Good morning Maryland, welcome to Gateway where… I was not expecting to get to use my Game Theory parody Video Announcements intro slogan this year. Anyways, I’m not here to talk about video announcements. I’m here to deliver a speech, and I would like to begin said speech by sharing a story with you all.
Back when I was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts of America, we had a yearly boot camp at Pine Grove Furnace, a state park up in Pennsylvania. The park’s hiking trails reach into the Appalachian Trail and covers about 2,200 miles.
At my first boot camp, our troop decided to hike a 6 mile long portion of the trail to reach a scenic vista called the Sunset Rocks. Consider that I was 11 at the time, and the most strenuous walking I did regularly was walking the distance of two house’s yards to visit my friends who lived on my street. As you can imagine, I wasn’t faring too well. Struggling on the uphill climb with a fellow new Scout, (we’ll call him Ben), the rest of the troop moved on ahead while one of our Assistant Scoutmasters (we’ll call him Bob) hung back to keep pace with us. When our trio finally made it to the last little hill up to the overlook, we arrived just in time to meet the rest of our troop coming back down. Assistant Scoutmaster Bob turned to Ben and me, and asked if we still wanted to see Sunset Rocks. Without hesitation, I told him, “Of course we want to see the rocks! We just hiked 6 miles, I’m not turning around and going back without seeing the rocks!” to which Ben whole heartedly agreed.
Assistant Scoutmaster Bob laughed and told us we were both very tenacious, and we returned some very blank looks. What, you expect me to know this word in 6th grade? You can ask any of my English teachers, English is my worst of the four core subjects, and I’m well aware of that fact. Anyways, he defined tenacity for us. Tenacity is the same determination and perseverance, pressing on when things get rough. So we pressed on and saw the Sunset Rocks. The view was beautiful, you could see for miles; I recommend going sometime if you want a nice hike and an amazing view.
Now, despite how much I loved my middle school years… Actually, about that? Why does everyone say middle school were the worst years of their life? I loved middle school! Freshman year though… Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked. I’m going to share… I’d call it more of a brief summary than a story of my school career. I was a pretty bad kid in elementary school. I’m sure I’ve shared stories about all sorts of things, whether it was punching a peer in the stomach, kicking a small traffic cone through the air onto a gym teacher, or getting unfairly punished after getting stressed out at Biztown. The events aren’t important, but what is important is that I got through elementary school despite my misbehavior and moved on to middle school.
I was still kinda a bad kid in 6th grade. One of my teachers that year hated me, it was terrible, but I did have a really good science teacher that year. Seventh grade was a big year of change, where I started to be less of a bad kid, and the change rounded out in 8th grade. I went from getting at least 30 referrals in 6th grade to having a grand total of 2 in 8th… if I remember my numbers correctly, it’s been a few years. Aren’t you guys glad you didn’t have to write and extra 30 referrals while I was here at Gateway? I’m sure Ms. Flagg would have loooved that.
Anyway, I tanked in freshman year. There are a lot of factors that I don’t want to go into, but the long story short version is I got kicked out of Westminster High School, somewhat unfairly, in my opinion. Yes, I still have a bit of a grudge about that. However, I can’t be all mad, because this is where all of you guys come in! Being sent to Gateway was one of the best things that happened in my entire school career. Within 5 months, I already had grown enough to no longer need an IEP. After a single semester, I already had the ability to go back to Westminster. I didn’t go back, of course, I loved being at Gateway too much.
I pushed even further in my second year, I managed to become the first Gateway student to enroll within the Teacher Academy of Maryland, or TAM for short. It heavily increased my workload, it had a lot of scheduling issues, and was incredibly stressful, but I did it! After my third and final year of high school, I’ve made it through the whole TAM program! I stand here today as not only a Gateway graduate, but a TAM graduate too!
Now, you’re probably getting tired of my rambling about my school experience. For those of you who aren’t Gateway teachers reliving these memories with me, you probably want me to get on with it, but I promise I have a point behind all this. It all has to do with that little word Assistant Scoutmaster Bob told me about. Tenacity. Throughout all 13 years of schooling, it was a trait I had to show again and again. In the face of adversity, I had to keep pushing. As the saying goes, when the going gets going, the tough get tough. That’s me, I’m the tough… and guess what. Everyone else here is tough too. That was just my school experience, but everyone here has been through school. Whether you went through it 10, 20, or 50 years ago, or are graduating here with me today. We’ve all been pretty tenacious, pushing through the struggle of this absolute train wreck called life to be here today. We all have a little bit of tenacity and we need to keep that tenacity with us.
Now, I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing news about what I’m going to touch on next, but you’ll have to bear with me. I think it’s important to be said… also, nobody countered my idea of writing a speech for graduation so this technically all a fault of you guys not stopping me. Ahem, anyways, with the current world events occurring, I believe a little tenacity is something we’re all going to need. Our country, is of course, currently being ravaged by a highly infectious disease. We are in the midst of one of the greatest crisis on our countries homeland since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
This is where that tenacity comes in. We need to persevere, we need to keep going onward, in spite of what’s happening around us. We need to press on and on and on, never giving up the fight to survive. Today, we use our tenacity to slay a challenge in our life. We move forward, wielding tenacity as we need it. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what my fellow seniors are doing; this is our sweet victory! Using tenacity is what we’ll all do moving forward. We’ll keep fighting no matter what the world throws at us. We’ll fight our own war, whatever it may be. We will persevere because we are determined! We will press on because we are tenacious! We have Tenacity!
(This is the part where everyone applauds and the fireworks go off and Wargo & Wetzel come on stage and lift me up in an arm throne)
That’s all from me. Oh, and one last thing. Whoever is the owner of the white sedan, you left your lights on.