Editorial: Graduation lacks wisdom from an alum

Editorial Staff

During a graduation ceremony, seniors are supposed to be both proud of their past successes in high school and, more importantly, excited and prepared for the uncertainty of the future.

While we are scheduled to have student speakers at this year’s graduation, the lack of an adult commencement speaker, for the first time in recent memory at Redwood, disregards the latter sentiment.


For the past few years, Tam and Drake’s graduations have featured student speakers instead of an alumni address, and this year Redwood will join them. And on the surface it may seem like a sensible switch.

Who wants to receive advice from an unknown adult who students have never met? Who wants to be lectured by someone who knows nothing about what the student body has been through?

But this view is too shortsighted. All too often seniors look at graduation as a time to reminisce and reflect on our high school careers. But we forget that graduation should be an event that not only celebrates the past, but looks toward the future.

As insightful and poignant as student speakers may be, we aren’t yet capable of providing the perspective that teenagers so desperately need.

And there’s no way we can be expected to. We, as teenagers, may be able to reflect on high school, but we cannot yet understand the effect it has had on us. It will take time and new experiences for us to truly be able to take a step back and evaluate our time at Redwood.

Adults, on the other hand, have had that time, have had those experiences – and with that comes a perspective that only someone who has moved beyond high school can provide. They don’t only offer stories of their own lives, or even advice for the future, but they alert us to possibilities we haven’t yet considered and instill in us a passion we haven’t yet discovered.

After finishing months of senioritis and looking forward to months of summer vacation, graduates need to regain a sense of motivation and perseverance before they begin the next stages of their lives.

We know that good commencement speakers, especially alumni, are hard to find. But we also know that the insight adult speakers bring to graduation is invaluable and worth the added effort and time.

The class of 2008 lucked out by having Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, deliver a commencement address. He was the ideal speaker – he discussed both his successes and failures, the importance of perseverance, and the struggles of a life in public service.

We may have heard all this before, but it sounds a whole lot better coming from someone whose actions many graduates respect, admire, and perhaps hope to emulate.

We are a society that praises the accomplishments of our youth, and rightly so. But to sacrifice the potential wisdom of an adult for less valuable, albeit possibly more enjoyable, student speakers is a grave mistake and one that our student government should not repeat in years to come.