Graduation speakers look back at unusual four years

Saanvi: To our entire Red Devil nation, thank you for joining us today to celebrate the Red Devil class of 2023.

Fatimah: Honestly, none of it would be possible without the help of our parents, teachers and the D86 staff. Not to mention Google Translate, Photomath, Sparknotes and, our very new addition, ChatGPT.

Saanvi: Are you forgetting something?

Fatimah: Oh right!

Both: The Devils Roast.

Saanvi: We’ve had a good four years.

Fatimah: Well, more like a good two years. You can’t forget when our two-week break turned into a worldwide lockdown.

Saanvi: Right. But despite the pandemic, we’ve learned how to be resilient.

Fatimah: And because of the pandemic we’ve learned how to show off our ceiling fans and how to watch “The Office” during math class. Also that there’s nothing that gets a teacher excited like a Zoom filter. Mr. Woods, we’re talking about your unicorn horn.

Saanvi: When we entered high school, we had a blueprint in mind of what our four years were going to look like. Obviously, this plan didn’t work, so we ripped it up that blueprint and threw it out.

Fatimah: Thankfully, through the support of our parents and teachers, we were able to work through the challenges of online learning. You could even say we began to draw a new blueprint.

Saanvi: With the tools we collected, we rebuilt a high school experience and we were able to jam four years worth of memories into one year. And while we were rebuilding traditions, Hinsdale Central was doing a lot of other kinds of building.

Fatimah: Yeah, walking through the language hallway with the possibility of being run over by a bulldozer was definitely a fun wake up at 7:30 a.m. But between the bulldozers and cranes, we got the new pool, new cafeteria, new bathrooms and of course, the beloved learning stairs. So, in the spirit of all of this construction, let’s reflect on what we, the class of 2023, have built together.

Saanvi: With our newly drawn blueprints in hand, we began bringing back school traditions, school pride and our Red Devil Grit. It began with a splash into senior year with our tailgate. It was Hawaiian themed but in rainy, cloudy, cold weather.

Both: Classic Chicago. ...

Saanvi: Pep rallies were more hype than ever with impressive performances from poms, the cheer team, colorguard, and Student Council’s creative new games. ...

Fatimah: If you want to talk about pep, let’s talk about how our basketball team filled the stands for every single game. Their tickets were more of a hot commodity than Taylor Swift’s concert tickets — believe me we would know. Their 23-game winning streak was, of course, in honor of the class of ’23. ...

Saanvi: We really took the school’s rebuilding and construction spirit to another level as we ... rebuilt what it means to be a Red Devil.

Fatimah: Now, we have witnessed all kinds of construction. But this whole time, we’ve been working on our own project.

Both: Building a bridge. This bridge represents a culmination of our past four years. It will carry us up and over many obstacles that await in our path. Our bridge also functions as a connection of the past, present and future.

Saanvi: Fellow 823s, we have to remember that bridges go two ways. We are all about to take steps in different directions, to different coasts, to different cities. But this doesn’t mean that we will say our goodbyes forever. Hinsdale Central will always be a home and as we gather new stories and new adventures, we can always come back across the bridge to our Red Devil family and tell them all about it.

Fatimah: With our foundation and newly built bridge, we are moments away from stepping into the future. The future may seem scary, but if you can navigate your way out of the senior lot, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.

Saanvi: We stand here on Dickinson remembering the Friday nights we spent in togas. Now we stand here on the same field, eager to be handed our diploma and the question is: How will we use it as yet another tool to build our limitless future?

Fatimah: So get to the drawing board and draft a blueprint for the future you dream of.

Saanvi: But no matter where we go and what we do, it will all have begun on the foundation we built here. Together.

Fatimah: Today and forever, it’s been great to be a Red Devil.

Saanvi: Congratulations, Class of 23!

— Saanvi Sethi and Fatimah Shaikh delivered the senior speech at the Hinsdale Central commencement ceremony June 1.