Michael Ziencina’s Graduation Address

Administration, faculty, staff, parents, family and friends, and of course my fellow graduates of the Class of 2011:  Good afternoon, and welcome to graduation.  My name is Michael Ziencina and I have been the President of today’s graduating class since our freshman year.  I stand before you at this bitter-sweet hour, honored with the opportunity to address you all as the representative of each respectable and accomplished  individual seated behind me, and a little heartbroken knowing that this will be my last time speaking as their voice.

Before I get to the inspirational words and wisdom-filled advice, I feel it necessary to thank a few people who have made our time in high school as enjoyable and rewarding as it has been:  First and foremost, I would like to thank every parent in the audience.  Without your guidance, understanding, and love, we would not have been able to become what we are today, nor would we have made it this far in life.  My fellow graduates, please thank your parents after today’s ceremony and be aware that what you are, you are only because of them.

Secondly I’d like to thank each staff member at Ludlow High School – Especially teachers.  Although the lousy paychecks and the political aspects of being a teacher often lessened your happy moods and elevated your agitation, you looked past it all, dedicating yourself only to serving your students.  Thank you for that.  There are, however, three teachers in particular that have truly dedicated themselves to this class, and I would like to acknowledge them personally and, on behalf of the entire class, give them a giant thank you – Our class advisors:  Mrs. Mathisen, Mrs. Picard, and Mr. Smith.  Thank you guys so much for everything.

Furthermore, I’d also like to thank our principal, Gina Flanagan.  Since the beginning of this year she has devoted herself to maintaining a positive attitude throughout the halls, keeping the students happy and motivated, and fulfilling her responsibilities as leader of Ludlow High School to the maximum.  She has been with us each and every day throughout our senior year.   Unfortunately she couldn’t be here today, but her efforts have been much appreciated.  Thank you, Mrs. Flanagan.

Finally I’d like to thank each member of the school committee.  They decide the fate of Ludlow Public Schools, and, in the face of many difficult decisions, have done a fine job establishing the students as their first priority.  Furthermore, I’d like to acknowledge Dr. Kane for her services as our district’s superintendent, and I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors within the districts of other communities.  Thank you, Dr. Kane.

Now onto the inspiration:  My fellow graduates:  Some of us have known each other since middle school, elementary school, and even pre-school.  The bonds that existed among us during those times have all fused into one throughout our time together at Ludlow High School.  Never have I been a part of something so strong and so filled with friendship and respect.  To express my gratitude, I’ve written you a poem entitled “The Gift”:

For you, my friends, a word or two,

To thank you for our journey and what we’ve been through.

For a couple of minutes, won’t you lend me your ears?

But please, for my sake, don’t let go of your tears.

You’ve given me a gift that I could never forget,

It’s something so powerful, that I can’t let go yet.

See if you can guess, I’ll give you some clues,

And maybe you can get it before the poem is through.

I use it each day wherever I go,

It’s something that, like us, with time, will grow.

It’s not something flashy, and it’s not something tall,

It’s not something pricy, but it’s not something small.

It can make people happy, or can tear them apart,

It’s not something tangible, but it dwells in each heart.

You gave it to me on the day that we met,

I’ve been using it since, but it isn’t gone yet.

Do you know what it is?  Can you tell by my face?

I think you might know, but I’ll tell you just in case.

Though present inside us, it comes from above,

The gift that you’ve given me is the purest of love.

So thank you for the memories and the laughs, my friends,

It’s sad, I know, but all good things end.

Before we leave today, I promise you I’ll cry,

For unfortunately, right now, it is time to say goodbye.

In closing, as I finish these lines, just a few,

Please know, and remember, that I love you too.

Although in the future we’ll be physically apart,

You will, like your gift, live forever in my heart.

And so it is with these words that I leave you, my Class of 2011:  Pursue your dreams and aspirations, never give up on what you truly want, and remember where you came from.  You may face challenges and tough times, but think of the days that we spent together and continue your new journeys knowing that you’re a part of something that believes in you – You’re a part of the Class of 2011.  “One, one, it was fun.”