Ellen Foreman: Commencement 2023 Student Address

Good morning, everyone. Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has made my presence here possible. The mentors and friends who have enlightened me, not just with words, but with their actions and encouraged me to never fall back on my dreams. It is my sincere hope that I will be either able to follow in their footsteps or be able to walk the path of goodness and wisdom along with you.

Today, we are gathered to celebrate a transition. I am not sure if you have all been counting down to the day and minute until this moment or been absolutely dreading this final goodbye. But whatever you feel, I hope that this reunion is something that you will enjoy remembering. Now, I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm that you might have, but I like everyone especially the seniors to take a moment to imagine what it would be like if this room were empty.

No students, no parents, no faculty members, no graduation speakers, no anything. Only you in the room and a rusty diploma waiting for you on one end of the room. That wouldn't be much fun, would it? Because you all deserve to be celebrated. You all deserve to have your accomplishments, recognized and to have people wish you well as you begin the next chapter in your life.

This moment is neither a greeting nor a due. It is an amalgamation of both the path behind and the path ahead. And I could not be more honored and thrilled to share the fruits and the coming fruits of this transition with you all.

So what is Kobe? What do we think of when we think of, of our last four years of high school? If we were any other kind of school, I would not be able to speak about events that have united us teachers that have inspired us and moments that we have been present for.

But the truth is many of us do share some of the same memories we've scrolled through feature stories, iconic cartoons and stunning pictures in the Kobe newsletter, reunited with the entire school in prayer through the spiritual life club's weekly prayer meetings and cheered on our peers at the advent and Christmas concert. I bet some of you remember how the chat would overflow back when it was held on Adobe connect.

We've been through the chaos of mic checks at the beginning of class. The rush of adrenaline when your teacher is suddenly kicked out of class and the feeling of staring at a long list of assignments on the school g home page. Hey, even if you weren't even taking any online classes throughout these last four years, you still know how challenging a Kobe curriculum can be, but it was all fun, wasn't it?

There might have been many complaints and frustrations along the way, but hopefully, the pains and sorrows of navigating high school won't become the moments that are calcified into our minds. To those of you seated in these front three rows. So you're all students all soon to be graduated alumni of our school. But what's most important is that you are all humans, amazing, stubborn, wise, serious, silly, ambitious, thoughtful, diligent humans.

And that's wonderful and magical and fills me with so much joy. Maybe you have regrets about things that were done or left undone throughout your high school years. Sure. Yesterday's work and play will always be overshadowed by today's, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile to pursue. Just take a look back at where we all started, maybe the beginning of elementary school, beginning of middle school, even the beginning of high school.

And you'll see what I mean by the strength of our human spirit and God and the people around us, we came from knowing. Absolutely nothing to knowing slightly more. So I thought I'd leave you with some final words of advice. I know that, you might think that the things you've learned haven't yet helped you figure out what you want to do next in life.

And that's perfectly fine because I bet none of us have that figured out, including me. We are here to applaud you all, not for the outcome of your journey, but for the work that went on in that journey, progress is something that our society often refuses to acknowledge. Progress can look bland and unappealing. And quite frankly, most of us would rather not put in the work for progress to occur yet it's progress that makes us beautiful and soulful people not doing well on a test or

winning an award. If you want to get anywhere progress must be made. So I'd say it might be something a priority to learn how to make the process as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible, whether it's progress in your spiritual character or progress in academic areas. Remember that you're making even the smallest sacrifice in your life for the glory of God.

Maybe when you look back on your days at high school, you'll think how can I ever repay these people for all the kindness they have showed me, especially the teachers and mentors that have guided me through so many challenges. The secret is to look forwards for every gift that a mentor has given you, give that gift to the next person in line, give that gift to the next generation.

Give that gift to the person who really needs it in that moment. What has been passed down to you passed down to others after all, this isn't commerce, it's community. I love words. I think words are beautiful and I thought I'd end with one of the words that has resonated with me the most. This past year, Iai is a Japanese word that means the reason for being, but it's a word with many colors and dimensions. It's not just a word about who you are. It's about what you love, what you're good

at, what is practical for you to do and what the world needs from you. If there's anything that I believe is relevant for you to consider at this time and place, it's the intersection of these four things at its essence. IGA is about being you living the most fulfilling version of your life as a child of God to the class of 23. More love to you than I could say with words. Thank you and may God bless you all.

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