By Principal Neal Moylan
Parents, relatives, friends, community and school board members, faculty, administrators and students, welcome to the Kennett High School Graduation for the Class of 2017. Every class that takes the four-year journey through Kennett High School develops a personality and characteristics for which they become known. This particular class is best known for its compassion, school spirit, can-do attitude and genuine care for one another and their community. They developed a reputation amongst the faculty and staff as one of the nicest group of young men and women that we have had here in many years. For those who criticize public education and the younger generation they only need to spend a day with these students to know our future will be bright, exciting and filled with great achievement.
To the parents and friends of the Class of 2017, I ask you to look at this special group before you. They have grown and blossomed in four short years; their accomplishments are amazing and should give us all hope. They will become the doctors, engineers, politicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, community volunteers and most importantly they represent the fabric of our community and the engine of tomorrow. Our future is in their hands and we can take comfort knowing that the young men and women in the Class of 2017 are smart, hardworking and confident in their future success. It is clear that at their very core, they are kind, compassionate and talented.
To the students of the Class of 2017, your class has carved an indelible mark on the glorious tradition of Kennett and you have set the bar high for other classes that follow. This is a special day and one that represents a watershed moment in your lives. You are about to close one chapter of your life and enter a future filled with exciting opportunities. Some of you will continue with formal education, at colleges and specialty schools; others will enter the military or proceed directly into the workforce. I have no doubt you will all make a special mark on the world in much the same way you have at Kennett.
As one looks out at the chaos in the world today, it would be easy to be pessimistic, discouraged and even fearful about our future. Yet, as I look back on the accomplishments of the Class of 2017 we should all be filled with great hope. Many of you have already earned college credits through the New Hampshire Collegiate system or from other colleges such as Georgia Tech University and Harvard. Your class is comprised of, AP and Merit scholars, scholar athletes, athletic champions, talented dancers, artists, singers, musicians, poets, skilled tradesmen, computer programmers, builders of tiny houses and even a mayor. You kept the Carroll County trophy in our trophy case, and again dominated on the New Hampshire ski slopes with both the boys and girls teams emerging as the Nordic skiing state champions, you continued the dominance of the girls’ alpine skiing, running our tally to seven consecutive state championships, you jumped your way to the state ski jump title and added another state championship on the ice winning our fourth hockey championship.
Among you today are state champions in instrumental and choral music, champions in graphics, robotics and many, many more academic and career and technical accomplishments. Your machine tool classmates worked with NASA and manufactured flight certified hardware in our machine tool program, those parts are now circling the globe aboard the International Space Station. Six seniors recently traveled to meet with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, making our school one of three high schools in the entire country to now manufacture life critical hardware for NASA. I am sure some of you will succeed in your goal to work for NASA as engineers or flight hardware designers. Heaven forbid should we ever hear those fateful words again “Houston we have a problem” we can all rest comfortably knowing our former Kennett NASA students would surely be a part of the NASA rescue team.
Five members of your class earned their LNA medical certifications, seven more seniors completed their ASE automotive certifications and six more aspiring teachers have already worked in the classrooms with our students in the elementary and middle school. Amongst our graduating class today are nine students, who have completed their high school requirements in 3 years, demonstrating the grit, determination and singular focus which will carry them far in life. Your classmates were the leaders of our amazing Key Club donating five times as much money as any high school Key Club in New England, performing thousands of hours of community service and again being named the top Key Club in our region.
Graduates you have shown compassion, strength, tenacity, understanding and empathy for others. You have demonstrated the ability to listen and shown a willingness to change your mind in response to new evidence or information. You have shown grace under pressure academically, socially, and when personal problems and challenges emerged. Your presence on this stage today is a testimony to the courage and determination of your spirit and character. Your can do attitude.
All of you have faced challenges at Kennett and have had to adapt and overcome problems. You have demonstrated that you have the ability and character to achieve success, build on those experiences as you enter the next phase of adulthood.
Graduates, you will need all these talents, skills and attributes as you go forth in your life; for you enter a world that is in desperate need of your services, energy, ideas and passion. We seem to be a nation divided with anger and bitterness, each news cycle increasingly brings new and unimaginable horrors and events. Rather than a nation united we are drifting toward a nation divided, characterized by intolerance, hate speech and racism, tearing apart the concept of the United States as the great melting pot, an ideal and belief which has made our nation great and helped create the Great American Dream.
Reports of fake news, allegations of political tampering by foreign powers and dictators who threaten our nation and the world seem to be the new normal. This country and our world is in need of your ideas, your leadership and kind, positive energy.
You have no doubt heard on the TV, radio or read on line, how things were better in the old days. The old days had their fair share of horrific problems and generations of Americans just like you met them head on and responded with strong, compassionate leadership. Now it is your time, you have the potential to continue to make our future bright, exciting and filled with wonderful possibilities. We can’t live in the past or live in fear, rather we must live in the present with great optimism for a bright and rewarding future. Things will get better, but the only way that will happen is through people. I challenge you to go forward and use your talent and intellect to create real, positive and lasting change. Your schooling here may be over, but your education continues. Outside this campus there is a world filled with opportunity and challenge. With great challenge, come great opportunity. Your success depends on your character, work ethic and attitude. It is easy to be successful when things go as planned but that will not always be the case. The true test of an individual is not how they react when things are going well but how they react when things become difficult. You will find that life is unpredictable and not often fair and your ability to achieve success rests with how you react when faced with adversity.
In order to achieve things that you’ve never accomplished before, you must be willing to work harder and do things that you have never done. Do not give up when times get tough. Life rarely works out as expected and while it is good to make plans, be prepared to let them go and make new ones. Even the best plans look different at the end than they did at the beginning.
And so, as our newly minted Eagles prepare to spread their wings and soar, graduates let me leave you one parting message. Stay open to new ideas and embrace the possibilities that come when you are a life-long learner. Find something that you are passionate about, which gives you a strong sense of purpose. Work hard, for a strong work ethic will carry you far in life. Whatever accomplishments we have in life are usually the result of hard work and help from family and friends. The only thing achieved in life without effort is failure. Finally, say please and thank you, good manners are always appreciated, hold the door for others, as I have done for so many of you, volunteer in your community and remain honest and kind.
I hope you remember your years at Kennett as some of the best times of your life, where you embraced life with gusto, and learned to love, laugh and live life to the fullest.
It has been my privilege to serve as your principal, and I thank you for that opportunity. I wish you all the best of luck and success in your future endeavors!
Congratulations to you, the graduates of the class of 2017!