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'We are all ships and it’s at this point in life that we must leave the harbor'

Hello, Class of 2020. I wish I could address you all in an auditorium full of 139 graduating seniors but circumstances have prevented that.

I’ve always pictured my future as nothing but wonderful. I know one day I would get a car. One day I would get a job. I know one day I’d graduate high school, maybe meet a girl I’d fall in love with. I know one day I’d buy a house, get married, maybe have a few kids. I know one day I’d be there to walk my daughter down the aisle or stand shoulder to shoulder with my son and his best man. I know one day I'd be happy to eat salad and maybe drink just straight water.

But I also know that life isn’t always just lollipops and rainbows. I know I’ll have to say goodbye as death turns to guide friends and family where I can't follow. I know, there will be times when I can see no good way out. I know I’ll make mistakes. I know there are demons waiting in the shadows to drag me down. I know there is rain in the forecast.

But I also know to be grateful for everything that comes into my life, both the good and the bad because this is what builds a man. I know this year has been difficult for all of us. I have had many let downs. So have you. I know life has said no to what we’ve planned and to what we’ve been promised. I know there have been circumstances that have crushed some and broken others. But I also know we can make it through. This school, this class, my friends, have done amazing things. This class has raised some of the most money this school has ever seen. We were the first class to go on a class trip in 5 years and not only a day excursion but a 4-day cruise to Bermuda!

This class has made history by living through this time and we will continue to thrive. Cheated of privileges others have taken for granted, we have pushed through. Charlie Shedd once said, “A ship is safest in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” We are all ships and it’s at this point in life that we must leave the harbor. If you are listening to this, you have already started toward the ocean. So as I leave you all, I’m here to tell you that what lies beyond that rose-colored sunset is not all fun and games. You’re about to get a huge dose of the ocean and the perils are many and will have no mercy on you. You will be thrown about and maybe take on some water but whatever you do, remember that there are still good people out there to help you and that there is always hope. Sometimes you just have to look for it. Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Swift and safe sailing to all of you, and I pray you reach that white sandy shore a better man or woman than when you started. Thank you, Class, of 2020. It has been a privilege being your class president.

(True Smith is the Class President at Norwich Technical High School.)

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