PBL High School graduates walk off stage

Graduates exit the stage at the end of last Friday night’s PBL High School graduation ceremony.

Following were speeches given by PBL High School graduates during Friday night’s graduation ceremony ...

WELCOME ADDRESS — Jade Miles

Hello and welcome to the class of 2019 graduation. We have all been looking forward to and counting down to this day since the first day of freshman year, and now that it’s here it’s unbelievable.

On behalf of all the students, we would like to thank our parents, grandparents, guardians, teachers, friends and staff for allowing us this opportunity to spend a short 12 years together growing as individuals and as a group. I also would like to thank our school for getting us air conditioning this year so we are not melting during this ceremony; it’s much appreciated!

This is the end of a chapter in our lives, but as we look back and reflect we all have unforgettable memories with each other. As we continue to move on as individuals, we should remember to cherish these moments and continue to make new ones.

Dolly Parton once said: “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

So, class of 2019, let’s start paving another road and start celebrating this amazing accomplishment!

I would now like to introduce our next speaker, Andrew Swanson, who will be speaking about the past.

THE PAST — Andrew Swanson

Parents, families, faculty, staff, administration and graduates: Good evening and thank you for attending this very special night on behalf of all of us on this stage. There have been many people who have helped us to reach this milestone: Parents, teachers and fellow peers. We wouldn’t be here without you.

I didn’t know what to talk about when I found out I would be giving a speech on the past. Honestly, it was the one topic that I knew I would struggle with the most. I hardly remember what I had for lunch on my best day. So I got to thinking about what to talk about. I got to thinking about my past and what has made me into the person I am today.

Athletics have been one of the biggest influences in my life, but it hasn’t always been the most important. I was never the most athletic kid and didn’t really have an interest in them until later in Eastlawn. Once I found sports, my life changed. I was able to make new friends who I say will always be friends.

An important lesson that was taught by all of my coaches — whether it be from Coach Graham, Coach Johnson, Coach Scho or Coach Waugh, just to list a few — is to leave the program in a better place than we found it. This same lesson has so many connections to all of our past.

Our past has formed the legacy we left on this school. This group in front of you has accomplished so much since our days of learning colors and letters in preschool and kindergarten. And all of us have grown from the times of Ben 10, Drake and Josh, Spongebob and the OG Disney Channel.

I believe that the legacy left by this class is one that can be remembered and referenced by teachers in a positive way. I believe that we are a class made of gritty, hard-working and respectful people. Some people say that “it’s a miracle that we made it this far,” but I don’t believe that anyone on this stage doubted that we would be here today. It’s just who we are.

We found this program in a good place and bettered it for the next class to build upon. It’s just one of our accomplishments that have led to our great legacy.

Next, I would like to say a special “thank you” to my parents and family. All of the help during late nights of homework and just dealing with me in general have helped me become the person I am today. In a night when we have speeches on the past, present and future, I can say that you have been a major part of my past and my present and will continue to be in my future. So on behalf of all the graduates, I’d like to say “thank you” to the parents for all of your hard work getting us to this point.

Finally, I would like to end on a quote from the author Sarah Dessen: “Your past is always your past. Even if you forget, it remembers you.”

Graduates, remember this in your time of celebration. Your past is now PBL, and we will always be connected through our experiences. Even if you forget us, we won’t forget you. And this school will remember our legacy forever. All of the marks we made, good and bad, are a part of this school’s and town’s history. Be proud of your past and cherish the memories we made together and as individuals as you go on to bigger and better things. I am proud to be a member of the graduating class of 2019. Thank you.

THE PRESENT — Bridget McMullin

Staff, friends and family, thank you for being here today.

For some reason, I thought choosing the “present” speech to write would be easy. It turns out that I suffered through some intense writer’s block while coming up with the next couple of paragraphs. I mean, we all know what’s happening right now in the present. What am I supposed to say? “Hey, uh, I’m on stage reading a paper. You guys in the audience are just waiting to hear your kid’s name announced so you can get a couple of pictures for Facebook.”

You already know all that stuff and repeating it to you is not that entertaining. I considered spicing everything up a bit and doing some standup comedy: “So how about those diplomas?” But I figured I’d be the only one laughing. So I’ve decided to get a lil’ philosophical with ya.

Throughout high school, a lot of us have been way too caught up remembering the past and worrying about the future that we forget to live in the present. I’m sure most of you can relate. I know this is true for myself. I have spent a lot of the last few years regretting that B I got in biology and questioning every conversation I have ever had. And I have had a lot of sleepless nights wondering where I’ll be for the next four years while anxiously awaiting to see where I’ve been accepted to college (ahem, roll tide). The habit of worrying about the past and future is an issue for parents, as well. I bet that right now there are plenty of parents reminiscing on when their child was just learning to walk. But at the same time, many of you are preparing yourself for a future where ...

“Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it? Am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia? Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning and sang.”

