Millville Senior High School
Commencement Address by Dr. David N. Gentile, Superintendent
Good evening parents, distinguished guests, faculty, and students.
Ok, students, the good news is I am the last person standing between you and your diploma; the bad news is I am going to give a speech too.
Improvised remarks regarding the student’s speech which referenced “YOLO” - translated to you only live once (a popular trend with the youth).
“YOLO”, before I start, I would like to address the little flaw with that little trend. YOLO, come on…you only live once…it should be YLOO, you live only once – YLOO, one lifetime…but not one moment to live! If you only live once in your life, one time, that is just sad. Ok, here we go…
During Monday night’s senior award ceremony, I could not help but be impressed by the achievements of many of the students seated behind me – there were amazing scholars – like our valedictorian – Sabrina Sutton, all-star athletes – like Shaq Lee, accomplished musicians – like Jessica Rathgeb, aspiring political leaders – like our class president – Josh Postalwaite. There were students recognized for their aptitude with a world-language, or with skills in a trade – our auto mechanics are top notch. Yet, as wonderful as Monday night’s award ceremony was, there were many students not recognized - I could not help but wonder about all of the other students who did not attend or receive an award. Aren’t they special too? You know, if I am going to be honest, adlib “and since most of you out there either knew me then or were there with me, I guess I have to” when I graduated from the Orange and Blue, I don’t recall hearing my name multiple times during our award ceremony – so if you are like I was then, I have a message for you… adlib “see there is hope, you will find employment too…for how long…well…that’s another story, I guess for as long as all of you will have me, so if you didn’t get an award listen up” And for all of my award recipients from Monday night, you probably don’t need my advice but you might as well listen too.
Education should be for the simple thrill of learning something new-not for an award. I urge all of you, to do, whatever you do, for no reason other than you love it, and believe in its importance! Starting right now, decide you are going to pursue your passion – define the things you love to do, and work at them – perfect them- put in your 10,000 hours of practice (which is what the experts say it takes to truly master something) Resist the comforts of complacency, get out of your comfort zone at least twice a day, Read- Read – Read and then read some more, read for enjoyment, read to learn something new, READ simply because you can – and thank your teachers for that little gift.
Dream big, dream the impossible – be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but don’t drop out until you are sure you are the next Mark Zuckerberg! Develop moral character – know yourself well so that no one else can define you! Seize the day as if your hair was literally on fire because none of you – none of us – are promised any more time than we have right at this very moment. Enjoy your youth, although all of us old people know you won’t, enjoy it anyway. Gentlemen, enjoy having a full thick head of hair, while it lasts – but don’t mourn when it leaves you – odds are it will leave you, (don’t believe me? look around the next family function at all the bald guys) adlib “where do you think they all came from? That’s right, they started out like all of you” To the ladies, understand that you are beautiful no matter what they say – I promise all of you that someday you will look at the pictures taken today and think “wow”. Enjoy your youth, but look forward to slowly – willingly trading it for the wisdom that only comes from experience.
You may think these are the best of times – they are not – or at least I believe you have much better ahead. The great life, the fulfilling life is the consequence of hard work – it is an achievement. But, it will not just fall into your lap because you are a nice person – you cannot order a great life on EBay – adlib “believe me, I tried” nor can anyone else make one for you.
Our founding fathers took pains to secure that you have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not the right to a great life, that comes from the choices you make during your pursuit. Do not wait for inspiration to find you – get off the couch, get out there, explore the world and find it yourself – and once you find it - hold onto it like my 3 year old daughter around my leg when I try to drop her off at preschool.
Remember, the fulfilled life is a gratifying consequence of living for your passions. It happens while you are doing the things you love just because you love them. Despite whether you received awards Monday night or not, regardless of the journey you have taken so far, you can decide today to be whatever you want (within reason, my son heard me say that and said, “well, I want to be Batman”)
Here you sit, all wearing the same uniform and are about to receive a high school diploma – which aside from your name is exactly the same as the person sitting next to you. Think of this as a new starting point and this wonderful celebration a breather along your pursuit of happiness. For those award winners, [are you] still with me? Well done! But do not rest on the feeling of self-satisfaction as your journey continues!
Congratulations – make your own good luck, and live the life you were destined to live!
Now it is my pleasure to certify that each and every student assembled here this evening has fulfilled the requirements for graduation that were instituted by the Millville Board of Education and the State of New Jersey.
Therefore, I am honored to recommend this Class of 2012 for the awarding of diplomas.