Following is the commencement address by student speaker Tomoki Imura, president of the Glenbrook South High School Student Council Executive Board, at Glenbrook South's graduation ceremony on June 5 at the Rosemont Theatre.
Good afternoon, Class of 2022, and a warm welcome to families, friends, faculty members, distinguished guests, and maybe not so distinguished ones. I mean, I don't know each and every one of you personally, so anything is possible.
All kidding aside, I would like to thank the above-mentioned groups and also thank the most underappreciated people at our school: custodians and parapros (paraprofessionals), especially Frank, Bubby, and of course we can't forget Curly. We love all of them. They were an integral part of our high school experience, and I cannot thank them enough.
I'm so sorry ... Just give me one second ... (Takes a selfie.)
That'll be part of my senior post so make sure to like and comment.
OK then ...
I stand here today not to talk about my own accomplishments, but rather to talk about all of us, the 765 students graduating today. So let's give ourselves a round of applause.
This speech is my high school career's last writing assignment, and I already got into college so you know what that means. I get to take advantage of this opportunity.
We've come a long way from 2018 when we walked through the doors of Glenbrook South for the first time at freshmen orientation to now in 2022, the moment you heard the last bell ring and "Where'd the Time Go" play over the PA.
The time at GBS really did fly, and we've seen all kinds of trends and viral videos you could imagine. I mean, we really went from Yanny versus Laurel to Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard.
So many things have changed. We have changed.
But some things still remain unchanged. Like the nonexistent dividers in the men's bathrooms. Yeah, four years of pleading and we still don't have them.
But, seriously, some things never change. Teachers still love and are passionate about what they do. Freshmen still stand in the middle of the hallway. And Drivers Ed is still the hardest class at GBS.
There were endless moments of laughter during our time at GBS. But we also vividly remember the struggles we experienced. The arduous times that never seemed to end. The moments you needed your friends and family beside you.
I've always told my friends that I'm here for them, but I ignored my own advice and pushed myself through high school alone until I couldn't push myself anymore. Until I couldn't bear the struggles alone.
Fortunately at GBS, we have trustworthy people I could talk to. I don't know why I didn't ask for help sooner. You may not be aware of people struggling around you, but I promise you -- you are not alone.
You know that I've struggled because I'm brave enough to share it with others. I am once again asking you to put yourself above school. Your English paper is not worth tearing your mental health over. Your diploma is not worth it if you don't find meaning in what you do.
For many of us going to college and for those directly pursuing a career, freedom comes with a lot of responsibilities. Your family won't be there to wake you up before school and your phone bill won't pay itself.
I could try to say something wise and quote some random philosopher to make you feel better about your future, but I don't know what the future holds. I'm only 18.
So I decided to quote Beyoncé instead.
One of the greatest minds of our generation and a lyrical genius once said: "You've got to always go back in time if you want to move forward."
Just kidding, that was actually Snoop Dogg.
But my point still stands: We need to learn how to take a step back and think about what's best for us, what makes us happy.
I don't know what I want to be or what I want to do in the future, and it's OK if you don't, either. But I know that I want to be happy and to be able to find meaning in what I do.
Here we are now. Heads held high. Hearts filled with hopes and dreams. We are the generation that is about to change the world. Our journeys have already begun and high school was just a part of it.
Class of 2022, it was an honor serving as your student body president, and I hope you have an amazing rest of your life. Thank you.