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MHS Class of 2014 Graduation Speech: Charles Horan

Credit: Colleen Sullivan
Credit: Colleen Sullivan

The following speech, provided by Medfield High School, was written by Charles Horan and given at Medfield High School graduation on June 8, 2014. 

Welcome, everyone: graduates, faculty, families, friends, anyone here merely for the joy of sitting in a crowd on artificial turf on a warm weekend afternoon. My name is Charlie Horan, and by strange electoral good fortune, I am the president of this group of gowned adolescents: The Medfield High School Class of 2014. We’re graduating today. Most of us, myself included, probably find the thought not just exhilarating but also confusing and stressful. I for one am terrified. Fortunately, it is not entirely without precedent: we actually enjoyed another graduation ceremony just four years ago, to celebrate our escape from our middle school days. But surely we all recognize that there’s a sense of finality attendant to this event that wasn’t there last time, as very few of the many and varied places we’re headed next year will be located within, say, 150 feet of where we are now. 

There’s also, of course, a sense of accomplishment: People are congratulating us left and right, and there must be something to that. I mean, we’ve done so much homework. And we’ve put up MCAS scores that have kept housing prices here at a level that has our parents scrambling to make next year’s tuition payments. We should take pride in what hard work we’ve done here, and in our successes, in the classroom, on the playing fields, in all our activities and relationships. But we also must remember that we are not exceptions to the universal rule that no one does anything of value entirely on his or her own. We’ve received incomprehensible amounts of help along the way: from coaches, from each other, from taxpayers who’ve footed the bill for our education, from administrators who’ve coordinated it, from teachers who’ve executed it. Really from everyone who has in whatever way, in whatever degree, paved the way to where we stand now–who has taken part in the great continuum of human activity and achievement, so, so shortly and importantly to be entrusted to us. Certainly and foremost, of course, from the parents and guardians gathered to watch us here today. We’ve been really lucky. It’s nothing to feel bad about, but it is something to be aware of and grateful for.

To paraphrase and decontextualize another president, one only slightly less famous than I, “We didn’t build that.” Far be it for me to politicize a high school graduation . . . but he was right on that one. We have worn many hats in our years in school–albeit none of them, perhaps, quite as stylish as the ones we have one now–and as we put on an even greater variety in the years to come, we have to make sure that some of them reflect an ongoing effort to give back and pay forward.

Congratulations, Class of 2014: We did it! To everyone else: Thank you for helping us do it, and thank you for listening. 

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