Graduation speaker offers advice for Class of 2022

On behalf of the Class of 2022, we’d like to thank Mother Nature, who somehow managed to let it rain during every single Homecoming and prom, but she didn’t let the rain take today, our graduation day. So, thank you Mother Nature. It’s a beautiful day outside! But yet here we are, at our beautiful indoor ceremony!

We would also like to say thank you to the administration, faculty, staff, our friends and family, and especially each other, the Class of 2022 ­— we made it!

The past four years flew by faster than freshmen running through the halls during the passing period. Within our high school career, we lived through a Polar Vortex, a pandemic, Mr. Palmquist growing a ponytail. The football team became back-to-back conference champions, the boys soccer team finally won back the LT Silver Brick. We earned five different IHSA state titles in speech, tennis and golf. Not to mention a JETS state title and “Solstice” being the only high school magazine in Illinois to earn the Scholastic Gold Crown award. We’ve accomplished so much in just a blink of an eye.

It’s easy to forget that freshman year, we were at risk of losing it all. Football, poms, countless clubs, even bass fishing. Voting no to the referendum threatened every inch, every little corner of our world. So we fought back with Vote Yes stickers and yard signs, and look at where we are now. We bask in the glory of the referendum: with our new rolly chairs, bright blue walls and phenomenal new pool without asbestos! We even have a brand new student commons where, as Principal Walsh put it, students are free to hang out, study, and “commingle” (Principal Walsh, I hope you know that after that announcement, I’ve been calling it the commingling center ever since.)

Now, this is only the beginning. Over the next couple of years, incoming classes will inherit the fruit of our “vote yes” labor.

We can accomplish so much with a referendum, so now that we’re at the end of our Red Devil experience, I propose a new referendum for the class of 2022. But this time I say we “Vote No.”

1. Vote no to ghosting. As we move on from high school, it’ll be tempting to unfollow a lot of people on Instagram. To unadd the girl from your junior year physics class, to cut ties and leave it all behind. I’m not saying that you have to stay besties for the resties with everyone, but come on. Don’t cut people off just yet. After all, we still come back home every summer. Vote no. Don’t ghost.

2. Vote no to forgetting. The past four years have been eventful to say the least. Like the time school was canceled because there was an explosion on the soccer field. Walking into 5 a.m. swim practice and seeing a fire to my left is an unforgettable flashbulb memory that burns brighter in my brain than our neon green lanyards.

I also don’t think we want to forget M&P productions, who taught us how to manage our mental health with a schoolwide dance off!!

And, I don’t think it’s possible to forget the mood meter that is forever ingrained in our minds (I’m in the top right yellow quadrant, feeling pretty energized right now).

It’s hard to forget all of the good that’s come from Central, like the money raised for Toula, our beloved lunch lady that always provides for us with a smile on her face.

And it’s hard to forget how the school looks out for us. Like when they gave the entire student body Crumbl cookies — or extra days off for Thanksgiving.

The school also gave us mental health days! Which were a true help when life got overwhelming. Juggling school, sports, silly drama and Snapchat, we forget that it’s OK to take a step back, and have a break every now and then.

Funny story actually: on one of my mental health days, I decided to go to the beach, and coincidentally I saw Kylie from psych, Megan and Ava from APES, Sophie from Spanish!! It was so strange how the entire senior class somehow took the same day off to work on our mental health. Tanning on Oak Street beach while reflecting on our social emotional-learning! Those are the days we’ll always remember. So vote no, don’t forget.

3. I say vote no to saying goodbye. We’re the last generation of square dancers, who dosey doed at 7 a.m., solely for bragging rights. The last class to eat lunch next to the radioactive blue pond and the last students go through a full year of high school without COVID. I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to bid adieu. To say goodbye to you guys, the Monopoly man, and the scented hallways during the rat dissections, shoutout to Mrs. Kim’s 10th period bio class.

We suffered through 90-minute block periods, mystery brown bagged lunches and trying to escape the senior lot everyday. We survived macroeconomic edpuzzles and painfully silent breakout rooms. We managed several geese attacks, confusing one-way hallways, and consumption of raw pasta at prom.

We fought long and hard to get here, so even though it’s all coming to an end, Vote no. We’re not saying goodbye. Maybe a “tiddle taddle,” a “see you later” instead.

There. That’s my three pronged proposal. My new referendum.

So as you summon up the courage to take a final exam for the first time in three years, remind yourself of how we were soldiers on the battlefield, trudging through the trenches of bipolar Chicago weather and intense Hinsdale academic rigor. Remember the grit, the determination that got us through high school. The square dancing, the endless rain, the prom pasta. Stay strong in the face of adversity because nothing good comes easy.

Class of 2022, please vote no to forgetting, goodbyes and ghosting. Go out, graduate, and, as always, #grit.

— Maurice Tobiano is a graduate of Hinsdale Central High School who will attend University of Michigan this fall. This is the address she gave to her classmates at the May 26 commencement ceremony.