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Madison Ivory '22 and Aden Katz '22

Maddie:
My name is Maddie Ivory, and this is Aden Katz, and we are so grateful to see you all here today. Before we begin, I want to take a second for gratitude, the friend we always overlook. I want everyone to close their eyes and put their hand on their heart. This organ pumps blood throughout your body with every beat. Its only mission is to keep you alive. It beats for no other reason than for you. Isn't that amazing? Now, I want everyone to open their eyes, if they haven't already. I want you to look at the person to the left or to the right of you and with a wave and a smile say, "Hi neighbor. I appreciate you being here, neighbor.

And if no one turned to you with a wave and a smile, I appreciate you being here today. Now that we've expressed our gratitude for each other and ourselves it's time for us to tell you that we are so proud of you, class of 2022. As friends, peers, and people who have seen you grow from afar. We are so happy to announce that we did it.

I remember asking Aden, if he would consider doing the graduation speech with me if we were selected. He was concerned that we wouldn't be prepared in time, but I think we're ready. Right Aden?

Aden:
Yeah, totally. Let me see here. I am grateful that we got to have yet another day together. Now let's toss those caps in the air and get out of here.

Maddie:
No, no, no. That's for the end, you missed a few pages there.

Aden:
My bad. Let's see. On the note of gratitudes, we have plenty to share. We started high school off with a bang and if I'm being honest, I'm surprised most you made it this far.

Maddie:
That's not supposed to be there either.

Aden:
Sorry, everyone. I didn't know this was happening today. Here we go. On the note of gratitudes, this speech is dedicated to the students behind me and the people that have supported them along the way.

Jokes aside, I would like to take a moment to thank my family, my parents in particular. Mom, you are the definition of a lifelong learner. You've inspired me to take on new challenges and to do so without hesitation. You're proof that it is never too late to change career paths or do what you love even while supporting a family. I love you. Dad, thank you for believing in me. You pushed me to be a better person and without you, I would not have the confidence to stand up here today. My dad was especially excited to hear that I had the honor of delivering this speech. Immediately he asked me what my ideas were, what I would mention, what the underlying themes might be, et cetera. Additionally, he reminded me how important it was to get started as soon as possible. To conclude a 5, 6 or 16 year experience is no small feat. To attempt to do so is an honor that requires thought and time. My dad wanted me to be prepared.

Maddie:
It was easy to assume that preparing for this speech was much like preparing for any other assignment. First, we had to get our bearings, create an outline, and then execute a draft. Anyone graduating high school has been there, whether or not we chose to follow those exact steps. Other assignments might require a more study-based approach. Memorization, learning key terms, remembering a concept from as far back as last year. As I am sure every student on this stage can assure you, and the few that I see out there too, these steps have become a way of life. And some of us are not always as prepared as we would like to be.

Aden:
Whoops. We're in the midst of preparing for one of the biggest assignments of our lives. College, adulthood, the real world. How can one be ready for something like that?

There's no outline. No material to study. And trust me, nothing we learned last year will help. We can have as many health classes and CPR classes as possible, but we are well aware that limitless possibilities lie ahead. Instead, maybe we should take an approach we've never taken before. One we were not necessarily encouraged to take at Packer. Mix up your papers, lose your place, have fun in even the most intense moments.

Maddie:
That being said, Aden and I weren't too sure what we should center our speech around. For some background, on September 1st, Aden and I were born. Yes, we were born on the same day. Thirteen or 14 years later, we took our first steps into Packer as Freshmen. We share no stories with the majority of our class about their strange, very strange middle school experiences, but what we do share is a collective love for Deans. We love them so much, we've had three.

I'm not sure if anyone in the class of 2022 discovered that they were braver than they believed, stronger than they seemed or smarter than they thought they were. But we sure did discover that there was a way to bring up Drake in every conversation if we really wanted to. Now, many of us have had the privilege of being taught by our current Dean, Mrs. Dzegar. Having taken her persuasive writing and rhetoric course last year during the pandemic, I was more than thrilled to see how many current Seniors would have the opportunity this year to take that class in person. The unit that draws in many onlookers is the Ted talk unit. This unit is a sacred space for the participants of the class to share anything that holds any value to them at all in front of an audience.

After our Ted talk, Mrs. Dzegar will give you feedback about your performance and if you're lucky, she'll leave you with something much more valuable than how to improve your public speaking. After I presented my own Ted talk, Mrs. Dzegar offered me this valuable note. She said, "Maddie, you are powerful and great, and do not ever need to pretend that you don't know that you're great. You do not ever need to hide your greatness. Don't fake humble. From one powerful woman to another." The value of this comment did not truly sink in until I lost my dad last November. Most of you did not know my dad, but he was my biggest supporter. He believed in me more than I may ever believe in myself, and I was always celebrated by him. Something I never truly appreciated when he was alive. He never let me forget that I was powerful and great. And that is something I want to make sure I acknowledge about the class of 2022 today.

