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WESTTOWN — If there is one thing West Chester Rustin’s 2015 graduates took away from their commencement Tuesday, it was to expect failure.
But the key is to never give in to it.
“We aren’t fictional characters and while our traits may mirror some of those like Harry (Potter) has, most fictional characters never experience the one thing every single person has or will experience — failure,” said Akweley Okine, the salutatorian. “While failing stings in the moment, it shows you exactly what you need to change in order to be successful.”
Superintendent Jim Scanlon told the seniors in the future years, he hopes they will find ways to make the world a better place.
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He also told them while the world continues to change at a rapid pace, expect some bumps in the road.
“Along the way, we all stumble,” Scanlon said. “We all face hard times at some point or another. The people who often inspire us most are those who face adversity with great optimism and determination and find ways to persevere.”
Principal Michael Marano, while trying to think of a perfect speech for the ceremony, remembered some of his favorite quotes from movies, including “Rocky Balboa.”
“We’ll never stop being challenged to overcome obstacles in life,” he said. “I think of another one of my favorite movie lines from years past — ‘Nothing hits harder than life. But it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’”
Many students may have already taken those tough punches, but as Okine pointed out, they continued to push through.
“We have made it to this point despite any failures we may have encountered,” she said. “I hope in the future we don’t fear failure, but rather embrace it.”
But even with a chance of failure or stumbles along the way, Marano wished the Class of 2015 to never put their talents aside.
“I keep coming back to one line that I first heard in a movie when I was about your age,” he said. “‘The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.’ What first sounded like a movie cliche took on meaning for me as I ventured out into life and embarked in a career in education.
“Each of you has special talents and gifts. My message to you is do not waste them. Use them to find your way, to make a difference in the world the way you have made a difference here at Rustin. Make no mistake — you have made a difference here.”
The principal left his students, the eighth graduating class from Rustin, with a token of advice which everyone can always use.
“Know you are never alone in life unless you really want to be,” Marano said. “People who truly love you and support you, as we all do, will always do so. Treasure those relationships and they will get you through even the darkest times in your life.”