It was a record breaking March day in Lake Forest. Temperatures had reached a pleasant 80 degrees, and the town seemed to be celebrating a hint of July in the middle of spring.
I was thoroughly enjoying this gift of unexpected warm weather, while savoring a scoop of my favorite “Caramel Collision” ice cream outside of Sweets. Summer-like breezes ruffled my shorts, and life seemed nearly perfect. Unfortunately, a nearby conversation caught my attention as two older men talked about the dismal state of our world.
“These poor kids don’t stand a chance of succeeding with this terrible economy,” one man remarked.
I wondered…did he want us to just give up, forget about college and resign ourselves to living mediocre and unfulfilling lives?
My twin brother, Jonathon, and I couldn’t help but feel disheartened as we sat on that wooden bench. They were clearly very misinformed. After all, anyone who doubts the capabilities of our generation needs only to visit to find a reason to smile.
What these men didn’t know was who we are… Our Class of 2012 is a group of 451 passionate people who are dedicated to making our mark on the world. We are talented musicians who devote countless hours to perfecting our craft. We are hard-working students who take our teachers’ breathe away with our inquisitive minds and high level of academic excellence.
We are dedicated athletes who excel, but also fighters who never give up… even when we are 10 points behind with only 60 seconds left on the clock. We are daring artists who create stunning masterpieces with our delicate strokes. We are committed volunteers who have chosen hour after hour and day after day to put the needs of others before our own.
We are unique individuals who are not shy about expressing our boundless creativity, and we are serious kids who dream big dreams about saving this world. We are compassionate and kind-hearted people who have faced unspeakable losses as we supported each other and healed together…one step at a time.
Our Class of 2012 has left an incredible legacy. As early participants and leaders in the Emotional Wellness Initiative, we are particularly proud of having significantly improved the environment at LFHS. We have shown dedication, spirit and passion by participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Walk, the United Way‘s Cross-town hockey rivalry and countless Friday night football games.
We have made you smile with our performances in the Talent Show and hilarious plays like “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”
It is with this creativity, drive and dedication that we go forward to make the world a better place. The extraordinary teachers and coaches of Lake Forest High School have led us into becoming MIT’s next engineers, Savannah College’s art extraordinaires, captains of Dayton University’s football team and honorable young men and women who will selflessly serve our country at West Pointe and the Air Force Academy.
Our talents are diverse and our plans are bold! And although we may dream big dreams, we have the hearts and the minds and the will to accomplish them. A weak economy and other tough problems will never hold us back or keep us down. We are the future.
Our class has spent the last 18 years of our lives becoming the amazing individuals who are gathered here today. In a few moments, we will have smiles on our faces when we toss our caps into the air and paint the sky a Scout royal blue.
Let’s look forward 10 years to a sunny afternoon in beautiful Lake Forest. Two older men are enjoying their favorite ice cream outside of Sweets. They speak of the many great feats that our Class has accomplished throughout the world. The gentlemen are admiring the medical cures we have discovered, the books we have written and the powerful impact we have made on society.
We have given them more reasons to smile than they could have imagined. It is time, Class of 2012.
We have a lot to do. Roll up your sleeves, Scouts. Let’s get started!