A few months ago I told you all that I was chosen by our 2014 senior class to give the keynote speech along with another teacher.
I was slightly terrified, but more than anything I was honored. For SIX weeks my colleague and I met and wrote and edited and edited and rewrote and then edited and then submitted and then hated our speech so we rewrote and edited again. Okay so you get the gist right, basically we put a lot of time and thought into our speeches. We finally decided to combine a portion of our speech as requested by a LARGE majority of the senior class and what we came up with was pretty good I think.
So without further adieux:
B: “The paramount
interest in oneself, for money, for material goods, for security, must be
replaced by an interest in one another — an actual, not just a vocal, interest
in our country; a search for adventure, a willingness to fight, and a will to win;
a desire to serve our community, our schools, our nation. Because we know that
our happiness will come not from goods we have but from the good we do
together.” Those lines, spoken by Robert Kennedy in 1959, reflect the
young men and women seated in this hall. They reflect not only the service of
our future military members, but the success and innovation our scholars, the sacrifice
of our future police officers, the courage of our future firefighters, and the
heart of our future teachers, social workers and public servants. Let us stand,
now, and applaud all those students choosing a selfless path. You serve our
country in vital ways and for that we thank you.
You know, 14 years ago, when I bought that old Honda, picked
up my friend at the train station in Indiana, packed that car with everything
we could possibly fit before driving right here to Boulder, I didn’t imagine
I’d be standing here. Still in my ‘20s, endless possibilities before me,
possessing a strong sense of adventure, and a healthy amount of curiosity and
naiveté, I set out to begin a fresh chapter of my own life. And now, as you all
embark upon your own fresh start in life, I will offer just a few pieces of
advice before Mrs. Funk and I share what we’ve learned from you:
Take risks! Make them calculated risks, but I’m
convinced exciting opportunities and results come to those who take chances in
When you fail—and yes, you will occasionally fail—learn
from it, don’t be soft, and demonstrate grit!
Be patient in figuring out who you are and what you
want in life, but be open to all possibilities. You’ll find your passion—it
might just take some time.
Remember what Ferris Bueller said. “Life moves pretty
fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
And as your social studies teacher I would be remiss if
I didn’t implore you to be informed, engaged and active citizens of this great
nation—our democracy depends on it and a free society requires it!
Funk: When we started this teaching adventure we were naïve,
sure that we would be the ones giving the lessons. We now realize that is truly
not the case. You all have taught us far
more than we could have imagined.
You have taught us humility, patience, and perseverance. You
have taught us that, inside, each person is essentially good; that the desire
for and right to respect is universal, and that when inspired; each of you can
do incredible things. You have challenged us just as we have challenged you,
and have left an indelible mark on this school.
It has been a privilege to teach all of you, and to have been,
taught by you.
We wish we could honor all of you with the infamous “shout
out,” but we only have time for a few!
F: [several students names] and the rest of my 8th hour chemistry
class that initiated me into Horizon, one word….Measure.
B: Thank you to [student] who reminded me that it’s best to
start each day with a smile and to maintain a positive attitude as much as possible.
It can be infectious!
F: The [student] Brothers made me realize that having siblings in
my class turns me into a parent who just randomly shouts a name and hopes the
kid answers to their siblings’ name. I
apologize but really this is hard…you know because you are both boys and have
hair, never mind the fact that you are in separate grades and class
periods. Thank you for not hating me
for this daily mistake.
B: To [student] who made me realize through his passion
for cheetahs, wolves, the military, cars and even tattoos, that I should remain
open-minded and adventurous in all facets of life — staying curious and fully
exploring all the interests I might have.
F: [Students] & a good majority of the senior class: TOGA!
TOGA! TOGA! I love the spirit many of
you brought, keep that going.
B: Thanks to [student] who reminded me that I can make a
difference AND validated what I do each day when she told me she wants to teach
history—and what a phenomenal teacher she’ll be.
