Here is the Lincoln High School Class of 2013 senior address, as presented by the top honor students during the Sunday commencement.
The theme was "We Challenge."
Look to those around you, those people you are surrounded by are probably people you've been with and known through these years at Lincoln, or from the Junior High, or they may even be friends you've had since you were tiny-tots in -,' elementary school. These people have been your confidants, your enemies at times and ultimately made up the people who you call your friends. Well sadly, after today we will all be going in separate directions. Some may stay here in Rapids, others may move to other cities or even other states all together. I challenge you to make new friends and explore all the new opportunities that present themselves to you. There is more to the world than Wisconsin Rapids and there are so many experiences out there to be had. This small town with all our friends may be our comfort zone, but I wish for all of us to go out and embrace every experience and to be open to new people and new ideas. The years here at Lincoln will always be our past, but the experiences we have and the friends we make after this will be our future, let's make that future the best it can be! And always remember what we say here at Lincoln High School; thanks to Mr. Henke "Do the right thing, at the right time, because character is your destiny!"
I challenge you to see the world. In just a few minutes, the gym doors will open and the world will be ours. After crossing over that threshold, I challenge you to see the world! There will be no limits-the world will be our playground. We have passed our days of being children that run outside for recess, yet never leave the school lot, to being adults that can see anyplace we can imagine. As we step into unfamiliar territory, it's important to observe and learn all that we can. You never know what will happen. You may get to hold a jellyfish in your hands in Spain or experience the sensation of using a bidet in France. And just in case you're wondering: no, a bidet is not for washing your feet as I previously thought, but rather, I learned it's for washing your...dairy-air as the French would say. The differences in culture will amaze you. Life not only exists outside Wisconsin Rapids, it flourishes in its own unique way. But don't just take it from little old me, go see for yourself!
What if 20 years from now you could travel back to this moment, to your senior year, in a time traveling silver De Lorean or maybe even a little blue box. Chances are most of this year will be a blur with only a few clear memories. Go out and create more of those memories by embracing all your opportunities instead of shying away. Of course it's terrifying to take a step into the unknown; all your thoughts turn to, "what if it doesn't work?" Ah, but what if it does? What if one step leads to another and another? What if along the way you find time travel does exist? Well, probably not that last one, but the possibilities are endless as to what you can accomplish when you decide to take that first step. I challenge you to conquer your fears and take risks because you never know how perfect things may turn out to be. There are only so many tomorrows, so go do something terrifying today. You don't even need a time machine to change your future, it begins here, make it fantastic.
I challenge you to succeed at your own level. 3. 141592653589793 23846 26433 83279 5028841971. Wikipedia says that this is the practical memorization of pi -- 40 , decimals. Whoever wrote that is nuts. Most of you will only ever need 3.14. Yet for some, even 40 decimals are not enough, but odds are you aren't one of those people. I challenge you to succeed at your own level. You don't have to be Einstein. You don't have to be Da Vinci. You don't have to be Napoleon. Expecting to be the greatest ever will destroy you. Someone will always be better than you. But you should be proud of your achievements because you did something great: you challenged yourself to do YOUR best, and you did it. Always remember that even Neil Armstrong needed someone to make a bolt before he could stand upon the moon. It did not matter whether the ratio of circumference to diameter was 3.14 or 3.14159265358 -- well, you get the idea. All that mattered was that someone did their best to make that bolt.
Each of you (have) made a plan for the next stage of your life: whether it may be directly joining the workforce or deciding to continue your education. But for all the planning you may make, remember life can change in a single moment. We all have seen the results of the Boston Marathon bombing, a day that began as a celebrated annual event, turned into a national calamity. Some individuals panicked, but it can be said that the majority rallied together in order to provide aid to those in need and protect their fellow citizens. We often are not able to control our surroundings, but the one thing that is in every single person's control is his or her own reaction. You chose whether you become downtrodden under strife or whether you rise to the challenge and change your situation. I ask that you find that sliver of light in the darkness and that shred of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. So remember this, if nothing else, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I challenge you to take life as it comes!
