Superintendent of Schools – June means graduation season for school jurisdictions. Over the past week I attended three separate graduation cap and gown ceremonies with one more to attend late in June. Each year I write a base speech and then customize it based on the school or theme of the graduation. Yes, I actually do the writing and try to have variations from year to year.

To be honest, I know that the graduates are not overly excited to hear most of the speeches at the ceremonies. I assume they wish we would hurry up and finish. While the majority of speeches are focused on them, the real audience is probably the parents. Here is my message to the graduates (okay, the parents) for 2018:

Good afternoon everyone. Graduates, today is an exciting day as we celebrate your completion of high school. For most of you, public schooling began back in the fall of 2005 with you rocking your Blue’s Clues t-shirt and SpongeBob lunch bag. You are the first graduating class of school X where most of you are born in this millennium. Look at you now; you’ve come a long way! Along the journey you made new friends, had many teachers, went on memorable field trips, were involved in clubs / teams / productions and even managed to meet the graduation requirements. Congratulations, you have made it through this stage.

You are ready to take on the “real” world. It is time to call upon the skills you have been building over these past 13 years with the assistance of your family, teachers and friends. These skills include: problem solving, overcoming challenges, communicating, handling adversity, thinking critically, collaborating with others, and utilizing the various literacies you have developed. These are the skills you will need to leverage in the next stage of your life. These are the competencies that we have been working hard to get you ready for, no matter what your next choice is – whether that be the world of work, post-secondary education, travelling the world or even living in your parents’ basement.

Remember that you are not alone. You have family, friends and teachers rooting for you and ready to provide assistance. Sorry parents, but the balance of power is shifting as the grads are making more of the important decisions and taking more responsibility for those decisions. Grads, you will make mistakes, all of us do, but it will be how you recover from those mistakes which is most important. I encourage you to keep your options open, believe it or not, you may need to change your mind and consider another option. Mistakes and changing your mind are part of the “real” world.

To all of the RVS staff who helped you get here, thank you! To the families here today, congrats – you were a big part of getting them to this point. To the grads, I encourage you to take some time this weekend to thank those who helped get you to this point. Say thanks to your parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, friends, teachers, bus drivers, secretaries, administrators and everyone who has helped along the way.

In closing, we are very excited about what you will do, where your journey will take you and the contributions you will make. Take care of each other and welcome to the “real” world.


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