It's strange how each class has it's own personality. One would think in a group of 350 students, the clubs, cliques, and groups would balance out to a monolithic, generic "high school class" but apparently each year brings a new group who's identity is shaped by its surroundings...and its own members. The Class of 2014's identity was clear to me in August 2011 when I met them for the first time.
For lack of a better word, this Class is chatty.
From the second I walked into my 10th grade class that year, I could tell this group had a mind of its own, and plenty to say. With so much random energy, I could tell this Class was going to be a challenge, yet had a potential to succeed it's predecessors. Previous Classes had accomplished great things both within and beyond the classroom, yet previous Classes lacked the enthusiasm found in the now-graduating seniors. Honestly, it's not something you can manufacture; you either have it or you don't. I'm not sure why students born in 1995-1996 are different, but this group's perpetual energy was apparent from Day 1 and has continued until now (Day 726).
However... "chatty" is not a usually positive term. One would not visit a celebrated head of state or an especially great communicator and describe them "chatty" in an effort to show praise. No, chatty implies energy, talent, passion...but a lack of purpose, unity, and focus. A person described as "chatty" will talk and talk and talk...but not really say much. They'll be great potential for building something, but it will never really escape the exploratory stages. Chatty implies a lack of anything serious or lasting, or real. And to be honest, this describes your class perfectly. While your drive is above and beyond your predecessors and even your heirs (the current Juniors), your focus and unity is a fleeting thing. I've seen amazing group projects crumble as they never leave the planning stages. I've seen after school activities falter as not enough students came together. I've seen Senioritis hit some of you before February was complete has you attempted to play limbo with your grades (how low could you go? 60% Thankfully you all made it). It's the different between a laser pointer and a keychain light: it's focus that makes all the difference.
And yet...I've seen what you can accomplish when you truly follow the school's model. This group has made some of the best King Arthur videos I've ever seen or expected. Your "Highlander Huddles" at the Friday night football games made local news. Your farewell speeches have generated buzz not just in your class, but around the school and throughout the Twitter community. Some of you have shown yourself to be true leaders as you focused that "chatty" nature and used it for service, such as NHS or Special Olympics. The Purbalite wrote more pages than ever before! Others were able to take that raw energy and pull off the first ever Lip Sync contest, or the "Silent Night" January 14th event. And in fact, this group was at it's most creative, complex, and organized when it ran it's own underground community, complete with courts, juries, laws, rules, codes of honor, and warfare for the "Water Gun Game Which Doesn't Exist and Shall Remain Nameless". Your Prom was a spectacle beyond any I've seen in my four years...and all of that was done with just a fraction of your efforts.
What's my point? I believe as a Class, you left a lot on the table. Much of your chatty nature lets energy bleed into nothingness never to be seen again. And yet, even as you accidentally tied one hand behind your back, you were still able to accomplish some moments of greatness. Imagine what you could do with full focus. Imagine what you could do, both individually and as a group with the full force of your potential focused towards a clear goal. It would have been, and still will be, a sight to behold.
There is good news though. Today isn't Graduation...it's Commencement. As I'm sure you'll hear several times tonight, Commencement is not the end, but literally the beginning. You've made it through the opening tutorial of your life. You've finished the prologue. You've watched the "before the credits" action scene. Now it's time to start keeping score. You have all the energy, passion, power, and potential you could hope for...you simply need that goal, dream, or focus to make it happen. Some of you have already found it, others won't find it for years, but I believe when it happens...you'll all have what it takes.
So good luck, best wishes, congratulations...and all those classic expressions. It's been an unforgettable four years we've shared. We'll see you...out there. Until next time.