Congratulations, 2011. We did it. We’re graduating. After many, many long years, after countless essays, a barrage of tests, hours of homework, unending practices, rehearsals, projects… we’re graduating. The moment for which we’ve been reaching for so long is finally here. We put in the work required and now we’re ready to see the benefits.
At first, our rewards fail to meet the expectations we’ve dreamed up over the years: caps that threaten to fall off, gowns that absolutely swallow us and diplomas which we’ll only receive after squaring debts and returning books (which I still haven’t done). But our real rewards are the futures waiting just ahead. Each one of us in this Class of 2011 graduates today looking forward to the bright promises of tomorrow. Whether we’re going to school, starting a career, joining the armed forces or taking some time to figure things out, we’ve been prepared for what lies ahead by our time at Windsor High School. En route to graduation, we managed to amass a slew of accomplishments, as a class and as individuals. We’ve spread our talents in every field imaginable: breaking records, dominating Advanced Placement testing, gobbling up state sports championships, making music, building a fleet of cardboard boats, raising money for charities, creating awe-inspiring works of art, logging hours for community service, working steady jobs, fighting to improve the reputation of Windsor High School and to define our legacy as a class. Every single person in this audience has something to be proud of and should bask in this pride as we celebrate our accomplishments.
If you’ll allow me to set aside generalities for a moment, I’d like to express my gratitude on a personal level. Mom, Dad, Drew, Sam: thank you for being the best family I could have had. I couldn’t have done anything without you. None of us could have accomplished what we did without help and support. Parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, coaches, teachers, friends: These are the people who picked us up when we were down, who pushed us down when we were riding too high, who celebrated our successes and sympathized with our defeats. These are the people who made possible our graduations, our accomplishments and our futures. I would like to invite everyone in the audience to join me in thanking these remarkable people for all they have done for us.
Thank you. While their support has been invaluable, I must criticize one aspect of it. Again and again I hear those who offer their greatly-appreciated advice and support using a word that doesn’t seem appropriate to fall from the lips of those whom we respect. This word sounds discordant and crass amongst the blessings and benedictions of this graduation season, yet it is used often and with disturbing frivolity. And while I have promised the administration to keep this speech clean, I would like the audience to understand to which word I refer. It can be used in a variety of circumstances. It’s got 4 letters. And it rhymes with “duck”.
That’s right, ladies and gentleman. I’m talking about the word “luck.” Those who’ve guided us over the years
use it, as do we graduates amongst ourselves, without thinking. “Good luck,” we say. “Best of luck!” “I wish you luck!” I’m disappointed each time that I hear these phrases, and I’ve been hearing them more and more as we approached today. The sentiment is pleasant enough, but the meaning behind the phrase is what bothers me.
Wishing for luck is in some way giving up your sovereignty and saying that what you have is not enough. When we wish for luck, we’re asking for supernatural aid, less potent than a magic spell and less caring than a god. If you need luck, you don’t have it in you to succeed. You need an extra leg up, a helping hand to tide you over. Wishing luck on another person is the same as casting doubt upon their abilities. Wishing for luck is saying that you’re not enough. But you are enough. We are all enough. We have support, we have each other and we have our own determination to succeed and find happiness. We’ve shown that by graduating today. We each have a bright future ahead of us and will be able to accomplish what we chose. And that is why I do not wish you luck.
I wish you determination and courage as you face what lies ahead. I wish you challenges and the drive to overcome them. I wish you prudence when making decisions and faith when taking risks. I wish you self-discipline and integrity in the face of intolerance. I wish you and those around you health and security. I wish you confidence, rationality and the ability to dream. I wish you success and happiness in whichever ways you choose to define. I hope you get exactly what you want, exactly what you earn, exactly what you deserve, no more and no less. But I will not wish you luck, because you do not need it. Congratulations, class of 2011. I wish us all the best as we travel to infinity and beyond.