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Linda Mah
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Commencement 2017: From the Speeches

Read Quotes from 2017 Commencements and Other Senior Ceremonies

Dr. Michael Rice, superintendent, Adult Education graduation

If you didn’t think you could graduate and you are this evening, what else is possible that you may not have believed was possible at one point in your lives?

Not only shouldn’t you let others tell you that you can’t make it, don’t talk yourselves into believing that nonsense either. You’ve succeeded where many thought it was impossible. Forever you know good doubts, that just because you may question your abilities along the way, doesn’t mean you won’t endure and ultimately be successful.

Jessica Ruiz, student, Adult Education graduation

The truth is we don’t know how much time we have left. Let’s not waste any of it. Get started now. If you have been putting off going to school, today you can begin your own empowerment. Now, go continue your careers to better yourselves, your families, and your future.”

Duncan Wallis, student, Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center graduation
Stick with that goal no matter what happens. Achieve what you aspire to be. Don’t let people tell you can’t do something or what you want to do is impossible. Make an impact. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reality and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.

Dr. Mike Tanoff , principal, KAMSC graduation. He referenced the Bob Dylan song “Forever Young”

The opening verse is, “May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true, may you always do for others and let other do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung and may you stay forever young.”

Economist Rebecca Blank said, ‘You can’t be successful without knowing what success means.’ I hope one of the things you’ve learned is that success means serving a larger cause, a cause bigger than yourself. Wherever your path leads next, I hope you will define your success by the difference you make in the world. It’s more than being nice. It means making a difference in the world with the privileges that we call a KAMSC education and a college education.

And what about the line "and let others do for you"? A recent college commencement speech by senior class speaker said: There is no shame in asking for help, in seeking comfort, guidance or reassurance from those around you. Your pride won’t suffer simply because we ask for help. You won’t be any more or less a person. You won’t be looked down upon, pitied or anything like that. Truly, on the contrary, you will be uplifted, raised, relieved of the crippling pressure and growing anxiety that you’re facing by choosing to go at it alone.

Dr. Rice, Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program graduation

Your resilience, your strength, and your determination are portable. You can carry them with you not only in a literal sense but in a figurative sense as well. You will continue to benefit from them as you use them to accomplish more and to accomplish greater.

Mark Hill, principal, Phoenix graduation

I’ll keep it brief. Be well read, be well spoken, be well dressed, be well traveled, and be well rounded. You are great. You are mighty. You are Fury (the Phoenix mascot). And still we rise.

Dr. Rice, Phoenix graduation

Many of you know something about coming up from the metaphorical concrete. Life hasn’t been easy for many of you, yet here you are today on your graduation and still you rise Class of 2017, and still you rise. … For many of you, it has been a hard road. … The point is you have endured, you have not given up. You have not let the challenges keep you down. You continue to progress. You continue to set sail in the direction of your dreams.

Sayde Aguilar, student, Phoenix graduation

No matter what circumstances we’re in or what life throws at us, always stand and come back stronger than ever, because that’s what we’re meant to do.

Michaela Whalen, student, Loy Norrix graduation

The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away. Don’t become discouraged if you can’t discover your gifts right away. Remember all the parents, teachers and peers who have supported you along the way. …. I can’t wait to see all of your accomplishments in the future and I wish the best to you.

Dr. Rice, Loy Norrix graduation

In life your work ethic, how hard you work, how much you work really determines the extent to which you will be successful. That’s the case in high school, and it’s doubly the case in college and the world of work. Those that work harder achieve more. Half stepping is half achieving. It won’t get you close to your dreams.

Rodney Prewitt, principal, Loy Norrix graduation

Take heed to your callings, but I ask you to remember the invaluable education that you have received not only from Loy Norrix, but from all of the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Enjoy this incredible moment, your commencement ceremony, and the celebrations that will follow with your families and friends. Then go out and do extraordinary things that will transform your communities and even the world.

Valerie Boggan, principal, Kalamazoo Central graduation

To the anonymous donors of the Kalamazoo Promise, thank you for the gift that keeps on giving. Your generosity has provided students with hope and promise for a better tomorrow. To my babies … you have seen further because you have stood on the shoulders of giants. Now, others will stand on your shoulders.

Subi Thakali, student, Kalamazoo Central graduation

Whether you decide to go on forward with academics, go into the military, or go into a career field, the experiences we have endured here during our time will benefit us in every aspect of our lives. As our school vision statement says, “Inspiring Giants to become lifelong learners who create their own success.” Let your Giant footprints echo into the future and resonate with excellence as you walk.

Dr. Rice, Kalamazoo Central graduation. For his speech he had a prop: an Easy Button.

I bring it because where you’re going is not going to be easy. That’s what it is to graduate from high school, to begin your first tentative steps into adult life. It gets harder, not easier. So if you’re thinking about putting an easy button on your high school graduation gift list or your college shopping list, you don’t have to worry. You won’t be needing it where you are going.
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