’Be the voice for change’

Staff Writer
The Examiner
A Blue Springs High School graduate waves to family in the crowd during Saturday's commencement ceremony.

Blue Springs High School

Commencement at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

Number of graduates: 543

Top 1 percent: Matthew Eisenreich, Seth Guest, Ryan Cheluget, Matthew Digert, Quinlan Evans, Alex Maliwat

Post-secondary: $7.1 million in renewable scholarship dollars

Class speakers: Francis Reynald Gatdula, Quinlan Evans

Gatdula said the pandemic has given graduates two important lessons to take to heart: Cherish moments and don’t take them for granted. He recalled the words of British writer G.K. Chesterton, “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

High school years might have seemed like a fiasco at times, Gatdula said, “but my goodness, what I would do to have those last few weeks back.”

Gatdula, who plans to study accounting at UMKC, said those in the class of 2020 can always have on their resumes what they have lived through already: post-9/11 tumult, the Great Recession and now the pandemic.

“Many of the worst events the world has to offer have already been catapulted at us,” he said. “We shouldn’t let a disappointing finale bog us down.”

“Yes, the class of 2020 was given the short end of the stick, but in the end, it’s what we do with it that counts.”

Evans said the graduates were robbed of many traditional endings, as well as the opportunity to say goodbye to many friends and teachers, but they received some lessons they might not have otherwise received, including resiliency and valuing other people.

“Quarantine made us all truly alone for the first time in our lives,” she said. “The post-COVID world will look much different than the world we left on March 13. Getting to be with people is a privilege we will never take for granted again.”

Also, the social unrest taught people the power of using their voices.

“We must use our voice not only for ourselves but also each other, to create a world where every voice is heard,” said Evans, who plans to major in political science at Reed College in Oregon. “I can’t wait to live and work in this new, better world.”

“We can live with ourselves, cherish others and be the voice for change.”

– Compiled by Mike Genet