The fearful are not a small group, Principal Dr. Robert Blake told the 50th graduating class of Mainland Regional High School at their June 20 graduation.
“Many of you are here tonight with some level of trepidation about what lies ahead of you,” said Blake. “If that is the case, you are in good company. As Carly Fiorina, a prominent and powerful businesswoman admitted... ‘I was afraid the day I walked into Stanford. And I was afraid the day I walked out.’”
With that fear are choices on how to handle it. Blake instructed the class to face their fears with the confidence that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, and to strive for excellence in all they did.
“The fears are paper tigers,” Blake said, quoting Amelia Earhart. “You can do anything you decide to do.”
For the class of over 350 students, Mainland is a springboard to bigger and better things, Blake said.
Bigger and better things for everyone, said Valedictorian Vincent Leo Butrus.
“I want to shatter the illusion that the world can only be changed by philanthropists,” Butrus said.
Change has a ripple effect, Butrus said. It starts small, “in ones own backyard or community,” he said.
“The choice to impact the world is a conscious decision that comes from within… It makes a person with no reason to smile crack a grin,” Butrus explained.
It’s “the spark I know every graduate and person here tonight has within.”
Butrus shared one quote that he turned to often in his high school career. “Our generation has the ability to improve our world.”
Butrus went on to explain in his own words. “We are not, as John Mayer said, “waiting on the world to change.””
To leave their mark, Salutatorian Lindsay Marie Dever “challenged students to be original and to question what they’re told.”
Quoting Emerson, Dever told students, “do not go where there is a path. Go where there is not a path and blaze a trail.”
And on this journey, “don’t forget to enjoy every step you take,” Dever said. “I guarantee you if you enjoy the journey, the reward will be sweet.”
Most students interviewed reported that they were ready to take the next step.
“It feels amazing (to graduate)!” said Julia Zeltner. “Words can’t describe.” When asked what their summer plans were, Zeltner and fellow graduates Lauren Perlman and Sarah Schutz answered in unison that they would be spending the summer preparing for college.
“I’m so excited… I’m ready to go on to college and try new things,” said graduate Anna Lacy, who will attend the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to study history. She was not sure which career path she would pursue at the time.
“It’s going to be a bucket list summer,” graduate Vincent March said with a smile.