2012 Westfield Commencement Address – Grace Kinnaman

Class of 2012, it is amazing how quickly these years have gone by. Maybe it hasn’t hit you until just now, sitting here in your cap and gown, realizing that 12 years of school have finally paid off and have come to an end. It’s exciting to move on to college or start working. And for those of you going into the Armed Forces, your courage and sacrifice are truly admired and appreciated. Our class is so full of talent and potential as seen on the sports fields, on the stage, the art hallway, the music department, and in the classroom. We have our families, our teachers, our friends, and ourselves to thank for that.

Every day that we came to school, we took notes on things that our teachers told us we would need to know for the rest of our lives. Years from now, it might not matter if we still think that fractions make everything more difficult, or we don’t know the location of every European country, or we don’t remember a thing about diagramming sentences. But there are ten things that we should take from WESTFIELD, even if we can only recall a few of them further down the road.

  1. Why not?—For 12 years we have asked “Why?” Now is the time to say “Why not?” Why not take a risk? Why not face your fears? Why not make an awesome video to ask a girl to prom?
  1. Explore— We are all just one person out of 7 billion. There is probably a good 90% of the world that we know nothing about. Get outside your comfort zone. Meet new people. Explore different cultures. Get lost on purpose
  1. Self-esteem—Not everybody in the world is going to like us, but we need to be responsible for liking ourselves, thinking positively, and being confident in our decisions.
  1. Time—Time is precious. It is something we can’t waste, and something we need to manage. Instead of not having time, we need to make it. Make time for work, make time for friends, make time for family; And sometimes, make time to be completely unproductive like that power outage sophomore year! We all need a break.
  1. Failure—We’ve experienced it, we know it, and we know it will come back and visit again. Forgive yourself and move on. We’re not defined by our past mistakes; we’re defined by how we handle them.
  1. Identity—Find yours, and stick to it. Don’t be swayed by popular opinion if your opinion isn’t popular. Be proud of who you are and where you come from.
  1. Enthusiasm—Whatever we end up doing shouldn’t be because it pays well or because it’s what our parents want us to do. We should be doing it because we love doing it.
  1. Laughter—We can’t take life too seriously. We are going to embarrass ourselves or do things that we wish we hadn’t—laugh them off. Find something to smile about every day.
  1. Dream—Aspire to do something or be someone. There are no boundaries to the things that we wish to accomplish.
  1. !—This one is for us to fill in on our own. For a lesson that we will probably learn the hard way, as we are notorious for doing. But sometimes the best lessons learned are the ones that we figure out for ourselves.

As interesting and adventurous as it has been so far, I sincerely hope that these don’t end up being the best four years of our lives. I hope that there is much more in store for us and that every year improves on the last. We should explore what else is out there, but we shouldn’t forget where we come from. Congratulations, class of 2012! I would wish you all luck in the future, but luck is only for those who need it