Class of 2022. Please listen to me closely, when I say we are a life force. We are an ever-changing ball of light and energy that has consistently demonstrated our resilience and strength over the last four years. We have so many things to be proud of. So many accomplishments to be celebrated. And so many moments of joy to be highlighted.

Aden:
The truth is we could stand here for hours listing off everyone's accomplishments over the years.

Maddie:
Aden, you're not getting one, but don't fall asleep on us.

Aden:
Such as the most intelligent science research members.

Maddie:
Especially our women in STEM.

Aden:
And their dedication to the program. Or the talented soccer team, who won championships both their freshman and senior years. We could spend this time reminiscing about the great performances where we begged for Roman Zelman to enter the spotlight, and sat in awe of the elegant choreography of Pippa, Natalie, Catarina, Mary Reeds, Olivia, and Celia. Oh Celia.

Maddie:
We had the honor of hearing and reading senior speeches from Sadie, Taspia, and Stella. I am proud of each of you for sharing your stories. We will go down as the grade that began to fix issues of race, diversity and equity at Packer through the Change Committee. A group of dedicated individuals who proved that we could turn social media activism and Zoom meetings into progress. Powerful leaders of change makers were born out of this class. And it's not only Change Committee where we see leaders in our community. Aden, tell them where we would be without Lucy Anderson and Dana Hillebrecht this year.

Aden:
Prom would've sucked, that's for sure. We've had dozens of people in this class lead lessons, fundraisers and sports events in support of our community. Speaking of sports events, is Alex Bourtin allowed to be here today? It's the simple things like his enthusiasm that make our class special. Like sometimes all a firm pat on the back from Joe French, who shared the excitement of seeing Cole McBeth's college acceptance letters in the student center.

Maddie:
Amazing job, Cole.

Aden:
These are only a few of the things that come to mind when we think of the magic within our class. The people behind me are an incredible group of individuals. To the families that join us today, both in person and streaming that magic would not be possible without you.

Maddie:
Two years ago, when I had told my amazing advisor Farah (Hi, Farah) that I wanted to be the commencement speaker. I could have only imagined it with my dad sitting here today with all of you. My dad was my magic. He was my strength, my boldness, my resilience, my bravery. And I felt like I had lost a bit of that when I lost him.

But then I look in front of me and I look at all of you. I don't recognize all of your faces, but I know they are more than familiar to each of the people sitting behind me. It takes a village to raise a child. And I am looking at one of the most amazing villages I've ever seen. To everyone sitting behind me. I want you to take a good look at this audience. These are parents and families, aside from your own, who have watched you grow and will have a lasting impact on your life. Well, parents like Nic and Elisabetta Bourtin have taken the role of second parents for many students. Each of us has had some connection with more than one family in this audience. Families you have had dinners with, had sleepovers at their houses, gone on vacations with, celebrated birthdays with, and shared many moments of joy.

Today, I would like to thank my honorary families for all they have done for me. So to the Elsessers, Hintons, the Reiss', the Rosas, the Farrs, the Willifords and the Kims. Thank you. The love I have received from all of you and your children is irreplaceable. And above all the biggest thank you I reserve for my lifeline, my mom. I love you with everything in me. Where would we be without everyone sitting in front of us today?

Aden:
To all of the parents and families on behalf of the class of 2022, we want to say, thank you. You are the heartbeat of this class. In some way, each of you is responsible for who stands on this stage, what they have done and where they will go. We are grateful for you. And now to send off our peers, we want to say this...

Maddie:
Whether or not you feel ready to take on the next chapter of life, know that you have already accomplished so much by being here today.

Aden:
You are surrounded by people, both named and unnamed, that have, and will continue to, achieve greatness.

Maddie:
Fellow students who show us that anything is possible.

Aden:
Parents, guardians, and families that will push you to your best and celebrate you even at your worst.

Maddie:
Class of 2022, know that you are ready. Ready for college, where you will take on new challenges, seek new heights, accomplish new feats, and even have a new Dean, and we all know it's time for the next one.

Aden:
You may mess up, lose your page, place, or be unprepared...

Maddie:
But there is no outline for life, and we look forward to seeing how you continue to live it. Now you can say it.

Aden:
I'm grateful that we got to have yet another day together. Now let's throw those caps in the air and get out of here.
 

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