STAMFORD, Conn. — When Andrew Young went to write a graduation speech for his fellow 2016 graduates at Stamford High School, he did what came naturally — he did some research.
“I went to a computer, and I Googled ‘how to write a graduation speech’,” he said. But he found a "lengthy seven-step guide with mostly ambiguous instructions on how to write a generic speech." It wouldn't do the job, he decided.
"But our school isn't generic," Young said. "It's great and it's different and it's challenging and although the word is often overused -- it's unique."
Young noted that the Black Knights stand out academically and on the field. The school counts Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy as a graduate. Former NBA Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy was a Stamford High graduate, too, he said.
But the Internet can only tell you so much, Young told those gathered in Boyle Stadium under sunny clear blue skies. “Google cannot predict the future,” Young said. “The future is up to us.”
One step students can take toward a better future is to wear sunscreen, Stamford Mayor David Martin advised the graduates. He said he didn’t wear sunscreen when he was younger and had to be treated for melanoma as a result.
But Martin said the ‘wear sunscreen’ message had a metaphorical meaning, too. And perhaps it was inspired by Mary Schmich's viral graduation message published in the Chicago Tribune in the '90s, which advised graduates to “wear sunscreen” as well.
“The message there is really: Take care of yourself; this is such a celebration," Martin said. "Take care of yourself so that you’re gong to be happy and healthy as long as God intended — don’t throw it away."
Martin also advised students to pay their parking tickets, or, in more metaphorical terms, to take responsibility for their lives. “Nobody else is going to take responsibility for it,” he said. “It’s up to you.”
Martin then asked those watching the graduates if they were proud of the graduating class. He was met with cheers and applause. “I call that a two thumbs up,” he said.