EAST BRUNSWICK – A four-year journey concluded for the seniors at East Brunswick High School last week.
As hundreds of graduates entered the CURE Insurance Area in Trenton, a mixture of family and friends gathered to celebrate the milestone on June 22.
For many students, the commencement signified the end of an unpredictable chapter. The familiar pressures of high school and the uncertainty of the pandemic merged to re-define their education and experiences. Nonetheless, they endured and overcame both academic and personal challenges to graduate.
However, before receiving their diplomas, several key speakers addressed the Class of 2022 with stories from high school, words of encouragement and advice for the future.
Shaheer Saud, senior class president, shared a speech that centered around embracing courage. He recalled his hesitancy to get involved in school-related activities due to the comparison trap. He initially believed he couldn’t excel because of his fear of failure. However, with the encouragement of his teacher, he decided to take a chance on himself by embracing new opportunities.
Ironically, he expressed that his biggest fear became his greatest strength.
“I soon learned that failure would be my greatest teacher. Every failure is a step closer to success. At some point in your life, you will fail. You will lose, you will embarrass yourself. It is what you do with these failures that makes one successful,” Saud said.
Following his remarks, Carson He, valedictorian of the class, took the podium to address the audience. He explained that for many students, the pandemic shifted the focus from the classroom to other issues. Thus, making it difficult for students to prioritize education as new changes were seemingly implemented every day.
He also addressed the fear of uncertainty. He stated that although fear will reemerge throughout the course of life, it does not have to influence, define, or control you. He described that the unpredictable path that ultimately led to graduation wasn’t without its complexities and challenges.
“As we’ve seen these last three years, the path we’re on right now is complex and unpredictable. It twists, turns, winds round and round in circles. It plummets into precipitous cliff faces and forks off in a billion different directions … we never really know what lies ahead because the path is constantly changing, whether we’re ready for it or not … this path we’re on can beat us up from [the outside], so it’s important that we don’t beat ourselves up from within,” he said.
Like Saud, He encouraged his peers to step into the “real world” with courage despite the “what ifs” of uncertainty and failure.
Similarly, Dr. Michael W. Vinella, principal of East Brunswick High School (EBHS), shared in his address that the world needs more people to be courageous.
Using a glass of water, he illustrated the glass half-empty/half-full analogy to explain that a person can control their outlook.
Thus, he implored the Class of 2022 to face the world with an open mind and a bold confidence that will thrive regardless of the naysayers or doubters. Vinella said the ingenuity of a positive and innovative mind has the power to truly benefit the world.
“Open mindedness is critical in your efforts to conquer tough challenges and seize new opportunities. Make sure you keep a close eye out for people saying, ‘We already tried that in the past,’ a signal that your cup runneth over with the poisons of conventional thinking … you see, Class of 2022, individuals who focus on whether the glass is half full or half empty, miss the point. The glass is refillable.
“You control what goes in it, your prescription of it, and what you can do with it. The worst thing you can have in life is the regret of not seizing the chance to fill your glass. Class of 2022, you have the knowledge and skills to move on and fill your own glass in life.
“Do it your way, and have fun,” Vinella said.