Remarks as student-body president at the 2012 commencement of Holland High School, in Holland, Michigan.
Dearest members of the ever-so esteemed Class of 2012:
The confession I am about to make will no doubt shock you. I have kept this to myself for years, in fact, but the trust we’ve developed in these past few weeks assures me that my secret will be safe with you. Here it goes: I am not really a sports person. I don’t play sports. I don’t watch sports. I don’t even know how many quarterbacks are on our soccer team.
Our former English teacher Mrs. Clark sort of got wind of this when, the day before what would be our final football game, she told me gametime had been moved due to seeding.
“Seeding?” I replied with the utmost intelligence. “Aah. They must be replanting the stadium turf.”
Now until that day I’d felt I’d grown reasonably in touch. But upon Mr. Clark’s explanation, I knew I was “back to square one.”
To atone for my error, I decided I would, for the first time in my life, attend “the big game.” We lost to East Grand Rapids, of course, not least because when they saw I’d come to watch, our entire offensive lineup fainted in shock. So in the spirit of all today’s powerful leaders, I take full responsibility! Back to square one—again.
Now I’d like to think that I’m the exception—a dense island of ignorance in a deep sea of wisdom. But as that ever-inspiring 2011 grad Alexa Bakker recently assured me, “Wherever you go, Dominic, there will be some stupid people.”
That in mind, I’d like to suggest that, at least for a moment, we not take our diplomas and awards and plans and speeches too seriously. Don’t get me wrong: education, graduation, all that stuff is great. But if we dare to call this ceremony “commencement”—gobbledygook for “beginning”—then it’s only fitting that we take some time to fool around: to question, to experiment, to fail, to force ourselves back to square one.
We gather today molded by some oddly amazing characters: Ms. Donnelly, who speaks with energetic and genuine humility; Ms. Hofman, who can plan class down to the second; Mrs. Voss, who stood by her acentos black-ops; Mr. Hall, who wills his way through the multiverse; and Mrs. Kindred, who refuses to “proceed with caution.” Blessings!
Thanks to Mr. Bast, the Class of 2013 might not even have to shuffle across this stage to receive their diploma covers. Instead, they’ll be able to sit, iPads in hand, as Principal Klomparens types up a single mass diploma and then “shares” it with all of them—on Google Docs. With such an efficient ceremony, Mr. Reikow won’t have to “pomp and circumstance” the orchestra till their fingers are nubs.
And then there are our parents. Personally, I know that if I go anywhere in life, the credit will be my father’s; and if I do anything in life, the credit will be my mother’s.
I’d add up the value of the service people like these have done us, but Doc Spence still won’t let me use my calculator. And even if she did, my good ol’ TI-83 can’t handle numbers greater than 10 to the 99th power—a good bit less than the infinite blessing we’ve absorbed. Because the fact is, thanks others, we’re a whole lot smarter, wiser, and, oh yes, better looking.
Yet if identified only by their quirks, we’d probably call our mentors quacks. Turning their erratic traits into effective talent no doubt required that they set aside their “strengths” to instead goof up, get up, and grow up in the security of their class. We need to do the same.
Actually, scrap that. We’ve been doing all this for, like, basically forever—since back when we we were young! I can only conclude with great terror and greater optimism, for, dearest members of the ever-so esteemed Class of 2012: WE HAVE REACHED SQUARE ONE.
[my name] at yahoo dot com