I challenge you to not fret over death (a spontaneous and momentary switch.) So, we've all been sharing our thoughts and challenges about how we think you should try to live a part of your life. But I'm gonna break off from that. I'm gonna challenge you about death. Don't purposefully die with style. Don't make a big deal out of your death unless you have ebola virus or are missing more than three toes. Then you can make a big scene for all I care. When the end is near, please quote something worthwhile like Shakespeare or Doctor Who, then proceed to your dying of a deathful death. But don't take it too seriously; you won't be around to worry about it afterwards. And guys, dead friends suck, but they'd be more disappointed if they knew that you got sad for long periods of time over it. If you think that people should mourn you a lot and that you're a big deal, stop it, you're dumb. Sure you might've done one or two cool things, but people have their lives to live and they don't deserve your postmortem despise. Once you're dead, your fun is up, people will remember for you a bit, some may regret you, some may still love you, but you'll be dead and you should not hold those still alive to your agony. That said, I challenge you to not worry about death, it's there, it'll happen, you have a life now, "The rest," as put by Hamlet, "is silence."
Just imagine if you will, that you are strapped in the vehicle of your dreams, whether it is your four wheel drive pick up or a Ferrari, cruising in the warm sunshine with the windows down and the music up, with your favorite friends, and everything just seems to be picture perfect. Imagine this moment. I guarantee you that there is not one other person in this gym with the same vivid imagery as your own. This is because each and every one of you is your own person, your own self, with your own goals, and your own dreams. Other than the fact that we are all gathered, here at Lincoln High School, to graduate, for which I must congratulate you! , we are all our own unique character. This is why I challenge you to continue to be your own shining self! The future, miles down the road, could bring adversity, adversity in the forms of minor speed bumps or major detours. It is in these times, where you must embrace the map YOU want to draw for yourself. So please, don't try to be a Jaguar if you are truly a Jeep.
How many of you put the "pro" in procrastination? Trust me when I say that I've been there and done that. There are times when you wait to do something until the last second, whether it be school- or family-related. As you sit here today, ask yourself: Do you finish homework not for the sake of finishing it, but for the sake of learning from it? Beginning today, I challenge you to strive to be your best. In a world full of people, what makes you stand out? Striving for excellence certainly does not go unnoticed. Though it sometimes may not seem so, hard work certainly pays off. Putting forth your best effort not only builds character, but also it improves your sense of well-being. Getting the most out of life requires dedication to activities and to others. Remember that each person is unique. You must discover your strengths and weaknesses and use your strengths to positively impact the world around you, as even the smallest difference makes your time and effort worthwhile.
I challenge you to cherish your youth. We stand before you today to give you a series of challenges. Challenges to be taken with you out those doors and kept in the back of your mind for the rest of your life. Some may appear to be easy to fulfill, others may require your utmost strength, endurance, and perseverance. Instead of commenting on the academics we focused on for the last year, I'd like to congratulate you on your academic success. You've successfully completed the requirements to be a Lincoln. High School graduate, embrace it. It's an accomplishment that surprisingly many in the past and in the present have not had the privilege of attaining. In addition, I would also like you to embrace the memories you've made throughout your high school experience. While meeting the standards for graduation, you've also balanced it with the love for being young, wild, and free. I challenge you to continue to cherish your youth and your freedom to do what YOU want to do in all your endeavors following your walk across this stage. These past few years we've had, along with the next few to come, will be some of the most interesting years of our lives. Have fun with it. In the words of Wiz Khalifa: "That's how it's supposed to be."
It's finally here. This day is the culmination of everything it means to be a high school senior. After this, we'll head out into the real world, and who knows where life will take us? But, no matter where your future takes you, I hope you are always -,' obtaining new information and using your mind to generate new ideas. People who do those two things will be successful. This is why I challenge you to continue learning and growing as a person. It may seem like there will never be an end to this process, but maybe that's because there won't be - but I don't mean this to scare you. Obviously high school has ended, maybe you're headed off to college, and that will end too. But what I don't want to end for me or any of you is learning and achieving the absolute highest you or I can. There's so much knowledge in this world to be gained, and I wish the best for all of you in your endeavors to acquire as much of it as you can.
I challenge you... When people would ask me, "So Tanner, are you excited to graduate?," I would always reply, "Nooooo..... Yessss!" Most have been counting down to this day for some time, and it felt as if it would never come, partly due to the fact that the world was supposed to end on December 21st, but also because most of us were getting tired of all the homework and tests. Yet one thing high school has taught me, is that although it is important to have ultimate goals and keep the end in mind, it's also important to make sure you enjoy the time you have between then and now. If you spend all your time counting the seconds until the next big thing you're expecting, you're going to miss all the great times that aren't planned. Sure, I was excited for this day, but making memories like having distilled water fights in lab with my crazy chemistry class, making a school-wide Harlem shake, and having mad beyblade tournaments with the one-of -a- kind tennis team is what this life is about. So although you may be hurrying down the path to get to your next big plan, I challenge you to make sure to stop, be crazy, be original, and make some memories along the way.
