Good evening, faculty, guests, families, and members of the class of 2012; our journey is not over, rather it is just beginning. As we reminisce over the past four years we will realize that our lives have been influenced by everything we have experienced in high school. We have taken many classes throughout our time at LHS and if you ask any teacher they will say that their class is the most important. But, we ask “What do these classes really have to do with life after high school?” and “how will they help us in the real world?”
Tonight I would like to share with you an example of a class that clearly has much to do with life after high school. All of us took four years of English and many of us probably disliked the semester we had it because it meant writing papers and late nights reading stories written hundreds of years ago. How could that have any connection to life during and after high school?
Like many other high schools, Ledyard teaches Shakespeare two out of the four years we take English. Macbeth, a play about the Macbeths’ desire to break the Chain of Being and become the rulers of Scotland, is one of the most read Shakespeare play by high school students. Not only is it the shortest play, but it is also the most bloody. We have read Romeo and Juliet studying the feud between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s while simultaneously observing the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet. In addition, we studied the struggles of a young man as he tries to unveil his father’s murderer, in Hamlet.
At a first glance, these don’t really seem that important and they don’t sound like they connect to teenagers, but they do. Macbeth may have a lot of battling for this kingdom, but it also shows a young’s prince’s challenge to find his spot in society; we learn not to doubt where we are in the world. In Romeo and Juliet we see two teenagers fall hopelessly in love with one another, but cannot achieve their love because of their families and society; as students we know that it ridiculous how Romeo and Juliet died, but we learn how unpretty love can be because it causes violence and death, and even though love is not simple it is the most powerful emotion. Much like in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet describes the importance of familial ties and gives students warnings of deceit. Not only has this but it demonstrates to students how determination can help accomplish anything.
These three plays connect in some way to us right now, not necessarily literally, but their meanings do. They will always be relevant to teenagers as they travel through high school and early adulthood, and therefore they are timeless. These plays will only influence our futures if we take what we learn from them and imply them in our future. In Hamlet Shakespeare writes that “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” All of us may have some conception of who we are right now, but that will not be us in ten years. These past four years we have read how characters in books and plays grow up, and now it is our turn; we need to take what we learned through high school and apply it to the future.
To answer the earlier question, our classes we take in high school have everything to do with our futures. They help influence what classes we take in college, or what jobs we take. All we have to do is take what we’ve learned and use it to our advantage. At the time when Shakespeare wrote his plays he had to please certain groups of people, such as the monarchy, but while doing this he was still able to write timeless pieces that still exemplified his beliefs. So, take a lesson from Shakespeare: it’s our time to grow up and make our own lives, but we need to learn from the past and persevere for success in the future.
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