Congratulations, seniors. You are soon to turn your tassels and a corner in your life. The only thing left to do is post your celebration video on TikTok.

You have had a memorable high school career, one punctuated by at-home learning, partial class time and then full-on fun. Oh, and masks, masks and more masks.

None of us could have written this script, but life usually works out for the best, and you all played your parts with aplomb. Adaptation and an open mind to change are keys to success. That’s a lesson we don’t learn in school, and you’re due for so many more of them as you make your way forward.

We are immensely proud of all of you. This is a unique moment in your life for each of you individually as well as a class. Aside from the impact the coronavirus had on your academic — and social — lives, each of you has experienced a personal challenge that felt overwhelming and all-consuming: a death in the family, illness, divorce, family money problems. And yet you found an inner strength — or someone showed how much they believed in you — and you persevered.

You Got This

In some ways, the way in which you finished this year — and the uncertainty into which you go — will make you even stronger. In life, it is essential to seek learning from all sources and in varied ways. You and your peers will be called upon repeatedly to think creatively with problem solving.

This shouldn’t be difficult for you. You have been doing this collaboratively since kindergarten. Since your earliest days in school, your desks were pushed together, and teamwork became a core competency. Expect more of the same — a lot more.

The challenges that face you — face all of us — will require quiet discernment. And sometimes they will require raised voices. Bring passion to your pursuits, at whatever volume necessary, because without it you will be lost.

Greatness isn’t achieved without passion. Your heroes in sports, music, arts and science did not rise because it was easy for them to do so. They outworked everyone. They kept going when they could have quit. And they burned with a passion to achieve success.

Seize Your Opportunity

Trust us when we say there is no success without loss and adversity. Failure will come surely as the dawn, but like that morning light it will burnish you. As the fortune cookie tells us, “Failure is the chance to do better next time.”

Think for a moment of graduates before you. Today, they are corporate leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, military commanders, doctors, teachers, community organizers.

Others work long hours in a service economy that many take for granted only until it’s not there or working properly. Without our truck drivers, food does not get to the grocery stores for us to buy. And where would we be without the thousands of health care workers who have, literally, put their lives on the line for us during the pandemic? Service to our fellow humans is a noble calling.

And more than a few graduates before you now rest eternally in honored graves, having died defending our freedoms and way of life. Remember them. They had hopes and dreams, just like you, but their last thoughts and actions were not for themselves but others and their country.

So don’t let life just happen to you. Take this time and what you’ve learned and create opportunity.

We’ve seen what you’ve done to this point. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do from here.

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