Mrs. Gault, Mr. Foxx, distinguished guests, Members of the Board of Education, faculty, parents, and friends.
And to my classmates, congratulations. This is really all for you. Today, we are celebrating our graduation, our time. Today is the day we have been waiting for, the moment we have anxiously anticipated since our first day of school thirteen years ago when we let go of our parents hands and stepped into the world on our own, even if it only meant a brightly colored classroom.
But now, look where we are. Look at us. We aren’t those little kids clinging to our parent’s hands, and we are once again letting go to enter another new world. Right here at the end of it all.
You know, there is something about the end of things that makes you think of the beginning. On your first day of high school, nothing in the universe seems bigger than those cinder block steps leading into Forsyth Central. I remember feeling so small and lost among the seemingly gigantic seniors that roamed the expanse of main hallway like they owned it. As I sat in my first class, listening to the booming voice over the intercom wish me a “great Bulldog day,” I knew that I had entered a new world. A world of changes, of parties, of Friday night football. Of new people and newer things. Of love, and of life. This is what we as freshman had to look forward to. As seniors, this is the world we lived.
In the past four years, the world we entered has changed dramatically. Those cinder block steps are smaller than they used to be, or maybe we’ve just gotten bigger. And main hallway must have shrunk and now seems barely wide enough to squeeze through. The classes that never ended are over forever. It’s the last time any of us will be wished “a great Bulldog day.”
Through these years, we have gained. We have lost. We have experienced and we have grown.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” As freshman, we entered this world of Forsyth Central bewildered, eager and anxious to be those seniors. And here we are. The seniors. The Class of 2006. And we can walk down those hallways like we own them. Because we do.
But our time here is ending.
The time has come to step down those cinder block steps and into the world beyond Forsyth Central High School. There is something greater to discover out there, a new world to conquer. To explore and to experience.
But like the past four years has changed us, it has also redefined what we know as the world. The world is not Cumming, Georgia. It is not what you see on CNN. It is not the puzzle pieces of countries on a map. Your world is not the blue-green sphere of Earth.
Pat Badger once said, “I figure wherever I am, that’s where the world is.”
And that is what our world has become. Your world is who you meet. It’s the lives you change. It’s the lives that change you. The world is the places you go and the things you find there. It is the things you learn, the secrets you keep, and the memories you share. The world is not a static place, but a dynamic one. It’s not the glass marble that we thought it once was, but more like the plasticky goo of play-doh. The world can be changed, it can be stretched, it can be beaten down and raised up, or it can be wrapped around your little finger. It is for you to discover how.
In May of 1968, in the midst of the revolts and demonstrations of Parisian students, someone splattered these words on a wall, “The revolution must take place in men before it can be manifest in things.” So be the revolution. Change your world. Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Be who you are. Be who you want to be. Your world is what you make it.
Four years ago, we made our world in the red and black striped halls of Forsyth Central. In the years to come, I hope that you can find your world. Or that it someday finds you. But at this moment. This day, in this place. Our worlds are connected.
We are the Class of 2006.
Good luck in every world you conquer and congratulations for conquering this one.
so in my avoidance to actually do work for class – i was searching through old documents on my computer and found this. it’s my graduation speech. it is incredible to think about the things i have changed since then. how scared i was at that podium. the people that i wanted to stay closest to. the sudden desire to run from that stage. the places i wanted to see.
i’m a different person, and for the first time…it might be a good thing.