Viewpoint: The Real Graduation Speech

By Jeline Schy
Special to the Palisades News

(Editor’s note: Jeline was one of Palisades High School’s graduation speakers and has allowed us to reprint her speech. She is the daughter of Palisadians Brad and Michell Schy. Jeline plans to attend Santa Monica College and then transfer to UCLA and eventually become an animal cognition researcher.)

Hello, my name is Jeline and I’m average. I’ve just been a face wandering through the halls completing high school one day at a time.

Being average means I wasn’t that kid with a 4.5 GPA, who also tutored after school. I wasn’t the kid who could understand the entire lesson plan through one example the teacher gave. I wasn’t the kid who invented something amazing or spectacular. I’ve been your average high school student.

Credit: Lesly Hall
Jeline Schy Credit: Lesly Hall

When I came to Pali, I had such high expectations for myself. I wish someone would have told me, that while yes, you should always try your best and go above and beyond, if your above and beyond turns out to be just average, that’s okay.

I slowly and thankfully have learned that. I’ve accepted the fact that not achieving those lofty expectations I once had is fine so long as I’m happy, healthy, and prepared for what comes next.

We should all be excited because I know average people can do some quite astonishing things. Take J.K. Rowling, for example; she was an average student. She graduated from high school, went to Exeter University because she applied to Oxford and didn’t get in. Then, she went on to live an ordinary life. But then this average mom did something amazing, she wrote a book. She was rejected by 12 publishers before finally getting a book deal. Her books have set records with combined sales of over 450 million. That’s just one example out of the thousands of average people who have done remarkable things.

As I look at our class, I see dedication. We might even have the next J.K. Rowling sitting with us here today. We have all tried our hardest, maybe also slacking off a bit at times, but all in all it’s done. We have crossed the finish line and our high school years have finally come to an end. The ordinary and the extraordinary are graduating.

As Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I think no other words could define this moment as perfectly as that. I see us leaving our steady familiar place heading into the constantly changing world. How heartbreaking it is to leave all we know behind, but also how exciting it is that we get to start the next chapter in our lives.

Being average means there will always be someone better than you, and someone worse than you.

And while one can be less than average in one aspect, a person might also be exceptional in another. You might be an outstanding jokester, but a substandard driver. You might be a phenomenal cook, but a terrible test taker. No matter where on the scale of average you fall, we are all receiving the same diploma today. So congratulations, and remember that even average people can do extraordinary things.

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