The Pandemic Graduation Speech I'll Never Get to Give

Is my mic on? Can you hear—Oh, I'm still muted?

Stupid Zoom. Been using the damn thing for 15 months, and they still need two hands to find their—Class of 2021, hello and congratulations!

I'm honored to speak at your high school graduation, virtual though it may be. Many of us have received our vaccinations, and we're still following the safety protocols drilled into us since last year. I'd like to thank you for caring about the people around you and about humanity in general.

Of course, some of you are still too young to receive the shots, and some of your parents are. . . I guess we're calling it "vaccine hesitant," instead of the less-delicate term I wanted to use.

You would think that with a kid graduating high school, they would show a little more interest in education and—sorry, Principal Densbridge. I thought I was muted again.

Anyway, class of 2021, we're going to celebrate your accomplishments in the fields of English, mathematics, social studies, history, and of course, science.

I mean, seriously, they don't trust science? How could you not trust science? Your kids literally went to school on a science. You share your stupid conspiracy memes on a damn science. What's not to believe—yes, sorry, Principal Densbridge. No, I do know how a mute button works. That one was on purpose.

Now, class of 2021, I will be the first to admit that the last 15 months have not been what you wanted. The class of 2020 didn't get to graduate, and you all spent your entire senior year on Zoom.

You took classes on Zoom. You did projects on Zoom. Musicians gave their senior recitals on Zoom. If you've never heard a piccolo over a set of computer speakers, count yourself lucky. It's like hearing a child's whistle inside a tin can.

Of course, your teachers and administrators didn't like it either. The year has been stressful, they've had to learn new technology and new teaching methods, and they've helped all of you adjust to your new lives too.

On the upside, none of them have actually worn pants since last March, and they're pretty pleased about that.

Of course, life can't be lived on Zoom, and many of you were stuck at home with your parents working from home every day. Some of you would rather slide down sandpaper.

That's okay; they said the same thing about you. Fifteen months of hearing you randomly burst out laughing at TikTok videos is enough to make the Pope commit murder.

But not everyone paid attention in school, and I only have to look at my Facebook feed to see evidence of it.

Some of you didn't pay attention in science. Your grasp of basic scientific principles is shamefully lacking, and it shows in the pseudo-scientific quackery you share on social media.

Some of you didn't pay attention in government. Your slobbering support of the Capitol insurrection shows you lack a basic understanding of how a democracy works.

Some of you didn't pay attention in civics. Your complete unwillingness to help society and its people shows you have a little empathy for humanity and the weaker and less fortunate.

And that's why we're having graduation on Zoom this year.

Yes, Principal Densbridge, that was on purpose too.

I realize that many of you did not get to experience the year you wanted. You missed your prom, you missed your graduation, you missed your senior prank.

I'm sorry, that does suck. I don't blame you for being upset.

But let me tell you this instead: For most of you, this year was not going to be the most exciting one of your life.

If this year had been a normal year, it wouldn't even rank in your top ten. Because you're in for bigger, better things.

You'll fall in love. You'll get married, or not. Have kids, or not.

You'll have an amazing career, or you'll own your own business doing the thing you love.

You'll become the person you were meant to be, and your life will change the lives of so many others.

Those years will be so glorious that this year won't even be a blip in your personal history.

Of course, if you're like some of the kids I went to high school with, this was your glory year. This is the year you were going to peak, and nothing was going to be as good as this year. So try again next year. This past year was a mulligan, so do it over and try again.

Because your best year doesn't end with this day, the new one starts tomorrow.

Whatever else happens, take joy in the fact that we made it. We made it through one of the toughest experiences of our lives. You survived high school, we survived the plague, and you survived spending 24 hours a day in the same house as your parents for 16 months.

Whatever life throws at you, you've got this. No pain is too great, no obstacle is too high.

Because your parents haven't been wearing pants either, which means you can handle anything.

Photo credit: Goodfreephotos_com (Pixabay, Creaative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.