Hello everyone and welcome to the class of 2021’s commencement!
To those of you who know me pretty well and to those of you who may not—hi, I’m Ashley. And I’d like to officially start off by saying thank you. Thank you faculty who have watched us grow up to now. Thank you families for inspiring and promoting that growth with your unconditional love and support. And thank you to the class, for pulling through and getting to this spot here today. We made it! Today, I’m honored to address the talented, funny, enthusiastic, kind and crazy amazing people with who I’ve had the pleasure of spending my school years—these next few minutes are all for you.
I will be the first to admit that our senior year was supposed to be different. Maybe some of us were even expecting something straight out of High School Musical 3 or had anticipated taking a page from Ferris Bueller’s book. Instead, we were served a global pandemic. And if we’re being honest, no one wanted that. While our predecessors in the class of 2020 graduated at the onset of COVID-19, we went through our senior year abiding by the pandemic’s rules. And for that, I thank you all—for having the patience and persistence to get through the year that no one had expected.
Throwing it back to AP World History in sophomore year, Mr. Shulman once projected a picture of a pendulum on the screen and described how, oftentimes, momentum in history carries back and forth from one extreme to another. I think about this a lot, and I think that concept applies here. The majority of our senior year was one extreme. Disappointing at times. Stressful. Hopeless. But if you look at our situation today, I see positive change. A lot of us are fully vaccinated. We’re having graduation in person. And this just goes to show that no matter how hopeless a situation can seem, tomorrow, a week later, a month, a year later, things will get better; it’s nature’s way. Have confidence in the fact that life is never lived in the short term. We have a whole future ahead of us. There is an infinity of days that await us, an infinity of possibilities and ways we can take our lives, all the time in the world. And we get to decide what to do with it.
In front of me now I see all those infinities laid out. The professional athletes I’ll be cheering on. Maybe my future family doctor or lawyer. Teachers who’ll inspire the next generation of students like you and me. I’m excited to greet the future and see what it has in store for us. We’re all about to take the next steps and discover a whole new life. Life away from our homes. Away from this school that we’ve known, classrooms we’ve learned in, halls we’ve stepped in, from the people that we’ve seen almost every day. But that shouldn’t scare any of us. As we all begin to diverge from one another and embark on these next few years, we’re going to learn so much more than our little high school bubbles could have ever presented to us. Through the new friends we find, and the homes we create, our minds will open and our new experiences will begin to redefine us, change us into the people that we truly are.
That is why I know I can be hopeful for the future. Because I see all your faces and I know the people here in front of me are nervous but ready to encounter the experiences that will shape us all into the people we are meant to be.
To the class of 2021—this is goodbye for now, but I cannot wait to meet you all again. Here’s to an infinity of future possibilities and experiences that will change us all.