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Yesterday, Provo City School District celebrated our fall graduates with a separate ceremony for working hard over the summer to fulfill graduation requirements.

Independence High School graduate, Jessica, started the graduation as the Commencement Speaker, detailing her journey from the low valleys of academic and personal distress to the peak of graduation.

“At the start of my time at Independence, I still didn’t feel like I belonged. I stopped attending school.”

She ditched school until an unexpected friend reached out, hoping to make her feel welcome at Independence. This friend, Jessica shares, saw the best in her, even when she didn’t see it in herself.

“One day, during the summer, she invited me to the Independence JROTC program. The program changed my life.”

Jessica says that she was grateful that she joined. She underwent a paradigm shift; her world grew from a pin-drop of isolation and doubt to a vast horizon full of opportunities.

“I’ve met so many people. I’ve met friends, teachers, counselors, and our principal, Principal Griffin, who helped me along the way.”

She said that she wanted to live up to the expectations of her teachers and friends; she strived to meet the goals she set for herself.

“I wanted to learn. I wanted to make my teachers proud. I wanted to make it through graduation.”

She recounted some of her favorite moments from high school:

“I got to snowboard, I went camping for the first time in my life, I visited the Timpanogos Caves for an Environmental Field Trip. I joined the Hope Squad and learned how to look after others.”

After joining the Hope Squad, Jessica was in a place to help others, much as her friend helped her to grow.

“You have to push yourself and believe in yourself. All of you graduates have accomplished something great in your life.”

After the commencement speech, each High School principal spoke briefly to their graduating students.

Independence High School’s Principal Jacob Griffin shared a poem.

“Be proud of who you are, where you are from / and what makes you stand out as a Provo City alum.”

In his poem, he recognized each of his students in personalized stanzas.

Jeremy kept working throughout the long while. He never forgot to greet me with a smile. Bobby was crafty– he sometimes lied– but the day that he finished, I nearly cried.”

Provo High School’s Principal, Jarod Sites, reminded students of the value of time– both as graduates and in thanking and experiencing life with their loved ones as they move forward as adults. He invites students to spend their time wisely, doing things for and with those they love.

When seniors complete their high school experience, they’ve completed thirteen years of schooling. That’s 180 days of education times thirteen. So, for 2040 days of school, your parents, caregivers, and siblings helped you prepare for school each morning. And yet, if you were to ask your parents, grandparents, and family members who helped you get ready each morning, they would tell you that those years had gone by very, very quickly.

Time is very precious. As you think about this day and your future, you’ll recognize that time can never be given back– once it’s gone, it’s gone. You have much time ahead of you, but don’t forget to spend time with those who matter. Congratulations, and I wish you the very best in your future.

Timpview High School’s Principal, Momi Tu’ua, reminded students of the genuine difference that a graduation certificate makes in their lives through a useful analogy and story of house renovation:

Last week, I helped a friend renovate her house by first removing the carpet. But removing the carpet was just the beginning. We all know that after you remove the carpet, you have to deal with padding, tack board, the million staples, and nails that come with it. That morning, I only went with the carpet remover– I didn’t have all of the tools to finish the job.

Today, you are adding to your life’s toolbox by graduating with a high school diploma. Like renovating a home, you won’t use your certificate every day– but when you need it, you’ll have it to create the world you want to see. If you have a job, ask your boss for a raise. You have a high school diploma. If you’re going to learn a trade skill, you can. You have a diploma that meets many trade school requirements. If you want to attend college, you can. You have a high school diploma.

The graduation ended with a few words from our Provo City School District board member, Teri McCabe. She challenged students to go out and tackle their life goals, set a bucket list, travel, and try new things. Teri then accepted their graduation status and recommended them all for commencement.

Each student walked across that stage and received the diploma they each worked so hard to earn.

On behalf of Provo City School District, congratulations to the graduates of 2022, and welcome to your first day of post-high-school life.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei
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