Graduation Remarks Class of 2023
Good Evening Administration, Faculty and Staff, Members of the School Committee, Families and Friends, Students, and the Graduates of the Class of 2023.
I am Carolyn Lyons, Superintendent of Schools. I am humbled to have the opportunity to speak to you today, the day you graduate from Middleborough High School. The class of 2023 will always be special to me in part because you are my first class of graduates as Superintendent but also because of what I have learned about you over the past school year.
I knew this class was special right away. When I approached Mr. Pittsley, Mr. Converse, and Ms. Duggan about showcasing the arts on opening day in August of 2022 they were all in. This planning began in the spring of 2022 and our seniors did not disappoint. You were on stage playing your instruments, singing, and dancing your way into the 22-23 school year. Senior student council members lined the doorways of the Middleborough High School and welcomed back our staff and faculty- a truly memorable experience for our first day together. I watched you this school year as you nurtured your relationships with one another and set the tone for the entire building. You welcomed this year’s freshman class with open arms and blaring music in our auditorium. When it came time for Homecoming, your quad theme and your commitment to it was unmatched. Watching you represent the orange and black on our fields, on our stage, and in our classrooms has simply been an honor. I have cherished getting to know you through your engagement with the Superintendent’s Roundtable and representation at School Committee meetings. As I listened to your speakers at Senior Last Assembly I was struck by how wise beyond your years you are. You are all accomplished and impressive. Graduating high school is an achievement and one that you should celebrate. I feel thankful to have had the privilege of watching you grow this year and lead our school.
When I sat down to write these remarks something unexpected happened. I had writer’s block. I was rendered speechless, literally. It wasn’t until the late evening of Senior Last Assembly when I figured out what was causing this block. As you’ll come to know all too well, speeches like this tend to be… a little boring. They can lack meaning and end up a bit trite. I didn’t want that- it was not my end game. Rather than offer you advice or pretend to know what you need to hear, tonight (with the exception of one item- just the 1) I want to simply offer my wish for you. All of you.
My wish for you is that as you embark on this next chapter in your story, that you create a path in this world that you affirmatively choose. There is no vocation or path better or more important than any other. The thing that will make you happy is the thing that you actually want to do. The trick is coupling things you actually want to do with things that are actually good for you. You begin this next chapter today as someone innocent and teeming with hope. Hope will serve you well.
My wish for you is that you never stop learning. Regardless of the topic, be it work related or personal, the gift of learning is that its bounds are endless. Learning will open doors you never thought possible and can leave you feeling enchanted- a truly euphoric feeling- if you remain open to possibility. A life devoid of learning takes on a “nothing new” apathy that is easy to develop. Whatever you choose to do for work, whomever you choose to be, do it as a student and the learner that you are today. The learner that you became at Middleborough High School. Staying curious will serve you well.
My wish for you is to welcome kindness into your life as a lifelong partner and shun the capacity to be mean when it seems the most gratifying choice. The upside of leading with kindness is that your conscience is clean, not to mention the benefit of good karma. While you still need to protect yourself in this life and keep your eyes open, being kind is not synonymous with being naive. Kindness will always serve you well.
My wish for you is to become as resilient and gritty as you can possibly be. Life is going to throw you curveballs and you’ll often face those challenges wondering if you’re out of the woods before you truly are. It’s in these moments that you have to learn to tolerate it and somehow develop the will to persevere and push through. When you look around and feel like everything has changed, please be reminded that you already have had this practice. That’s what high school has given you; the ability to withstand stress, pressure, expectation. These aren’t “kid” skills- these are life skills. Life’s balance can be downright delicate and will change all the time. So it goes. But, your grit will serve you well.
Now, as I previously mentioned that one exception- there is one piece of advice I wanted to offer. I’m hoping you will indulge me in a brief exercise. It won’t take long, I promise. I’m taking a risk in this exercise, so if it is a flop don’t blame me too much. Graduates, close your eyes and I want you to visualize. It is 9 months into the future, March 2, 2024- a Saturday night. Picture your future life. Your future style. Your future look. You might be at school, you might be working, you might be in the service. Perhaps you’re living far away from Middleborough or maybe you’re right down the street. As you envision your future, you realize that you’re own your own, kid. It’s been 9 months since graduation and a lot has changed. Visualize yourself going about your evening, enjoying whatever activity you have planned for the night. You’re excited, busy, and caught up in the new rhythm of your life. Just then you hear it- it’s your phone and it’s buzzing. Or maybe it’s ringing or dinging or doing whatever it is when a call comes in. It takes you a while to realize what the sound was so you missed the call. You finally find and look at your phone and see that it is your parent. It’s your Mom or Dad or Grandparent- it’s the person that you used to live with. The person that took care of you. You’re busy thinking about your evening plans, daylight is burning, and you’re eager to get to it. Graduates, open your eyes.
Please call them back. This is my advice to you. Call them back.
What you may not yet completely understand is how much they miss you. They miss the sound of your voice, particularly when you laugh. They miss the shape of you sitting at the table slumped over your work. They miss your backpack by the door, your clothes that you didn’t put away, and the trail of your items around the house. They miss the sound of your footsteps bounding down a staircase or pounding down the hall. They miss the space you take up physically and emotionally. They feel that invisible string between you and it tugs on them often. They most definitely do not want to be left on read. They want you to call them back so they can check in. Protect these relationships whenever possible and lean in to love every time. Love will serve you best of all.
And one more thing. For those of you paying close attention and to my fellow Swifties, I am certain you noticed that I referenced an entire playlist this evening of our beloved Taylor. I’ll post the playlist on the school website so you can check out the playlist I created for your graduation. I hope you like it.
Class of 2023, congratulations on your tremendous accomplishments. On behalf of the Middleborough Public Schools, we are all so proud of you and wish you the very best in your future endeavors.
Graduation Playlist (Taylor’s version)
All Too Well
Out of the Woods
Everything Has Changed
So It Goes
Don’t Blame Me
You’re On Your Own, Kid