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Lisbon grads: Time to ‘do what you’re meant to do’
May 28, 2013 · Margaret Stevens


Challenged to enter their futures with courage and curiosity, 36 students graduated from Lisbon High School Sunday.

The message was iterated by salutatorian Austin Springsteen, valedictorian Alison Givens and Lisbon High School speech teacher J'Nee Reade, who gave the keynote address at commencement exercises in the Lions' Den.

Reade was reminded that members of the Lisbon High School Class of 2013 will be 36 when her newborn son is 18 and graduating himself. She compared his birth to the new world the graduates were entering. She said that the high school students will also get the shock of reality and may want to return to comforts of the world they know. But she asked the students to face their new normal like a newborn, with curiosity and wonderment, and sometimes with arms flailing about.

The family feeling among students and staff was evident with Blake Jamison getting a birthday shout-out and everyone sending good wishes to Catherine Reilly, who couldn't attend the ceremony because of an emergency appendectomy.

Givens quoted from her favorite genre of music, country and western - the Kenny Chesney song "Don't Blink." It says blink and 100 years go by. Givens said it seemed like yesterday they were taking naps in preschool, and she joked that she'd give a lot to have a chance to take naps again.

A five-year softball player, Givens said the sport offers a metaphor for life. She said softball is about hard work and perseverance. That a game can change dramatically with one swing of the bat. She asked that those in the gymnasium be brave enough to step up to the plate and take the big swing.

She finished by quoting her favorite baseball movie.

"It's okay to think about what you want to do, until it's time to do what you're meant to do."

Springsteen said he searched high and low for inspiration, and joked that maybe he should have started earlier than 11:30 the night before. As a sports fan, he drew on a speech by the late college basketball coach Jim Valvano. Springsteen asked the same questions Valvano asked: Where did we start, where are we now, were are we going?

In addressing the second question, Springsteen said the students were at a point of great transition, when they can become anything they choose.

"The problem with all the choices, is they can be petrifying," he said. "In the face of such selection, we must find courage.

"We'll fall flat on our faces sometimes, but we have to not only accept failure but have the courage to embrace it."

In addressing the last question, Springsteen advised his classmates to understand not just where they're going, but why. He told them to hold on to one thing: hope.

Superintendent Brad Laures, who is leaving the district for Denver, Iowa, after four years, made a few remarks before conferring degrees. He asked if the students remembered the confusion four years ago when they first arrived at Lisbon High School wondering where the bathrooms were, marveling at high school seniors with full beards.

"I don't know about you, but that was how I was feeling," he said.

He said the Class of 2013 has faced tragedies and controversies, along with its many successes. He congratulated the students on their accomplishments, "But remember, you're not done yet," Laures said. "Keep going and press on."

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