Friday, June 4–Governor Gives Advice To Decatur’s Graduating Class

OCEAN
CITY – Hammering home a consistent message about the ominous challenges they
face and a reliance on them to tackle those challenges, Maryland Gov. Martin
O’Malley on Wednesday addressed Stephen Decatur High School’s 2010 graduation
class at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

With
evidence of Senior Week in Ocean City sprouting up all over the place outside
the convention center on a hazy, hot early June night, the mood inside was
decidedly celebratory, if not somewhat somber, as O’Malley delivered his
commencement remarks to the 342-member class of 2010 and their friends and
families.

“Congratulations,
you did it,” he said. “Tonight, we celebrate your accomplishments in the
classroom, your hours of community service, your feats in math, science,
engineering and on the sports fields, but more importantly, we celebrate the
possibility of things to come.”

The
governor told the graduates those possibilities included the enormous
challenges they will face when they walked out of the ceremony and urged them
to embrace those challenges as they prepare to move on to the next phase of
their lives.

“We are
not on the precipice of some cliff, we are on the threshold of unthinkable
change and you are at the center of it,” he said. “We need you, each and every
one of you, and the next generation really needs you. The future is not a gift,
it’s an obligation.”

“We
need you” is a phrase repeated often as the governor addressed the Stephen
Decatur graduates. He recited just a few of the challenges the 2010 graduation
class will need to tackle as they enter adulthood and prepared to become future
leaders in the community.

“You
leave here with enormous challenges, global terror, global pandemics, global
poverty, global hunger and global climate change,” he said. “These are
challenges you have to face, but you are the answer. You are the answer to
these challenges.”

O’Malley
did not miss the opportunity to remind the graduates and those in attendance of
his administration’s fiscal commitment to the school systems across Maryland,
pointing out an increased investment in K-12 education and, for those parents
ready to send their graduates off to college, a tuition freeze at state institutions,
which garnered a smattering of applause from the audience.

“We
need you,” the governor told the graduates in a recurring theme of his address.
“Because we need you, we’ve made an unprecedented investment in your education.
We do so because we are preparing you for leadership in these challenging
times,” the governor said.

While
O’Malley recognized the individual accomplishments of the graduating students,
he also pointed to the highly successful Worcester County public school system
from which they were leaving. The governor remarked about Worcester’s perpetual
place near or at the top of the state rankings and the inordinate number of
state and national blue ribbon schools in the local system.

“These
things don’t happen by accident,” he said. “They happen because of all of the
people committed to this school and this school system including you students,
the teachers, the administrators and your parents.”

However,
the governor’s message kept coming back to the challenges the graduates will
face and their collective willingness to embrace and tackle those challenges.

“You
have an awesome responsibility,” he said. “Will your world change you, or will
you go out and change your world?”

O’Malley
urged Decatur’s graduating class to tackle the challenges head on, if not for
the promise of their own futures, but the futures of those who follow them.

“We
have always chosen to move forward,” he said. “We believe our tomorrows can be
better than our todays. The greatest of our freedoms is the freedom to make our
future better, not just for ourselves, but for those who come after us.”

At the
close of the governor’s commencement remarks, Principal Lou Taylor presented
him with a gift from the students of an original piece of art from renowned
local artist Patrick Henry.

 

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