Congratulations Class of 2020
For the Hermiston High School Class of 2020, today is the big day! Graduation is upon you. Congratulations to each of you on your hard work to reach this point. Your community is very proud of you and the work you have done to get here.
As a member of the school board, one of the highlights of each school year is to hand students their diplomas at graduation. For many of you, the look on your face is one of pride and accomplishment. For others, it's sadness as you sense an ending to a chapter of your life. Still others are filled with joy as they prepare to jump headlong into the next chapter of their story. Others are filled with nerves - some so much so that they come up and grasp the diploma, shake hands, and then try to walk away without the document you worked years to receive. Be assured, we don't let you go too far away from the stage without it!
I still recall fondly my own high school graduation. I was recently reminded it was 20 years ago yesterday. I recognize that this year you will not experience graduation in the same manner that I or your friends from past years did, and for that I am so sorry. But I also know that you have learned valuable lessons in these past few weeks that likely are not easily learned in the classroom. You have learned resilience, adaptability, and patience in the face of the harsh realities that can happen in the "real world." Those lessons will serve you well for a lifetime and I hope you carry them forward into your future.
Last year, it was my great honor to speak at Hermiston High School's graduation. In that speech, I recalled a poster that hung in my sixth grade classroom - "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" and some of the lessons that apply to all of us today. We learned to share. To clean up after ourselves. To lead a balanced life. We learned that "when we go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together." Those lessons just as easily apply to our graduates today.
Share yourself and your passion to make this world a better place. I hope that message - especially in this moment - is one our graduates all take to heart.
Recognize that life can be messy, but you have a responsibility to take care of those messes that you create. That demonstrates maturity and compassion for others. Own the mistakes you make and resolve yourself to correct them.
Lead a well-balanced life. It's not all about productivity, but it's also certainly not all about fun and games either. As you move into adulthood, take time to exercise your creativity. Continue to learn and grow as a person. Take time to do good, and also take time to relax, refresh, and recharge.
But perhaps most importantly, look out for each other, stay connected, and recognize the value of community. Your family, friends, teachers, and the entire community support you.
Congratulations Class of 2020. You have made us all very proud!