2012 Westfield Commencement Address – Tanner Givens

Unless you have some sort of Billy Madison situation going on, you will only get to do high school once. Once we walk out of this gym, it’s all over. All of the time we have spent in this building is now a thing of the past, there’s nothing more that we can do here as high schoolers. But I must say we have done some pretty amazing things. It has been a great privilege to see those things first hand as your class president, and to now stand before you and control how quickly you can leave. I promise I’ll try and make it quick.

First off, I would like to say thank you. There is no other group of people that I would have rather spent four years of my life with. We have been through a lot together. We survived Y2K, 6/6/6, more types of flu than you can name, and even now we face the Mayan’s prediction for the end of the world. We have shared laughs, ideas, and after powder-puff football games, even tears. Not only are we survivors, but we are also a very unique and talented group, accomplishing great new things for Westfield High School. I had the pleasure of participating in the talent show this year, and I was able to see some amazingly talented seniors. I also able to see some dancing at Mr. Westfield that I wish I hadn’t. Our class was able to bring back pep rallies, has been a part of the largest student turnouts to football games in school history,  has helped kids a continent away in Africa, has raised thousands of dollars to fight cancer, and even now, on our last day, we continue to help those who don’t have shoes. I have no doubt that we are capable of doing even more great things. It only takes one person to make a difference, and knowing that more than 400 of us are now moving up in the world makes me excited for what the future holds. Now it is time to move on to bigger and better things, the success of which depends on what we have learned here. I, for one, am confident that after 12 years, we can do anything we put our minds to.

We all have been counting down the days and we are now finally done with high school. We will celebrate this by accepting a piece of paper, taking tons of pictures, and eating loads of food at graduation opens houses, because we all know, you only go to the parties for the free food. This trip hasn’t been made alone; we’ve had the help of our families and friends all along the way. We owe them a huge thank you. They have put up with us for all these years, and I think we’ve turned out pretty great. They’ve guided us and watched us grow up before their very eyes, and now must let us go. So, as soon as this is over, make sure to give them all a huge hug, because they deserve it. Another big thank you goes out the teachers and staff, who had the wonderful job of spending day after day with us here at school. It may have its ups and downs, but they never gave up on us. Make sure they are okay with it before you hug them. As we move forward, all the things that we have been taught by our families and teachers during our time here at Westfield High School will undoubtedly guide our choices. Those choices won’t always be easy, but we must make them. There is now nothing holding us back anymore. The future is right before us and it is our time to go out and make our mark on the world.

In the movie Jurassic Park, Dr. Malcolm said something that suits this new change in our lives perfectly. He said, “If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously.” We may not be dinosaurs, but we sure have evolved from the young 1st graders who took a picture by the bus on the first day of school. Sadly, those days are gone, and our time to break free has come. It is funny to think that we will soon be responsible for running this country. We will have to make choices that will affect not only our lives, but the lives of future generations that will follow in our footsteps. It’s a scary thought, but it’s an inevitable change. I would love to live with my parents for the rest of my life and get everything I want for free, but unfortunately, for some strange reason, they don’t like that idea. To be honest, I, like everyone else, have no idea what the future holds. But what I do know is that the future will be filled with a group of awesome individuals who call themselves the shamrocks.

Now, I was told that I should include some inspirational quotes, so here’s a few I thought would be helpful to remember as we move forward.  First off, some words of wisdom from our 35th president. He said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” If you don’t remember who our 35th president was, it was John F. Kennedy, and he got it exactly right. It is now time to look forward, and to quit worrying about what has been. We must focus on what lies ahead, and try our best to make a future for ourselves and those around us as successful as it can be. The future is the only time period we have the ability to change. Now here’s a quote that is dear to our generation that you may recognize. It goes, “Now she want a photo. You already know though. You only live once, that’s the motto people… Y.O.L.O.” Drake got it spot on. If you didn’t know already, you only live once. With that in mind, don’t hesitate to take a chance, because you may not get another one. No one has accomplished anything by just waiting for life to get better. We have the skills and the support; now we must only remember one last ingredient. Courage. Just remember what Walt Disney said. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” There is no limit to what we are capable of; we only have to get out there. Now it is our time to decide the future, and we as shamrocks, must take flight. Thank you.