When it came time for Corvallis High School’s 10 valedictorians to address their classmates at the school’s graduation Monday night, they took the opportunity to share lessons they had learned in their time at the school.
“High school is about learning and in spite of what our parents may think, we have learned so much,” said the group’s first speaker.
“If you work hard and persevere you can achieve anything,” said one of the valedictorians about what he learned at CHS.
“What I learned in high school is I’m not very good at public speaking,” said one of the valedictorians in a single sentence address that earned some laughter from the audience.
“I learned it’s important to not stretch yourself too thin,” said another, saying she enjoyed her senior year more when she cut back on activities.
“I learned it matters less the road you travel than the people you travel it with,” said another.
“A successful education teaches you how to think. At CHS I learned to think,” said another.
“This is only the start of our education,” said the last of the valedictorians.
These lessons were given during the school’s celebration of the more than 280 students in its graduating class of 2016.
Matt Boring, the school’s principal, also spoke during the event, offering one last lesson of his own to the class. He described how as he was trying to write his address Sunday he was seeing news about the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which left 50 people dead.
“Like a lot of you on the night before an essay is due, I was looking for a prompt,” he said. “I plumbed the depths of my wisdom, which really only took about 15 seconds.”
And he described looking at the class’ graduation announcement as he was looking for inspiration. And he found the class’ motto:
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“Don’t let your dreams just be dreams — just do it.”
Boring said the “Just do it” culture originated with Nike adopting that as its slogan in 1988, and that the culture of acting without thoughtfulness has resulted in poisoning of the environment, politics that have ground to a halt, and allowing things like the shooting in Orlando to happen.
“Our version of ‘Just do it’ isn’t working,” he said. “Sorry.”
However, he said the class of 2016 is the best he has seen in 27 years of working in high schools and was optimistic about what they would do in the world.
But he offered alternatives to “Just do it.”
“Just fix it,” he said. “Just listen. Just respect yourselves and others,” he said.
He also called the class the most tolerant he had ever seen.
“It’s been a pleasure being your principal. I just hope some of your traits have rubbed off on me.”
Three of the event’s speakers gave parts of their address' in Spanish, including Brian Ixtlahuac and Jonathan Rodriguez, the co-presidents of the senior class.
In a part of his address in English, Rodriguez said he was proud of his Mexican-American heritage and was excited to show what Latinos can do.
“Many of our parents crossed the border so we could cross the stage,” he said. “That day is today.”