For me, this poem has shown me that worrying about things out of our control will amount to nothing. We are so lucky to live on such a beautiful Earth, and we might as well live every moment enjoying the present.

In fact, when we live in the moment we become aware of the beauty of life that is constantly happening around us. Every second, six babies are born and lightning strikes the ground 100 times. One wedding takes place along with 3 million Google searches. Every single second, the universe has expanded by about 9 miles. Thirty stars explode, but 4,000 new stars are also born. Each moment is proof that with destruction there is rebirth. In our lives, there will be sorrow and pain but also joy and beauty and laughter and wonder.

I hope that each and every one of the 96 students behind me are able to lead lives full of love and giving. I hope we all take the time to live in the moment and fully enjoy the beauty of life.

I would now like to introduce the kind, intelligent and beautiful Mikki Jones, who once said: “It’s not that I don’t like dogs, it’s just that I don’t have a lot in common with them.”

Thanks and roll tide!

THE FUTURE — Mikayla Jones

In April, when a few of my friends and I were called to Mr. Duley’s office and I was given the task of delivering a speech at graduation about the future, I’ll admit that I wasn’t the most excited. It wasn’t that I wasn’t honored to speak on this day that was so monumental for us, but I had no idea how to give an uplifting speech about a future that I, personally, wasn’t looking forward to — and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

The world is changing around us all the time; our lives are a constant roller coaster of emotions and events; and sometimes, especially in a world that seems more harsh than gentle, it is hard to look forward to getting up in the mornings. But then, after some contemplating, I realized I had it all wrong.

The future will be fine, and so will we. Let me tell you why.

A wise man named Jason Peterson once told me that “the only way for evil to persist is for good people to do nothing.” This quote did — and still does — blow me away. In a world where we turn on the news to hear of another mass shooting, where the cost of a college education is skyrocketing, where terrible diseases and maladies exist, where the suicide rate is on the rise from stress, bullying and depression, where there is an increasing number of people starving, not knowing where their next meal will come from, and where feuds within our country drive us apart, how can someone have the nerve to simply blame it all on the good people doing nothing to stop it?

It is easy to get up in the morning and find something to grumble about. But today I challenge you to try and find the positives instead. For instance: cancer deaths have dropped by 25 percent in the United States since 1991, saving more than 2 million lives; there are 9 billion more cubic feet of trees in the U.S. than there were in 1953; education has become more accessible around the world; scientists found a new type of celestial phenomenon and they named it “Steve”; child poverty is at an all-time low; Garth Brooks is on his national stadium tour; Tim Hewerdine survived watching superhero movies for 48 hours straight; and “Toy Story 4” comes out next month!

In a world where sometimes it seems things are crumbling around us, all we have to do is look around and try to find the good. The bad things — and also the good — seem to be happening on such a grand scale that we immediately disassociate ourselves from contributing to either side. We are 90-some farm kids graduating from a rural community, so how are we ever going to be able to make a dent in helping?

And you’re right. None of us are single-handedly going to be able to achieve any kind of victory by ourselves. But sitting behind me today are some of the strongest, most talented individuals I’ve ever met. They stand up for what they believe in and refuse to back down. When life throws them curveballs, they take a strike but then get right back up to the plate and swing again. They are future educators and crop scientists, politicians and pipefitters, nurses and lawyers, doctors and construction workers, foresters and chefs, artists and chemists; most important, though, they are the good individuals who are going to take small steps every day to stop the evil in this world from winning.

The good thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. That being said, making an impact on the world starts with small actions that will make a big difference. We don’t have to carry out monumental deeds to leave our mark on the world.

Smile at people, no matter who they are or if you know them.

Give compliments about more than just appearance; compliment their intelligence, their generosity, their kind-hearted soul.

Don’t judge someone before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes ... and then realize how much of a benefit that was to you; they’re a mile away, and now you’re wearing their shoes.

Tell people you love them every chance you get; you never know when your last chance to say it will be.

Be kind to everyone you meet, without hesitation.

If you see someone in need of help, help them, whether it be helping them pick up their spilled groceries, saving the neighborhood cat from the tree, or giving your sister one last ride around the yard on your shoulders to cheer her up.

Show your appreciation to those people in your life who make you want to be better.

Stop and think about the beauty of the world we live in. Wear sunscreen and make your friends wear sunscreen, too.

Bring enough tissues for everyone when you watch “Marley and Me.”

Go on adventures to new places, and dare to venture out into the unknown.

The future is uncertain, and none of us have the slightest idea what will happen. Make sure you trust God’s plan for your life, even when it’s difficult and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be the people who do their part to make our world stand up against the evil and the bad. Be good to one another.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this slightly modified quote from Ellen Degeneres: “The world is just like one big Mardi Gras — but instead of making poor decisions, show others your good heart. If they like what they see, you’ll have more beads than you know what to do with, and you’ll be surrounded by some pretty fun people.”

Thank you, and laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)!