I came to Roycemore freshman year, and the thing that struck me most when I first got here was lunch. Within a couple days of the year we developed this habit where our entire grade would sit together. We’d push some tables together and all eat together like a massive family in the corner of the cafeteria. It was honestly kind of weird, but it was nice. Our class moved as a single unit. I have yet to notice another class at Roycemore spending time together like that.
But that group of freshman all sitting together at lunch isn’t the class of 2018 you see sitting up here today. Physically, many of those here hadn’t yet arrived at Roycemore at that time, and many of those present freshman year have moved on to other schools. And furthermore, we don’t act like the same cohesive group we were back then. For example, as a Junior, I came to spend more time with the Seniors, and as a Senior, I’ve spent more of my time with the Juniors. We’ve all formed different connections and friendships, and I’d be lying if I said that every single person up here even liked each other. We’ve met new people and we’ve changed; that’s just how it goes.
As a Senior, we tend to focus on those last moments of high school. The last homeroom, the last exam, the last Prom. But no matter how easy it is to mark those academic last moments, so many other “lasts” slip between the cracks. The fact is, there was a lunch period freshman year where we all sat together, and the next day maybe someone sat somewhere else, and then another, and another, and at some point freshman year, there was a day where we all ate lunch together as a class for the last time, and nobody noticed.
After we finish this ceremony and take our picture and all go home, we the class of 2018 are going to scatter all over the country to amazing colleges and universities to pursue a variety of careers. But that means that after today, the class of 2018 will likely never sit together in this group again. Some of us may never see some of the others up here again. At some point, everyone has to move on to build a life of their own, and while that means great things for all of us, that does mean that even as we form relationships with new people, we’ll be leaving others behind. Whether we’ve been here for 2 semesters or 8, we have all been working toward this same day together, and now it’s here, and soon we will all be gone. This is it.
The reason I say all this is that we are blessed in that we now have an opportunity to genuinely recognize all that has changed and all that is going to change, and to appreciate each other before it is gone. That is what graduation gives us. We have one last big “last moment” with all the people we have valued at our time here. Our families, who have stood by us and supported us through more “lasts” than we could ever imagine, and whose homes we’ll have to leave. Our teachers, who have spent four years preparing us to do some good in the world and have worked tirelessly on us. And our friends and peers, whether parts of the class of 2018 or not, who have made these four years what they are, and have all awaited this same day. Graduation gives us the opportunity to be with all of you and recognize all that we have gained through our time with you and make sure that this is a moment that won’t slip by unnoticed.
So when we leave after this ceremony to congratulate each other, it’s really easy to just throw out a “goodbye” or a “congratulations” and have that be it, but take a moment to realize that you genuinely do not know when you will see them next. Whether someone was your best friend, your favorite student, a former friend, someone you didn’t know at all, take the time to realize that once you leave each other today, you may not see them for who knows how long, if ever, and whoever they were to you, completely appreciate your goodbye for what it is, not just a goodbye, but maybe the last goodbye.
I am so proud to be standing here as a part of the class of 2018, and I am so proud of all that we have accomplished. I look forward to all the things we are going to do and the places we are going to go, but for today, let’s take value in recognizing all that we’ve had here, together, in this building or around it.
So please, let us continue and celebrate all of our effort, our relationships, and our time together, and in doing so let’s celebrate the fact that we are all moving on to exciting futures. Though I present them to you now for the last time as a group, we will always be the class of 2018. Thank you.”