Nick Oldham speech-BHS class of 2012 | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Nick Oldham speech-BHS class of 2012

Posted: June 1, 2012 - 8:29pm
Steve Kohls Nick Oldham delivers his speech Thursday night at the Brainerd High School graduation.
Steve Kohls Nick Oldham delivers his speech Thursday night at the Brainerd High School graduation.

By Nick Oldham

This is a newspaper dated July 13, 1994 — the day that I was born. A couple of stories in it are about Kim Jong-il taking over North Korea after the death of his father, and DNA evidence proving that the blood on the glove was in fact, O.J. Simpson’s. “Mighty Ducks 2” and “The Lion King” were playing at the movie theater, Calvin and Hobbes was the first strip in the comics sections and you could buy a brand new, fully loaded Jeep for $19,900. On TV that night was “Home Improvement,” “Star Trek: Next Generation” and “Law and Order.” A gallon of gas cost $1.09 and the average movie ticket was $4.08.

Now here we are, 18 years later, at a pivotal time in our lives — between a past that has already been lived and a blank slate of a future. We all had different high school experiences. Some of us enjoyed it, some didn’t. For some, academics came easy and they flourished in AP classes, while others got in way over their heads and battled to get out of them. Still others may have struggled in math or science class, but had a flare for skateboarding, painting, music, or sports. Some may feel like they didn’t really excel in much, but the could comfort the sad, crack a joke like no other, or listen for hours to anyone about anything. But as we look around right now, we are all wearing the same cap and the same gown and we are Brainerd High School graduates.

The future will put our education to the test. For some of us, this means college and further education, and for all of us this means working and surviving. Shakespeare said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” Many of the future businesses and corporations will be headed by our generation, by our classmates and friends. We will invent new things — maybe new ways to help the environment or new energy drinks, like Gatortang. We will move on to be doctors, service men or women, construction workers and countless other things.

American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said something that ties the past, present and future together. He said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

I think that “what lies within us” answers the most commonly asked question in high school: “When are we ever going to use this?” We may never use the midpoint formula, or quote Romeo and Juliet, or play four-way volley ball, but I’ll tell you what we are going to use — we are going to use the knowledge that we made it. We accomplished something that was hard. We did things that we didn’t want to do. We memorized facts, we figured out problems, we accomplished things we didn’t think we could and we (hopefully) learned from our failures. This confidence is what lies within us.

I want to close with a quote from a popular movie: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it... You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! If you know what you’re worth, go and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits and not point fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t us. We’re better than that.”

We are Brainerd Warriors.

Congratulations class of 2012.

NICK OLDHAM is a member of the Brainerd High School class of 2012.