Friends, faculty, alumni, and fellow classmates, good afternoon and thank you all for coming to my TED talk. Only kidding. Just a little valedictorian's joke to kick things off before we all disperse into the world to work at high-paying prestigious institutions like McDonald's, or, if we're lucky, Starbucks. That's also a joke, mostly. Peter Springer, if you're listening, I'll have two Big Macs and a venti cold brew.
But seriously, thanks for coming out today. It means a lot to me. You all, of course, had no choice in the matter if you want to receive your diplomas, those little scraps of paper that say you survived thirteen years of institutionalized, government-funded prison. But I love all my fans and appreciate your support and attendance nonetheless.
Can you believe we made it this far?
We've all been through a lot together these past four years. Like, remember that time Courtney Adams had her Red Wedding in precalculus because she wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom? Remember when Mike Newman and Tanner Yates got caught selling weed in the bathroom and we lost our hall pass privileges for the rest of the year, which resulted in Courtney's accident? Remember when we found out Joey Mariano was actually an undercover cop?
Man, what a fun six months that all was. Here's hoping Mike and Tanner get out of juvie soon.
Still, the rest of us made it through those things, because we're what? That's right—the class of 2022!
And we wouldn't have come this far without the help of our wonderful teachers. Facts. Like Mr. Larson, the most-dope social studies teacher a guy could ask for, who would always leave halfway through class every Film Friday and come back with bloodshot eyes five minutes before the bell rang.
Let's also thank Ms. Jackson, the GOAT band instructor, for teaching us ingenuity by hiding her hip flasks inside her trombone case.
And how could we forget to commend gym teacher Mr. Anderson for showing us what not to do when he snuck into the girl's locker room during shower time and ended up getting arrested? Boy, was Joey Mariano helpful or what?
Yes, we've changed a lot in four years, as have those around us. Who would've guessed we'd see shy, quiet Joshua Pierce doing what he did on that Zoom call last year, though maybe the industrial-sized bottle of Jergens lotion should've been an indicator?
How could we have known that it'd be Natalie Cooper, with her freckles and braces and pigtails, who'd be the first one in our class to get pregnant, and not head cheerleader, mini skirt queen, and tanning bed enthusiast Mariah Young? Well, a lot of bets were lost that day, I can tell you that much.
But let that be a reminder to us all going forward not to judge a book by its cover. Or at least skim through chapter one first.
Change has been a journey, though. Facts. Ask anybody and they'll tell you the same: it hasn't been easy.
You think Veronica O'Donnell enjoyed going over to Mr. Stewart's house for a candlelight dinner while his wife was away at a conference? You think she wanted to sit in his cat-piss-reeking home nibbling at dry casserole and slurping cheap Zinfandel? No. But she wanted to read Othello even less.
What I'm saying is: we all had to make sacrifices to get here today.
Heck, I've had my fair share of difficulties too. Like the time I asked Jenna Matthews to the prom and she ran a poll over Instagram to see if she should go with me or Chuck Oakley. Shoutout to the fourteen percent of you who had my back.
Or the time I went over to Mr. Stewart's cat-piss house for a candlelight dinner. Hey, I high-key didn't wanna read Othello either.
But what's important to remember is that those changes in life, difficult though they may be, are necessary for growth. Writer, producer, and religious visionary L. Ron Hubbard once said: "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion." So I encourage you all to follow his advice and be the change you wish to see in the world. What's the worst that could happen?
Now, as we get ready to leave Saint Patrick Catholic School and embark on our separate paths in life, I also urge you all to remember the years you've devoted to this place and what they've taught you. Reminisce on the years you spent stuffing your body with energy drinks and ramen noodles and Big Macs with venti cold brews. The years of begrudgingly choosing homework over meeting "hot singles in your area." The years of working up the courage to ask your crush to the prom.
And remember the months. Recall those months committed to learning the difference between "daddy" and "zaddy." The months of constantly wondering if your lab partner is also an undercover cop. The months of writing down exactly what to say when you ask your crush to the prom.
And remember the good days. Think of the day you didn't get called up to the front of the class when you were having an emergency "downstairs." The day you thought you were straight but then discovered the wonders of bisexuality through a game of spin the bottle. The day you decided to turn the other cheek and not set fire to someone's pink Porsche because she rejected your proposal to go to the prom.
Because I'm sure you've all had a lot of moments you're fond of too.
Going forward, I ask you all to take these moments with you as you embrace change. Be intrepid, dauntless, resolute, as I'm no doubt sure Jenna Matthews was in the back seat of Chuck Oakley's filthy Honda Civic on prom night. And she didn't even need a poll to decide that for her or anything! If that's not change, I don't know what is.
A wise man—probably L. Ron Hubbard—once said, "These are the best years of our lives." And maybe that's true. Maybe high school is the peak of life. Maybe what we leave behind today will be better than what lies ahead in the future.
But we'll never know unless we go forward, unless we grow and change. And we will change. Starting now. Because this is the last time we can call ourselves high-schoolers.
Oops. Sorry, Brendan Baker, and good luck on getting that GED, fam.
Still, for the rest of us, the class of—say it with me—2022, no matter how much you do change, always remember these days. Especially today, because what a day it has been, and what a glorious day it will be. What a day.