You've Got This!
To the Class of COVID-2020 (given on June 15th, 2020 at Jordan- Matthews High School in Siler City, NC)
Congratulations Chatham School of Science and Engineering Class of 2020!
As the pioneering members of our early college and the first graduating class of CCSE you have already changed the course of education in Chatham and I look forward to seeing what you will do next and how you will use the skills and knowledge you have acquired here to change the world around you.
I like to think that you are each writing a novel in which you are the main character. Your story will be influenced by each other and the things that are happening around you, but importantly, you get to decide which characters you will allow to play starring roles in your masterpiece and how you, the protagonist, will be affected by your circumstances. You may not always get to pick the theme of the next chapter but at every stage you will get to decide how you will allow people and events to impact the story you are writing.
Here are my suggestions for you budding authors:
1. Try new things, ask questions and don't always have to be right. The world has things to tell you and lessons to share, even in the most unremarkable places, at the most inopportune times and from the most unlikely people. Be ready to accept the lesson.
2. Do hard things but go easy on yourself and others. The best answer is not always the easiest and there will be many times when following the crowd, doing what you have always done and keeping the peace will lure you toward a path. Choose the harder option when it is right. You can effect change and the simple act of doing right may draw others your way and shift the tide toward a better outcome. And when the way becomes difficult, be gentle and forgiving. You and everyone you come into contact with deserves it.
3. And lastly, fail fast and move on. Don't linger in your failures and root yourself in choices and circumstances that are not working for you. We have all shifted course, been wrong, made poor choices and survived. And we will all do it over and over again. The most successful people you know have tried and failed at many things, but they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start afresh.
People will tell you that these are complicated times in which you are embarking on your journey to adulthood but the truth is that the times have always been complicated. The beauty of youth is that you won't believe us and by the time you do, you will have changed the world.
Let that change be for good through the power of your vote, the strength of your convictions and the fortitude with which you are willing to face challenges.
So congratulate your colleagues,
celebrate your successes,
sleep till noon all summer
and then go change this world!
Class of 2020, you've got this!!!