I was doing some digital cleaning of files on my computer when I discovered my graduation speech for the class of 2000 at Pawnee City. This was my first year teaching. I had a thing about entering the room, making a “Grand Entrance”. This speech took me down memory lane…
About 18 years ago you all made a “Grand Entrance” into this world. You wailed, you cried. Your parents wailed and cried. Neither of you were sure of what was going to happen. The future was a closed door. But together you opened that door and traveled to this moment. This door. Graduation. Most people think of this moment as an ending. I ask you to think of it as a chance to make a “Grand Entrance”.
Yes, you are leaving the halls of Pawnee City High. Leaving those oh so comfortable desks. Parting ways with my oh so efficient pencil sharpener. Never again to sit on the “sharing stool”. No more watching us teachers lean against the wall. You are done with all the intellectual endeavors.
However, what lies ahead is a world totally different then what you are leaving. This ceremony is your first step into that world. And your only chance to make that “Grand Entrance”.
Some of you will go on to college (a totally different type of intellectual endeavor), others the arm forces, while some will take on the responsibility of working. You may have an idea of what you are going to do, but deep down you are unsure of what lies ahead. What is behind this door? I can’t tell you. Your parents can’t tell you. But don’t be afraid. Open this door with passion. With the lessons we, your parents and teachers, have given you. With your heart and soul, open this door with your own style.
For unlike 18 years ago this “Grand Entrance” is a solo. This is your opportunity to change your world. How you enter this next stage, how you enter through this door, will set the tone for your life.
If you enter with your head down, scared to see what is there, you will miss so many opportunities. The only view you’ll have is of your shoes. That’s not nice. Unless you spend as much as I do on shoes, then that’s a different story. Of course my wife has curbed my spending a little. But I do have a baby on the way and he or she will have the coolest shoes. Oh, did I just get off the subject? Sorry seniors, a flash back to AP English!
If you enter looking back from where you came from you’ll never get the chance to be a better person. All you will have to measure your life by is what you did in high school. Plus, you will probably be knocked down from any obstacles that lie ahead. That’s not nice.
If you enter running just trying to get to the next door, more than likely you’ll end up missing the perfect opportunity for you and smashing your head against the wall. That’s not nice.
But open this door. Take a second then make your “Grand Entrance.” A 360-degree spin. A high swan like leap. Walk through the door with an “It’s all good in the hood” swagger. Whatever kind of entrance you make let the world know who you are and that you are here to live. You are here to view what is possible, to grasp the best opportunity for your goals.
I welcome you all to the graduation of the class 2000. Be prepared for a little wailing and a lot of crying. But most of all let us enjoy the “Grand Entrance” of this class into the world.
Seniors you have my permission to go, but this time you don’t have to come back.