During Perry Hall High School's graduation ceremony on June 1, one student's speech stood out as especially current, honest and inspiring.
Read what Will Eichhorn, co-valedictorian of the Class of 2012, had to say to fellow graduates, and share your advice to graduates in the comments.
Wow. I don’t think I ever really understood the true meaning of overwhelming until right now.
It’s tough to articulate all the emotions that I, we, feel right now. Proud that we finally made it out of high school, sad at the thought that we may never see some of each others’ faces after tonight, relieved that we will never have to take a reading test on a chapter that we never read—but most of all, we feel scared.
We stand at the cusp of adulthood. We are no longer sheltered by the home that we call Perry Hall.
For the past four years, we have moved class to class, fighting and pushing our way through the hallways, sometimes even venturing to go down the up-only staircase in the hopes that Mr. Arnold wasn’t at the bottom waiting to turn us around [audience laughter].
But now our lives aren’t so simple. Some of us will go on to college and will be forced to commit to a career, a decision that will impact the rest of our lives. Others are joining the armed forces, and to those of you dedicating your lives to our country, I honor your courage. And some of us are choosing to dive right into the working world. Who knows, maybe the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs sits among us.
In the words of Mrs. Ledford, "Things are getting real," [audience laughter] and I don’t know about you guys, but frankly, this is all too real for me.
I had been watching some graduation videos online, when Amy Poehler said something that really stuck with me: "We all grow up afraid of something." Since Freshman year, our biggest day-to-day fear was forgetting to swipe in that morning, but we have faced much more.
We were only in second grade when the planes hit the World Trade Center, and we were only teenagers when the economy started to collapse. It’s hard to be so sure about your own future when the world doesn’t seem to know its own future.
But it is the generations that faced the most that turn out to make the biggest difference. We are one of those generations.
Just as Perry Hall changed us, we changed Perry Hall, leaving our distinctive mark in the school halls. And I am sure that the world will change us, but I am positive that we will change the world.
We are ready for this.
Congrats to the Class of 2012! We finally made it.
Will Eichhorn plans to attend Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in the fall.