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Twelfth Grade Commencement

Tuesday, 07 Jun 2022

Before I begin, I would like to thank all of our teachers, faculty, and staff that are here today. None of us would be graduating today without their unselfish sharing of time and knowledge with us. I would also like to thank all of our parents and guardians, who dragged us out of bed each morning, fed us, helped us with homework, and supported the class of 2022 along this journey through high school. And thank you ALL for coming here today to watch and support the Class of 2022 at our high school commencement.

The first Roycemore Seniors graduated in 1916. Since then, there have been 105 more graduating classes, of which we are the latest. Now, the question is, with so many amazing, brilliant graduates before us, what sets the Class of 2022 apart? I believe that it comes down to perseverance and community. When we started high school four years ago, we were freshmen looking to find our way through this building. We were excited and we were scared. We faced many challenges throughout our four years of high school, especially from COVID, but we didn’t just survive, we thrived. And with this experience, the class of 2022 is stronger than ever.

The definition of perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” And as there was no time when persistence was more important than during the COVID pandemic, an easy way to determine the perseverance of a class is to view how much the pandemic impacted them and how well they handled it. Which brings us to an important question: what class did COVID impact the most? Some might say it was the class of 2020 who had to graduate during a pandemic. Others may say it was the class of 2021 that applied to colleges in the midst of the pandemic. However, it truly is this class, the class of 2022, that had the greatest impact from the pandemic. We had to complete our Junior Year, the most difficult year of high school, while contending with hybrid/remote learning, social distancing, and other pandemic restrictions. But we, the class of 2022, didn’t let that stop us. And what do we have to show for our perseverance? What successes did we achieve despite the challenges we faced? Acceptances to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, the College of Wooster, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UC-Berkeley, and Smith College, along with one Evans Scholar, one National Merit Scholarship Finalist, two Illinois State Scholars, and two Eisner Scholars. We found time to play hockey, to swim, and to play basketball. And we invented sausage water. Jokes aside, let’s take a moment to appreciate all our teachers, friends, and family members that have helped to shape us into the young adults that we are today.

You are our community, just as Roycemore is. Roycemore is a place where everyone succeeds. At Roycemore, you are not just a number, but an individual, and you form close relationships with your teachers. With these relationships, you always feel comfortable in your classes and never feel left out of class discussions. You are also able to have a unique education, tailored to your own needs. This completes the, in my opinion, frequently overlooked part of perseverance: the community that helps you along the way. Without our strong class community, none of us would be the amazing people we are today.

I would now like to take a moment to highlight some examples of the amazing perseverance and community of this class. A great example of the community of this class is found in the story of the international students. Out of everyone in this class, the pandemic was probably the most difficult for them. Unable to safely travel to Roycemore, many international students were forced to either take classes asynchronously or stay up late to join class via Zoom, and were unable to take part in class activities and other “mandatory fun” events such as Picnic. However, when these students came back this year, something special happened. After the first week of school, we were talking, joking, and having fun together, as if they had never left – all thanks to the beautiful community of this class. There were also many examples of perseverance closer to home. Student-athletes continued practicing their sports despite the pandemic restrictions, including going as far as swimming in 60-degree Lake Michigan, and their hard work paid off later this year with qualifications and achievements, including amazing seasons by this year’s soccer and basketball teams and invitations to the Illinois All-State Team. Other members of this class continued Roycemore’s tradition of Spring plays with a radio play during the pandemic, and helped create and edit multiple horror films this year. Budding scientists, wanting to do more science labs despite the pandemic restrictions, came in after school and completed some very interesting labs on their own. The artists in this class took advantage of their extra free time during quarantine to create some truly beautiful art that can now be seen lining the walls of the school and on the cover of the 2022 Griffin Yearbook. This class as a whole also gave back to its community, with members leading projects to clean up trash around Evanston and even spending their JSTs learning about and helping clean the Chicago River. And last but not least, a few opportunistic entrepreneurs invented the drink of sausage water, which is now sweeping the nation and even more popular than Gatorade!

As this graduating class clearly shows, perseverance is one of the major keys to success. And we all know that a path to success is not a straight line, however, perseverance will help you reach your goal and destination, as long as you have people to support you. And in life, no matter what is in the way, remain focused on accomplishing the difficult task, but never forget about the community that helped you along the way.

Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2022! The future is bright, chase it, but always remember to stay in the present!

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