This past Saturday May 22, 2021, I had the great honor of speaking to the Harker graduating class of 2021 at their commencement ceremony, which took place at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California. The last time I had been to the Mountain Winery was sixteen years ago, when I enjoyed my own commencement as a member of the Harker graduating class of 2005. I was thrilled to return for such an exciting purpose. Throughout the day, I was flooded by so many memories of my own high school experience, which marked a joyful time in my life, filled with discovery, growth, and friendship.
The day was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, and a feeling of accomplishment and celebration filled the air. The graduates and their parents were beaming. It felt extra special to be gathered together for this momentous occasion, especially after so many high school traditions had been canceled or altered due to the pandemic.
My speech was one of several planned for the day. For the first time in Harker history, there were two valedictorians, who both gave moving speeches. Remarks were also given by Jennifer Gargano (the Assistant Head of the Upper School), Brian Yager (the Head of the Upper School), and Samuel "Butch" Keller (the Upper School Division Head). Two senior student groups, a string quartet and a chorus, performed beautiful musical numbers, and each graduate had the opportunity to walk across the stage to receive a diploma to the sound of cheers and applause.
During my speech, I encouraged the graduating seniors to embrace the unknown and think creatively and courageously when striving to achieve their dreams. I also reminded them that as they go out to explore the world, they should never forget that they are part of the generation that came of age in a global pandemic, and that they have already proven their strength, adaptability, and resilience.
Check out the video below to watch the full recording of the ceremony. My speech takes place from 1:03-1:19.
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