Speaker tells VUHS graduates that time is on their side, so use it
VERGENNES — For the 86 graduating seniors in the Vergennes Union High School gym last Friday evening, time was both an ally and an enemy.
Shay Pouliot, president of the Commodore class of 2017, summed up the sense opposition to time in salutatorian’s address.
“Our parents always warned us that time would go by fast, but none of us could truly understand what they meant until now,” she said.
Classmate Eva Kamman amplified that point when she delivered her challenge to the junior class.
“When we say senior year flies by, we really mean it,” she told the class of 2018. “While, in the moment, it’ll feel like (senior) year is dragging by, you’ll get to graduation and feel like October was last week. So, enjoy it while you can.”
But Pouliot, Kamman and valedictorian Sadie Kass, along with guest speaker Jeffrey Twiss (a VUHS grad who is a vice president with the Boston Celtics professional basketball team), each also emphasized that time was also a friend. As young adults just starting out on the next phase of their lives, members of the class of 2017 have the time and opportunity to make their world a better place.
Twiss, who was part of three NBA championship teams with the Celtics, put it in a sports analogy.
“This is the start of your road to a championship,” he said. “Now you’re the No. 1 draft pick, you’re the prized rookie … your path to the championship begins here.”
Kass urged her classmates to take that first step.
“We all have our goals, something we believe in, something to accomplish,” she said.
And, clearly nervous in the spotlight, she acknowledged that anxiety and challenged herself and her classmates to march forth with courage.
“Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘Do one thing every day that scares you,’ and today I’m doing two,” Kass said. “One is addressing all of you. The other is stepping across this stage into the unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unknown.
“But we all have to go. Have to take that first step.”
Kamman did not let her classmates, or anyone in the gym that evening, off the hook, saying that the time ahead didn’t just offer the chance to change the world, but demanding that they use the time to create change.
“I challenge you to stand up for what you believe in,” Kamman said. “Take a second right now to come up with what you care about most. Now, think about what you’ve done to speak up about it. Have you evoked any change?”
An avowed environmental activist — she even has a nature scene tattooed on her foot — Kamman urged her listeners to find a cause and to act on it.
“If you see something that you feel is wrong, do something about it. Research it, get informed, and defend your viewpoint,” she said. “You live in a country where you are given the right of free speech and, as long as what you’re saying is educated, make use of this right. It’s been given to you for a reason.”
The last word spoken in the ceremony came from that archetypal source for commencement speakers everywhere: Dr. Seuss. Kamman quoted him thus:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
And before you knew it, the tassels moved across the mortar boards, the cowbells rang, and the VUHS class of 2017 marched out of the confines of the school gym and out into the bright future ahead of them.
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