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Life at East: A one-size-fits-all graduation speech

I (finally) graduate this week! Although I’m not making a speech, I’ve thought of what I would say if I was. Graduation is the one chance to say something to the entire class. Although each speaker has the opportunity to tailor his or her performance, each seems to sound the same.

I imagine many of the speakers will say something along these lines:

“Good afternoon, fellow graduates. Congratulations! It’s an accomplishment to have made it here today. This is the time of our lives – our chance to cherish being young. It’s amazing to look back and see just how far we’ve come. Our class has been involved in every aspect of our school ever since we came to East. 

“These four years have certainly been a roller coaster ride. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were scared little freshmen wandering around, trying to find our classrooms. There are moments that will be remembered forever, and others that we wish would go away. We’ve all changed, and I think it was all for the better. Our biggest regrets from high school are not being more involved, getting to know more people.

“What’s truly important is that our time here has more than prepared us for the college or career that we will soon enter. It’s exciting to see what direction we’ll be heading. We are the future, and I can’t wait to see what great things we all will do. And remember that no matter where you go, you will always be a Saint.  

“Let us take a moment to thank all those who have helped us come to this point – our parents and teachers who have supported us through thick and thin. The principal and administrators who have helped build East into the community it is today. All have set an example we should all try to emulate. Without their dedication, we certainly wouldn’t be here today.

“My hope is that we all keep dreaming, whether they come true or not. We must continue to pursue our passions; if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. We may all be getting older, but that doesn’t mean we have to grow up! Let us all strive to make an impact that will make the world a better place. Never stop learning; after all, life is a journey, not a destination. 

“Look around and embrace this moment; it’s the last time we will all be together. It’s not the end, but rather the beginning; today is the first day of the rest of our lives. I know that one day our paths will cross again – hopefully more often than reunions. Today, as any other, is a great day to be a Saint. Let’s throw up our mortarboards in celebration.”

For those of you counting, I’ve used 34 clichés in this speech, but to add just one more:

“The unique memories we’ve made are countless.”

• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread and writing this column, which runs every other Thursday. Contact her at

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