The HHS Class of 2020 celebrated their high school graduation last Sunday, July 12, amid cheers and applause from well-wishers and family members.
It’s been an unconventional year for the seniors to say the least, with the unprecedented school shutdown due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
But that didn’t stop the graduates from embracing this special moment in their young lives as they reached a goal they have been striving toward for the last 13 years!
Camille Gudde, class valedictorian, addressed her classmates during commencement. Also giving a graduation speech was Matthias Crowe, who graduated with honors as well.
Camille and Matthias’ speeches had a similar message to their peers, as both focused on acts of kindness and valuing the people in your life.
Camille related a story about how she was going through a difficult time and a simple kind message from a friend made her see what we should truly value in life.
“That small act of kindness was not so small to me,” she said. “It suddenly made me feel worthy. That message that I received just when I needed it is how I decided what my graduation speech would be about.
“I decided to share a simple idea that I want you to take home with you today and as we depart for the rest of our lives – share kindness with others as much as you can.”
She shared a story she had experienced about sending a text message to someone who had made a positive difference in her life.
“I texted someone who made me feel worthy at that point in my life,” she shared. “As soon as I sent that text, spilling out my heart, I felt so relieved and happy. The response that I received made me realize that feelings and kind words are meant to be shared, not hidden.
“That day, I decided that I would purposefully tell people when I missed them or loved them, or why I was thankful for them as much as I could. Because kindness is everything!”
Camille challenged her classmates and audience members to text someone who had made an impact on their lives, because kindness is contagious!
In his remarks, Matthias touched on the state of the world today and everything going on with the historic pandemic.
“We are going through a period of global turmoil and the least we can do is find something to be joyful for and to feel a sense of togetherness in such an isolated time,” he said. “Our accomplishments as a graduating class are ones to be celebrated, not mourned.”
He went on to talk about their senior year being abruptly halted due to the COVID virus and spoke of the feelings the classmates all have in common.
“We can all feel each other’s thoughts and emotions toward our senior year getting cut short,” he said. “This inadvertently brought us closer than any other graduating class previously.
“Together, we watched sports events and cheered on our friends and peers; together, we dressed nicely and danced to popular songs; together, we politely smiled at each other in the hallways; and together, we now graduate in the midst of a global pandemic.
“The specific circumstances of this year’s graduating class brings me to a piece of advice that I have learned myself and wish for my fellow seniors to take hold of – do not take the people in your life for granted.”
He spoke of valuing the people in your life, much like Camille did. Perhaps the unique circumstances this class has endured this year has had a profound effect on how they view the new world they are now being thrust into.
He went on to say, “Once social distancing restrictions are lifted, hug your friends and tell them how much they mean to you. You never know when you might not get the opportunity to do so again.”
He closed his remarks by saying, “And with that, I thank and congratulate the graduating Class of 2020. May we all tread onward, not wearily, but with a bounce in our steps. The rest of our lives are going to be excellent, and I can promise you that!”
Camille ended her speech by giving her classmates a word of encouragement.
“Holden Class of 2020, as we begin to leave home, make life-changing decisions, make new friends, and start the rest of our lives, believe in your abilities, believe in your decisions, and most importantly, believe in your worth!
“Thank you to my family and friends, Holden High School, and most importantly, my fellow classmates. You all are the reason I feel worthy enough to stand here today.”
And then, with a flip of their tassels and a toss of their caps, amid cheers and applause, the new HHS graduates walked boldly and confidently toward a bright new future in an uncertain world that they will certainly make a better place!