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WHS graduation speech: Never stop learning

Editor's note: The three student speeches delivered at the WHS commencement will be published on this page over the course of three Saturdays. This is the second speech.

Congratulations on making it to graduation day, Class of 2013! Some of us were hit pretty hard with senioritis, and it seemed like we would never make it to this day.

Graduation has been on my mind since I started kindergarten. Unfortunately, I have some bad news. You think you're graduating from school and you're leaving behind high school forever, but you're wrong. Your days of learning are just beginning, and I welcome you to the school of life and adulthood.

What will it be like to finally step out on our own and enjoy the richness of classes like money management, and career paths and family decisions? The reality is different for all of us. Just like our grades were different and each and every one of our strengths were unique. In the school of life there are three basic principles needed in order to pass.

1. Finding a purpose to live and to do something

2. Remembering that perfection is not always attainable.

3. But most importantly, to never stop learning.

Up to this point, you were not the only one motivating yourself. Whether it was your parents, your siblings, or a higher calling, like the desire to be successful and prove everyone around you wrong. Now, as an adult and a high school graduate, the tables start to turn, and you become your own coach, your own motivator. Those other factors will still be there, but the training wheels come off. College and jobs require your own personal resolve to work, think and enjoy your labor. Without a purpose or an underlying wave, you won't be able to surf the ocean that life has to offer or the endless possibilities included.

In high school, everyone struggles with the drive to be perfect or to reach unrealistic standards. Whether it was in schoolwork, sports, music, or another extracurricular activity, the drive to be the best was not always healthy. This attempt at perfection stressed us out. Our dreams seemed impossible, and they were constantly shot down by reality.

High school was a time for exploring our talents, but after today, the search for our own identities will continue. The school of life gives us many opportunities to master what we are most passionate about, which means that in some areas we are prone to make mistakes and fail. Which is why it is important to remember the last basic rule: Never stop learning.

In reality you never stop learning. The school of life doesn't stop for snow days, or holidays, or even senior skip day. It goes on and teaches you whether you are eager to learn or not. Life is a string of lessons of which you must make meaning. You decide what you are going to do with the lessons that life has taught you. The little Facebook posts that flood your wall with things like, "Everything happens for a reason," or "You only live once," or "Learn to appreciate those around you because they might not be there tomorrow," are only tidbits of life lessons that you will have to experience for yourself.

In the end, we are all moving into a new semester, a new period in our school of life. The teachers will not be Mr. Doyscher, Mrs. Bents, or Mr. Shaughnessy, but instead they will be Mr. Discipline, Mrs. Motivation and Mr. Reality.

We have survived high school and are finally walking across the stage toward a new horizon filled with dreams, passions and our destiny. And as we leave the crayons and childish ways behind, we step into our roles as students in the school of life.

Jennifer Mayorga plans to attend Northwestern College in St. Paul in the fall. She is exploring several major options, including business, public relations, education and political science.