F: [student} and the rest of my AP
Environmental Science kids taught me that Poke E Man stands for Pocket Monsters
and is actually pronounced POK E’ MON. On
a more serious note my AP Environmental Science kids taught me more about being
passionate about my choices then they could ever fathom. Thank you.
B: To [students] — and
yes, I refer to you as a group of 3 — who taught me to not to take things too
seriously and to always find the fun in any situation. Oh, and [student], I think
you tried to teach me some lessons on proper shoes and fashion at one point,
too, but I might have forgotten some of that…
F: All my students have proven that hysterical YouTube videos
of treadmill falls, watermelons to the face and “hide your kids hide your wife”
make great “fillers” and lead to some amazing relationship building. Thank you, you have easily turned a rough lesson
into some teachable moment that I will never forget.
B: To [student] who reminded me that Superheroes and GI
Joe always have been, and always will be, way more exciting than the drama of
high school! Thanks, [student], I had forgotten that after almost 30 years…
F: Kids will accidentally call you fat (probably among other
things)…some days we all need a wake up call, so today I chose to do my hair,
and I hope you appreciate it [student].
B: To [student] who made me realize it’s possible to
remain patient, calm and focused in the most frustrating situations surrounded
by negative people.
F: [students] & company: proved that
experiments can go terribly wrong and your water can turn freakishly black but
it is all about the attitude and respect.
Respect the fish you destroyed, the other
classmate’s smells and make the kid with the stuffed-up nose change out the
B: [students]: You have proven that beating the odds is
possible. We are all proud of you and inspired
by your perseverance.
F: [students] you three
have challenged me and shown me that above all, friendship matters. Oh and also
B: To all of you who were students in our classes and
questioned or pushed us to become better people and teachers — Thank you as well!
F: Perhaps you have spent the last
twelve years of your life under the mistaken impression that school is just
academics, that it is little more than books and tests and teachers and
seemingly endless homework. School is focused on learning, of course, but the
greatest lessons are not those that came out of a textbook. The greatest
lessons are life lessons; school, more than anything, has taught you how to
deal with the realities, the difficulties, and the challenges of growing up.
Each of you has had your fair share
of these realities thrown at you, whether it was getting lost finding your
first classes here at Horizon, arguing with a close friend, malicious gossip,
or the careful and difficult balance of work, school, family and
extracurricular activities. But you
overcame each trial, and exit today stronger for them.
You leave this institution ready to
face your next challenge. But do not fool yourself into believing it will be
easy, or that the hardest is behind you. School is not the greatest challenge
you will face; not by a long shot. The next stages of your life will be fraught
with actually growing up; you will face great difficulties and tough decisions,
the sort that no one wants to make. You will face frustrations, and fear of the
But do not be afraid. There are
ways to combat these challenges, and I know you guys can do this. Invest in
your intelligence and your future. Work hard. Know that those stumbles will
lead you to even bigger and better things. In the face of adversity, look to
the positive and take away only the silver lining. You can and will become the
person you are meant to be, but you must sacrifice and make those tough
decisions. Change your thinking and take charge of your fears. Don’t make
excuses, don’t justify. Grab those bootstraps and pull yourself up. You can do this.
B: Finally, Class
of 2014, as you embark upon adulthood, pursuing whatever path you choose, be
confident, as Mrs. Funk said, knowing that you are prepared to meet the
challenges before you. You’ve had a lot of support along the way, and now it’s
time to assert your independence. With
that, I close with another quote from Robert Kennedy, who spoke to an audience
in a segregated South Africa in 1966 when he said,
answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth. This
world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a
temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage
over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is a
revolutionary world we live in, and thus,…it is young people who must take the
lead.” Class of 2014, thank
you very much, all the best, and go take that lead!
So there it is. Already an irate parent has emailed to tell us what terrible uninspiring people we are and how embarrassing we are among several other things. KARMA…Just KARMA.
Here are a couple other photos that our principal encouraged during her PHENOMENAL speech of using technology at appropriate times.
Did you make it through? Care to share your opinion?