My remarks to the Class of 2020

Congratulations to the McCaskey Class of 2020, and hats off to the many people behind the scenes who helped make the broadcast of our commencement ceremony on WGAL go off without a hitch. I’m happy to share my remarks from that beautiful event below. Always McCaskey Proud!

Greetings families, friends, educators, members of the McCaskey Class of 2020 and all the viewers at home.

Thank you for joining us to celebrate commencement for these young people, in the most unique of circumstances.

Graduates, it breaks my heart that I cannot address these words to you person. Know that you are all here with me in spirit.

Time moves so quickly. I still hope we can celebrate together, when the time is right. But I would be remiss not to thank WGAL for stepping up to provide the first-ever live television broadcast of McCaskey’s commencement.

Seniors, since we were unable to have our senior honors banquet this year; you will be recognized during the receiving of diplomas with the medallions you have earned throughout your high school career.  You will be receiving your plates as soon as they are completed.

In thinking about the right words to say to you, I confess …

I cannot reflect on graduating during a pandemic more beautifully than Alexa.

I cannot reflect on this moment in our country’s history more profoundly than Jason.

But I can say, on behalf of the generations who came before, we need you. And we believe in you.

Take pride in what you have accomplished at McCaskey—as a class, and as individuals.

You have earned hundreds of college credits through Dual Enrollment, A-P and International Baccalaureate courses. Some of you will pursue higher education. Others of you will serve in our military. Some of you will go out into the workforce. Many of you are already working, in grocery stores and nursing homes, on the front lines of this pandemic.

You are ready for life after high school.

You are all leaving McCaskey a better place for your having been here. Before your school year was cut short, you collected tons of food for the Water Street Mission. Months before the turmoil of today, you were engaging in collaborative, productive conversations with law enforcement and city government. Many of you joined the rallies for social justice of the past few weeks.

You were some of the “early adopters” of things like restorative practices in school. You spoke up for all students. You pushed the school board, administration and campus leadership to think hard about what equity in our schools means—and how to achieve it. This is work that we pledge to continue.

And I ask you to pledge something to yourself, to your peers, and to your community. Pledge that you will continue to lead—because we need you.

There are many issues in our country and across the world for you to lend your voice and to lead. Racism, poverty, income inequality, equal rights for everyone including the LGBTQ plus community,  climate change, immigration, school safety, and equal educational opportunities for all.  The list can go on, but knowing that this class will lead the future of our country and beyond, brings peace to my weary heart. Because I have seen the leadership of the class of 2020.

Back in March, I quoted the Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, who famously wrote, “Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera,” or, You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.

YOU are our springtime. May your lives bloom and flourish and help to make a more beautiful world.

Thank you and congratulations Class of 2020!