HURON — As they move on to the next chapter in their lives, young men and women saying goodbye to their high school years have the power to make a difference in the world, the guest speaker at Sunday’s commencement ceremony said.
“From now on, I want you to ask yourself this question: what do you want to change about the world?” Lacey Vanden Berge said.
If they see a problem, or are passionate about something “that really sets you on fire,” they should make it their job to go out and find a solution, she said.
“There are signs all around you, pointing you toward your passion,” Vanden Berge said. “You just need to keep your eyes open.”
It was 10 years ago that she earned her own high school diploma. The Corsica native went on to South Dakota State University and, for the past three years, has been a counselor at Huron High School.
She encouraged the 131 graduating seniors to cling to things they care about — and invest their entire being in them — and then take action.
“You have a choice,” Vanden Berge said. “You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life.
“There is something in you that this world needs, whether it’s your smile, your sense of humor or your intelligence or your work ethic,” she said. “Go make the world better because of it.”
Delivering the senior class message, president Shannon Katz urged her classmates to always put forth a 110 percent effort and to stay positive.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something,” she said. “We control our own attitude and having a good attitude is half the battle.”
Katz encouraged them to “take the negative and make it positive. And fellow graduates, as we sit here today, the game is not over.
“We have a lot to accomplish individually,” she said.
In the second part of her challenge, she reminded them to make good choices, to remember that they knew right from wrong when they graduated from DARE in the fourth grade.
“Treat others how you want to be treated,” Katz said.
She said it may be that it takes them years, or their entire life, to accomplish all of their goals. “You will see your dreams come to fruition, you will leave your mark, your legacy on the world,” she said.
Vanden Berge told the graduates there will come a time when they fail at something.
“Luckily there is an immense amount of potential in failure,” she said.
Life is full of ups and downs and there are times when it makes no sense, she said.
“As odd as it may sound, please fail,” Vanden Berge said. “Be brave enough to listen to your own heart and try something new you’ve never done before, and be really, really bad at it.
“Because this is the only way we learn what we like, what we’re good at, and how we’ll impact the world,” she said.
“Be kind. Always be kind,” she said. “Happiness and kindness go hand in hand. They cannot be separated.”
As they celebrated their success during the rest of the day, Vanden Berge asked them to remember to thank family and friends who have supported them. They are the people who cared, sacrificed and motivated them.
“Be brave, work hard and amazing things will happen,” she said.