Lea Kim

Speakers at the Solon High School commencement were selected after auditioning. Here are the thoughts shared with classmates.

When Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon, it was “one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.”

Thus, in 1969, the culmination of years of research led to one of the greatest feats of human kind.

While I don’t think any one of us have stepped foot on the moon, our accomplishments shouldn’t be discredited.

It has been 50 years since dreams became reality. Now in 2019, the culmination of years of education will lead to the same. Here on this stage, are my Solon High School peers who will change the world, leading the future generation to change dreams to realities.

Of course, I can’t say I know the future. I mean, I wear glasses, clearly I don’t have 20/20 vision.

But my visual challenges do not blur the hopes that I have for my talented peers on this stage.

We’ve reached levels of education our ancestors could only have dreamed of achieving, attending the No. 1 school district in the nation. Our Speech and Debate, Science Olympiad, and Academic Challenge teams, alongside countless other extracurriculars, win on national stages. Our athletic teams bring us together to rally behind strong results. Our artists and musicians dazzle on the stage, moving us with their powerful songs and stories.

But behind the numbers, apart from the test scores, the percentages, and rankings, what makes Solon rise to the top is that behind me on this stage are the most passionate kids of this generation.

In the face of change, it is easy to credit the leader who strived for an enriched experience in life. However, it is critical to realize that one’s passion is most readily ignited by the flames of collaboration.

Many high schools around the nation struggle with toxic levels of competition, stopping collaboration and promoting high levels of stress. While Solon remains competitive, I know I can reach out to anyone, in any class, and collaborate. This year, both students and staff talked a lot about the idea of “we before me.” It’s only now that I recognize how important my peers have been – when we’re all leaving each other.

We’re the generation of Parkland, Tamir Rice, and countless tragedies. We’ve been written off as the “social-media” generation, but that’s exactly where our strength lies. With the advent of technology, our voices are more important than ever. We can walk out, we can protest and we can reform. What we can’t do is remain silent. We can be the world-changers of tomorrow. We can speak out against injustice. We are the future.

Throughout these past four years, I’ve played Pomp and Circumstance over hundreds of times, seen countless upperclassmen graduate, and thousands of interesting, cute and somewhat questionable baby photos.

It is the season of graduation, the season of goodbyes and the season of farewells. Although I am bittersweet that we’re leaving peers behind, I am hopeful to know that we will be joining a new set of peers and expand our families.

We’ll shoot for the moon, but we won’t just be among the stars. We’ll be among the Comets, past, present and future.

We haven’t reached Neil Armstrong’s levels of achievement, but we all have the potential. So as we wrap up our high school careers, let’s take another step, another leap...and begin to find our stride.

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