Box of Chocolates
Good evening president Fleegel, superintendent Sullivan, principal Lybert, assistant principal Schroeder, School Board Members, faculty, family, friends and the class of 2020. Wooooooow. You finally made it! It’s your graduation! It feels like we have been graduated for about five months already, but today is the big day. Today is all about you. Today you get to spend time with your family and friends on the biggest achievement thus far in your life. This is a big event, an event that you will never forget. There are several moments in my high school career that I will never forget, as I am sure there are several for you as well. Hanging out with friends, playing sports, getting to know your classmates better, meeting all of your amazing teachers, and most of all my epic handlebar mustache. One thing that I have always loved was snow days: getting up in the morning, seeing that school has been canceled, and crawling back into bed. After last year where we had 10 snow days, I was really hoping to have a ton this year as well. Not gonna lie, I was very disappointed once spring came and we did not have a single snow day, as I am sure a lot of you felt the same way. But, one thing we did not know is that we would have about 60 corona days. At first, I was pretty excited to miss school. I was glad I didn’t have to get up early, get homework, and be trapped inside all day long anymore. But, as the days and weeks went by, I started to think about a lot of stuff pertaining to the Class of 2020. I thought about what our class went through in the past, what we are currently going through now, and what lies ahead of the Class of 2020.
First, I want to touch on what our class has gone through in the years past. As you all know, we were born during 9/11. This event changed life in the United States forever. We never knew life prior to 9/11. All we know is the strict rules that we must follow when we are in airports, sporting events, etc. Going along with the 9/11 attacks, our class has seen the acts of AI-Qaeda and ISIS increase in terrorist attacks. Along with these terrorist attacks, there have been numerous school shootings in recent years. When our parents were in school, the only drills they had to practice were drills like fire and tornado drills. Now, as you all know, we have to practice what to do if there were a shooter in the school. Now I know all of you are thinking, “John, we know all of this already. You are putting me to sleep right now.” But I am saying this to remind you what you have already gone through in our short time on this earth. We have been alive for 18 years, and we can see how crazy the world is going. It can be a scary place out there.
I also thought a lot about what our class is currently going through. Now, there is a quote that I would like to share with all of you. It was said by a very influential man in American history, Forrest Gump. Forest said, “My mama always says, life’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get.” And ooohhhhhh baaaaabbbyyyy. We got the nastiest piece in the box. Who would have known that on Friday, March 13, that that would be the last time we entered MASH as students. As some of you might remember, I had my wisdom teeth pulled earlier that week. Friday the 13th was my first day back after surgery and my last day as a student of MASH. Now when they originally called off school I thought for sure we would be back in three maybe four weeks as many of you probably thought too. But as you know, that was not the case. So here we are, five months later, finally having our high school graduation.
Now this whole corona quarantine really stinks as I am sure all of you would agree. But one thing that this pandemic has done is shown how much the people of Medford support the students of MASH and particularly the Class of 2020. With how divided the world is today over so many things, it is great that we are still able to come together and celebrate our achievements, that we were able to have the senior parade back in May as well as the breakfast that we all had this morning with each other. The banners that they hung on the light poles throughout the city to show how much they care for the Class of 2020. Their support shows you how much they believe in our class and how they know that we will go far in the future.
Now, this is what I have been thinking most about during the days of quarantine. The future of the Class of 2020. I know you hear this every single year at graduation. At least one of the students giving a speech says, “I believe our class is the best class to ever come out of Medford Area Senior High School.” I do not like this at all, because I do not think that you can compare different classes. Each class is great in their own way. Each class has their great athletes, artists, musicians, actors, singers, you name it. Each class has them. But one thing that I do believe our class has that no other class had is an abundance of perseverance. I believe that the MASH Class of 2020 has had to have the most perseverance that has ever come out of MASH. With all the crazy things I have mentioned earlier, with all the things we have lived through, we needed to have perseverance. It is sink or swim, and I strongly believe our class handled this the best way possible. This perseverance that you all have shown these past five to six months will help you throughout the rest of your lives, because now, real life begins. Now, some of us will be going to college, joining the military, and entering the workforce. Playtime is over. It only gets tougher from here on out. But, I have no doubt that the Class of 2020 will go very far in life. I believe this perseverance will allow you to do and become whatever you want to do and be.
There is also another word that I would like to use for the class of 2020. This word is well known to me and every single boys basketball player. This word is relentless. Now I am by no means gifted in basketball what-so-ever and as many of you know, it isn’t even my favorite sport. But, basketball taught me the most important lesson that I have learned while attending MASH. Coach Brown instilled in us to be relentless in whatever we do. It’s a world so crazy you must be relentless in order to achieve your goals. If you want to be an astronaut, be an astronaut. If you want to be a professional athlete, be a professional athlete. If you want to be the president of the United States, be the president of the United States. But in order to do this you must be relentless in the pursuit of what you want to do. It will not be easy. There will be times you want to give up, to throw in the towel. But as Rocky Balboa, another American icon, said, “The world ain’t no sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” If you are relentless in the pursuit of your dreams, I have no doubt you will reach and surpass them. As Babe Ruth said, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
Now to end I would like to say something that my mama always says, not Forrest’s mama. My mama always says that her high school graduation isn’t even in the top five or 10 happiest moments in her life. But she reminds me that it is important and that I should enjoy it. However, she has told me that there are going to be so many more happy moments in my life. I agree with her 100%. There will be many many more happy moments in your life. Enjoy this moment, it is a big one, but I hope that for every single one of you, that this day is not even in the top 20 happiest moments of your life.