I challenge you to live life for someone other than yourself. This may seem obvious. You're only one of seven billion, right? But consider this: My father was... well, let's just say he was a thoroughly inconsiderate person. He did what he wanted, regardless of how it affected his future, or his family. This pattern of selfish living came to a head, however, when (sigh) on Sept. 1, 2008, my father was arrested for an unimaginable crime. I could have responded to my father's arrest in very negative ways, and if I'd had my way, you can bet I wouldn't be standing before you now, speaking from this podium. I'm here today because my amazing Lithuanian step-mother chose to stay; after all she'd been through, even though nobody would have blamed her for going back home. Her dedication, patience, and wisdom over the years have allowed me to overcome many obstacles and make large strides toward being the man I need to be... for others. So, whether you become a teacher, an engineer, a politician, or simply an average Joe with a family, do it for someone else, someone who needs you, because after all, you only live once.
FORESHADOW: Your name read
Ascend, abscond safe chair yonder
Like fruit of a tree
leave parent behind and fall
fall to a fresh, clear piece of ground
That earth, a virgin world where you can grow
This stage right here
Where your story begins
Begins to be written
Written by you
A tale of success, a saga of strife
You choose the words, the words of your life
Now close your eyes, what do you see?
Is that what you want your story to be?
The blackest void, a blank page without even thee?
So open your eyes; look all around you
Beyond silly robes, beyond silly seniors
Beyond sun, beyond stars.
That is where you should start;
Without cage, without bars
Pure, true imagination - requires strong stimulation So I challenge you to find inspiration
Look to music, look to art
Taylor Swift, She's a good place to start
What kind of life will yours be?
An epidemic, a fable, a fantasy
A myth, a legend, a great tragedy?
So when you come up here, and begin to grow
Listen to your heart, listen to what you know
And search for inspiration.
Change: it's a terrifying thing, isn't it? We are such creatures of habit, finding most comfort in predictability. But, of course, without change, life would turn terribly stale. So my challenge, to you today and every day henceforth is to embrace change. As our experiences continue to broaden, let us not limit ourselves to our former ways. Instead, let us prove wrong the idea that old dogs cannot learn new tricks. By all means, let's embrace change as we step outside our comfort zones to splurge on that Alexander McQueen jacket, or help a stranger in need, or follow those dormant dreams. When loved ones in this life leave us, let us cherish and learn from the time they gave us rather than sully it with sadness. And just remember: it ain't over 'til it's over; there are no rules to this thing. We can change whenever and however we please. By embracing change, I hope we all see things that surprise us, meet people with new perspectives, and feel things we've never felt before. I hope we all lead lives we are invariably proud of. And if we should ever find that we are not, I hope we can at least muster the courage to change it, however late in the game. In the end, "the pursuit for happiness" requires constant nuancing; and when we cease to evolve, we simply cease to live.
No matter whom you are, where you're going, or what you're doing... I challenge you to never take yourself too seriously. At the end of the day, life is about two things: being happy and having fun. Some people claim that this is it - high school and college are as fun as it gets. They say that after we graduate, we'll have a ton of responsibilities and too much to worry about. That conclusion is not inevitable - and so I challenge you to change it. Take time out of your day to laugh and joke around, no matter how "formal" the occasion supposedly is - and yes, that includes today. Joking around doesn't mean that you aren't responsible or that you aren't taking something seriously - joking around simply means that you love life and you want to share that love with others. So I challenge you to laugh, and laugh often. Laugh at yourselves, laugh at others, and never lose sight of the true meaning of life.
Over the next few years, we're all going to have a lot to think about. Our education, our jobs, our careers, our futures, the zombie apocalypse.
Now, I know that many of us were thinking, "Yeah, yeah, career, future, whatever ---oh, no, zombie apocalypse," but I can assure you that our lives and futures are even more real and important than marauding hordes of the undead. In our futures, life will throw obstacles at us that may block us, pull us back, push us off course, or try to eat our brains. To prepare for these untoward circumstances, I challenge you to challenge yourself. If we go beyond the requirements and expectations, we will develop the skills, knowledge, and creativity needed to face challenges in life. If we challenge ourselves to go the extra mile now, when we hit a roadblock we will already have the strength to climb over it. The next time life throws zombies in our way, I want all of us to be able to look them straight in what's left of their faces and say, "Challenge accepted!"