Hello class of 2014 and congratulations! Now, for some of you, this may be the first graduation commencement speech you have attended; but, I’m sure many of you have heard others, filled with the clichés that are common for this occasion. Well I am honored to speak tonight and my address will also be filled with clichés. In order to make this a little less painful, I’d like you all to participate in a little game of BINGO. If all students could mentally mark off the clichés on your BINGO card — Version A, B, or C — while those in the audience play along on their smart phones at phs.2014.com, hopefully we can find a winning group.
As most things, the idea of clichés are interesting when analyzed. Webster Dictionary defines “cliché” — mark off the Webster square on your card now — as “a phrase or expression that has been used so often that it is no longer original or interesting.” So why has it been used so often? Because at one point in time, someone spoke it into existence and it represented a universal truth. The utterance was crafted in such a way that it could be not be surpassed by another expression created before or after its inception. A cliché is a fossil of genius. When we think “genius” we often imagine Albert Einstein or Jimmy Neutron, but I believe Perry’s class of 2014 is filled with clichés-in-waiting and therefore geniuses in waiting.
Genius is not instantaneous; it does not occur at the cutting of the umbilical cord, it is matured over many years. Your march to become a cliché likely began in your early childhood. I know that my parents, hi mom and dad, drilled me with flashcards straight out of the womb. Parents or guardians support us throughout our lives, or at least for their obligated 18 years, and allow us to mature. For their service, I want to thank my parents.
As we mature, our friends spark happiness and inspire us to greatness. They are the family we choose. As we grow, we go from writing each other letters in crayons, to having movie-like sleepovers and eventually, if you’re lucky like me, going to see One Direction movie premieres. During our development, which will continue into the next chapter of our lives, we will have faults and flaws in our personalities and choices. Our parents and friends are there to point out those weaknesses, allowing us to mature into the best we can be.
The beauty of clichés is that there are so many. To find genius you do not have to score a 37 on your ACT or a 6 on an AP test; you can be a leader, an athlete, a friend, or a volunteer, the possibilities are endless. You can win a hotdog eating contest or feed starving children in Africa, both represent greatness. Though academics are not the only outlet for distinction, we must also recognize those who provided us with the skill sets that fostered problem-solving and a thirst for knowledge.
Administration, staff, bus drivers, janitors, and lunch ladies provided us with the backbone of our education. Though we may not like to recognize such key players because it’s easier to complain and be rebellious, edgy, pubescent teenagers, all of these supporters hope for our success. When we see glimpses of this encouragement throughout our lives, we become aware of the compassion within humanity. When the lunch lady knows your order before you tell her, it exemplifies widespread support. It also may alert you that you need to order more than tacos with a sprinkle of cheese every day.
We have spent the last four years with family, friends, and these supporters; most of us have had fairly stereotypical high school experiences. We will now go to college, serve as missionaries, take time off, or pursue our goals — if persistent, we will continue to craft ourselves into a cliché. I encourage you on this path; continue until you achieve the genius cultured through the opportunities accepted and people encountered. Do something so incredible and remarkable that you change the world and become your own cliché. To quote someone famous and recently deceased to add emotional depth, heed the words of Steve Jobs and know that the Class of 2014 will “push the human race forward … because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”. As you now notice, I have spoken many clichés, and the BINGO cards have been filled in such a way that regardless of your choice, you are a winner. You are all winners! As winners, I hope that one day we all look back and remember those who inspired the genius that made the Class of 2014 an irreplaceable cliché.
Finally, there are many brilliant teachers I would be grateful to honor: chemistry teachers, lit teachers, calculus teachers, and many more, but tonight I am limited to one. Though she leaves Perry, her students will never forget her as the cliché she stands to be — she is brilliant, inspiring, funny, kind and there for her students, inside and outside of the classroom. She is all of the things a superior teacher should be and helped brainstorm this BINGO concept. For all of the above, I would like to thank and recognize Ms. Jessica Pullen.
Thank you to you, Class of 2014 and once again, congratulations!