Johnna’s Commencement Address

This is a terrible video, I will admit. Fuzzy, shaky and hard to hear due to the nearby conversation and the clomping of feet up and down the aluminum bleachers. Libby said she is going to make a better one, but she’s a busy girl, so who knows when that might happen. But here is the text, in case you can’t understand it.

A Dangerous Business
Johnna Joy Murch
            A wise hobbit named Bilbo Baggins once said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
            Class of 2012, today we are stepping outside of our door and into the road.  For the last four years, we have been students here at Castro Valley High School, and much of our lives has been planned for us.  Once we walk out of this stadium tonight, it will be up to us to do that for ourselves.  That’s great, right?  It’s something we have wanted all along – FREEDOM!  But it’s scary also.  We have so many choices to make.  We will stand in the road and we will have to decide whether we should turn to the right, or to the left.  Shall we go to college?  Which college?  What classes should we take?  Shall we follow our hearts or our heads, and regardless of which we choose, will there be anything there for us when we are done?  If we go to college, study hard, get a degree, will we be able to find a job, and if we do, will it pay enough for us to have a good life? We have all experienced, or at least observed, the economic uncertainty that awaits us in the world, and this can’t help but deepen the anxiety so many of us feel as we face the future and the many decisions which can weigh so heavily on us under the best of circumstances.
            Beyond decisions about career, we wonder as well, will we be happy?  The last four years have been a time of learning about ourselves and about life.  We’ve been happy, and we’ve been sad. We’ve laughed and cried. We’ve loved, and we’ve lost those we love. We have overcome challenges, and occasionally the challenges have overcome us.
            I don’t know about you, but as much as I have hated high school, I have also absolutely loved it.  In my time at Castro Valley High School, I have been lucky enough to have found a place where I felt I belonged.  For me, it was in the theater and performing arts.  I love theater.  Others here have found their place in sports, cheerleading, in leadership, journalism, in visual arts, music, or the challenges of the classroom.  Some have found it simply in a particular corner of the courtyard, because in the end the thing that has made each and every one of these places homes to our hearts is the people we have found there, our families of choice. 
            There are so many teachers and staff members here who have influenced and inspired each of us in amazing ways.  I know we have sometimes tried their patience as well, and we certainly can’t leave without thanking them for that!
            But the bottom line of what has made high school so special to me, and probably to most of you, has been my friends, such a huge and diverse group of you, as I have made my way through these four years.  You have held my hands and have held my heart.  When I felt like I wanted to die, you made me laugh and embrace life and I cannot tell you how much I love you for that.  And I will always love you, even though, after today, so many of us will be parting, going our different ways.  We will go on to our new lives, and I know we will find new friends, who will probably be just as wonderful.  But these friends, who are here now today, are the ones who first helped me learn who I am and who I am not, and you will always be at the center of my being.  My heart breaks as I leave here tonight, but I have learned from my friends that broken hearts can be survived, and having survived, you are made stronger.
            As we face the future, I think this is important.  The economic and political situations may be uncertain, and we may step out onto the road with a sense of fear.  But it is by facing our fears that we become courageous.  By starting our adult lives in this atmosphere of uncertainty, our generation has the opportunity to become some pretty exceptional people.
            Finally, there are two other things I’d ask you to remember as you step out of the door and into the road.  I know some of you are very ambitious and eager to succeed in life.  And others of you are artists.  But let’s learn from one another.  If you an ambitious go-getter, don’t forget to be creative.  Sing, dance, draw, paint, love.  And if you are an artist, be an ambitious artist.  Don’t hide your light.  Set out to do your best and to succeed in your art.  For those of you who have no idea what you want to do, just find something you love, and do it.
            And the other thing is to remember to just keep moving down that road.  You don’t have to be able to see the end of it, or even around the corner.  You just have to take it one step at a time, and believe that you have a purpose, a destination, and if you just keep moving, you WILL one day reach it.

3 thoughts on “Johnna’s Commencement Address

Add yours

  1. Congratulations to Johnna! Her speech was wonderful. It certainly seems that excellent writing runs in the family! 😉 -Julia


  2. Sharon,You have raised a beautiful, intelligent and well spoken daughter. I am embarressed to admit she did a better job as a teen writting her speach than I would have at 40!! Congrats,Alie


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