Trumbull High School Class of 1998
June 8, 1998
Mr. Wilson, Dr. Merritt, Mr. McCarthy, Distinguished Guests, Family and Friends, Faculty, My Fellow Graduates:
In these last couple of days, and especially today as I look across this field, so many memories have come flooding back.
I like you, am beginning to realize how quickly 17 years of our lives went by.
I can remember my first day of kindergarten with some of you, our middle school years, and especially 4 great years at
Trumbull High School. But today we leave the cradle of security; our own individuals, ready for bright futures and the
dawning of the 21st Century. As you leave on your journey today, there are only a few things that I wish to convey to you,
as your Class President.
In the past, Senior Class Presidents before me have often cited famous philosophers, elder statesmen, revolutionaries,
former presidents, and even professional singers as a way of trying to relay a message to their fellow graduates. Today,
I too will cite someone in an attempt to relay a message, but most of you know this person. This man is Trumbull High School
Athletic Director, and outgoing Football Coach, Jerry McDougall.
Almost every day of the football season, Coach McDougall would remind us of Trumbull PADS. Ironically, Coach McDougall
wasn't talking about the game of football. He wasn't referring to a helmet or protective gear. Trumbull PADS meant more:
PRIDE, ATTITUDE, DESIRE, and SACRIFICE. Those 4 words were not just a football credo, but words we could take with us through
a lifetime. That is something that I want you to take, and keep in your mind, as you go through the ups and downs of life.
No matter how complicated any task might be, if you have PRIDE with anything that you do, things have a way of working out,
and you will succeed.
You must have a positive ATTITUDE with everything you do. It was Mary Kay Ash who once said, "If you think you can,
you can. And if you think you can't, you're probably right."
If you have the DESIRE to achieve a certain goal in life, that desire, that wanting for success, is the difference between
dreaming of it, and actually achieving it. Desire will lead to perseverance.
You know, it's easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you're a winner. However a true indicator of desire
and perseverance is having faith and discipline when you're not number one.
Always be prepared to make SACRIFICES as you travel though life. My grandfather has often told me that living life is taking
chances. If any of us sit on the sidelines unwilling to suit up and take to the field in the game of life, then the game will
run right past us. At one point in your life, whether you are 17 years old or 70 years old, sacrifice will present itself to
you. Your willingness to accept certain sacrifices, by greeting them with maturity and dignity will make you a stronger person
and help to mold your character.
Through our history, there have been countless alumni of the School of Hard Knocks. But when you're hit hard with something
in life and you don't feel like getting up, that is when you must get up.
If you're dealt with a loss, a defeat, or a setback, and you're content with that, then that is when you know you've lost.
A good friend of mine, who happens to be here today, once told me that "you don't fail when you lose, you fail when you don't
try." If you're dealt with that type of adversity my fellow graduates, and you feel like trying again and fighting the good
fight, that is when your courage is indestructible and you are looked to by others as an example of strength.
The simple fact is that a person's character, courage, and self respect have nothing to do with the approval of others, who after
all are deceived easy enough. It has nothing to do with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O'Hara is "something
people with courage can do without." These components to a person's existence can not be inherited. One builds it daily by the
way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action.
Last July, I had the opportunity along with two of our fellow graduates, Dan Ponzio and Erika Hammers, to serve as an intern
in Washington. While interning in Washington, the three of us had the opportunity of having a 30 minute visit with former Senate
Majority Leader and 1996 Presidential Nominee, Bob Dole. During our 30 minute visit, we asked the Senator many questions. One of
which, was how he felt about losing the 1996 Presidential Election. He said to us and I quote: "I would have liked to have
become President, but you have to play the hand that's dealt to you. If you're sitting with a pair of deuces and the man across
from you has a straight flush, you must take it in stride and always move on."
In the final analysis, you can't always be number one. With every winner, there is a loser. But if you have PRIDE, a positive
ATTITUDE, the DESIRE to be successful, and a SACRIFICE to achieve a dream, win or lose, you will always walk away the better person.
We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give. Make it a priority my fellow graduates to give in life.
Whether it be giving blood, giving a donation, volunteering your services, or giving of yourself to human kind, your life will
truly be fulfilled and surpass any bounds you could have ever possibly imagined. It is with that thought that I hope all of you
will have the heart to concede, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave this world a little
better off, for you having been here.
There is no doubt in my mind that the people before me, the Trumbull High School Class of 1998, will have its own page in the book
on the history of mankind. As I look at each of you, it is with the knowledge that we, as a class, have done great things together.
But for all of us, the journey is far from over...the journey is just beginning.
As I look across this field I see, doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, future television stars, professional athletes.
Who knows, maybe one of us will find the cure to AIDS one day.
Maybe, somebody sitting here today is a future recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
And maybe, just maybe, one day my friends, we'll have our 30th high school reunion at the White House!
May God bless all of you, and thank you!