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Can't? We always did

AHS graduation speeches

Piper Guiney, an honors speaker, delivered this address at the 2024 Arlington High School commencement.

Good afternoon, Class of 2024, faculty, parents and grandparents who went to school with Mr. Barts. I want to start by congratulating you on this "special" achievement, which only about 3.8 million high schoolers do yearly.

I would also like to thank those here against their will, the siblings and friends, and all those who accidentally RSVP'd yes.

When I first attempted writing this speech, I seriously considered giving up. I said, "I can't; I don't even know what to write about."

How class overcame adversities

Then, when I came to think of it, I realized that "I can't" must be the most popular phrase in our high school vocabulary. How often have we all said, "I can't even go to class today," or "I can't take that test; I'll literally fail."

However, no matter how many times we as a class have said "we can't," we always did.

Entering our first day of freshman year over Zoom, saying, "I can't do remote school. It's too hard," even though the real reason we "couldn't" do it was because we were all seconds from falling asleep in our beds.

Nevertheless, we made it through Zoom school and hybrid as well as trekking from the old build to the new build during construction.

In our first year, when Arlington High's theater department "couldn't" perform due to Covid, they took that "can't" and created five beautiful plays over Zoom. The following year, when girls' ice hockey "couldn't" be good enough to make it far, they carried us all the way to the TD Garden as state finalists. We “couldn't” take another bio quiz sophomore year, and we definitely “couldn't” take the AP exams in the Red Gym this year.

Even Dr. Janger believes he "can't" send out another email regarding the schedule and somehow manages to send more each time. Nevertheless, he persisted. Our resilience and determination in the face of every adversity our class has faced has only gone to show that, yes, Arlington High School Class of 2024, you can and you will.

As we step into our next chapter, let's carry the same resilience and determination that helped us overcome every “can't” in high school. No matter where life takes us — college, career, gap year or redoing senior year at a hockey prep school — remember that when you think you “can't,” you've already proven that you can.

Congratulations, class of 2024. Here's to the journey ahead and to proving, once again, that we can. Thank you.


This viewpoint was published Sunday, June 2, 2024.

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