Monroeville superintendent Ralph Moore used famous boxer Mike Tyson’s line in his speech to the 61 Monroeville High School graduates Sunday afternoon.
He said that quote applies to life.
“You see graduates, you don’t need to be a boxer to get punched in the face,” Moore said, adding that a strike like that could come in the form of an illness, job loss, a break up “or perceived failure in the pursuit of success.”
“When the punches come — as they inevitably will — so do the opportunities for you to get up off the mat, rise back up, fight on and reveal the champion that dwells within each of you. ... Each of you have within you what it takes to be a champion in the biggest game of all — life. Graduates, how quickly will you get back up when you get knocked down? Only you can define you in those moments.”
Moore encouraged the students to try their best, but to never give up — a theme also shared by principal award-winner Ben Schafer. He also spoke to his fellow alumni about working hard and building their own legacy.
Schafer said though it might be unusual for teenagers to think about the impression and mark they leave behind, it’s well worth considering. A legacy isn’t born overnight, but comprises everything the students have done and will do from here on out, he said.
“Start thinking about how you want to be remembered — whether it’s right now, or 50 years in the future,” he said. “Lead a fulfilling life, one that you, and the people around you, could be proud of. So go, live your life. Leave your legacy. Hopefully at any point in your life you can turn around, look at what you’ve done and smile, knowing you did what you could to leave the world a better place.”
Chloe Crawford gave her fellow graduates a vocational address, encouraging them “take the chance.”
“This is one step toward making yourself the person you want to be,” she said.
Crawford told the students that most success requires a degree of risk and chance taking, which can only be accomplished when you “make bold steps toward our future.”
Class president Isabel Smith agreed, relating a reflection on Robert Frost’s famous poem, “A Road Not Taken.” She said the graduates face an especially large number of roads, and they may not know which ones to take — or may be too afraid. In those moments, “take the road made for you,” she said, even if it’s difficult.
Smith encouraged the students not to choose a path simply because it’s what someone else wanted them to choose. The path “made for you” will bring more happiness and success because it was something personally desired, she said.
“Our future depends on the roads we choose,” she said. “Life may have moments of regret, wishing you had taken an easier route or had someone to walk that road with you. But looking back, after you have finally reached your long-awaited destination, you too will be thankful for the road not taken.”
Moore ended his speech with an inspiring and encouraging message for the new graduates: No matter what they choose to do, they should not give up, knowing they “will always have a home” at Monroeville schools.
“Class of 2019, today is your day. Be a champion. Make yourself and those you love proud. Live inspired and inspiring lives,” he said. “And remember, you will always be an Eagle.”
Number of graduates: 61
Number entering the armed forces: One
Number of students who dual graduated (with a high school diploma and an associates degree): Two
Number of EHOVE graduates: 20
Number of students who earned college credit: 32
Class motto: “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day, you’ll look back and realize they were the big ones.” — Pooh Bear
Class flower: Sunflower
Class colors: Black and gold