A Message to the Class of 2020


Dr. Reginald Eggleston

On May 23, 2020, I spoke to the senior class of 2020 during our virtual graduation. I serve as the Superintendent of Schools in the Geary County Schools USD475 school district. Over 300 students and their parents/guardians have been impacted by the effects of COVID19 along with the rest of the world. In my message I stressed the need to learn from the mistakes of others, serve your community, and fight through the desire to set limitations on opportunities and your life. Below is a version of the speech delivered to the seniors at Junction City High School, Junction City, Kansas.

“Before I begin my speech, let me first say congratulations to our parents, grandparents and guardians. For the past 18 years you have done all you can to ensure your graduate reaches this milestone in his or her life. Thank you for your untiring efforts, your commitment and your patience. This graduation is a shared accomplishment. Your steadfast love and guidance have paid off.

“Next, I want to say thank you to every teacher who has prepared and facilitated lessons to this 2020 graduating class over the past 13 years. We believe that the graduation ceremony is a school district celebration where every school can celebrate its contribution to the success of each graduate. Teachers, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

“Now, to the class of 2020, Congratulations! Today is a great day. It’s a day to celebrate with your family and friends. I’m certain you have heard the words “this is an interesting time we are living in”. I believe there is a silver lining in every situation or circumstance we find ourselves. Moments like these test our resilience, our patience, and our humanity. They give us an opportunity to reset and reflect on what’s most important, such as our health, family, coworkers, neighbors and friends. We shift our attention from complaining about what we cannot do, or do not have, to embracing a new reality and deciding to make the most of it.

“Who could have foreseen that a “stay in place” order would be enforced and that the privilege of freely moving throughout our community, state, nation and the world would be interrupted due to this pandemic? The fact that we cannot patronize our favorite restaurants, attend schools, go to the movies or fellowship at a place of worship is traumatizing and difficult to comprehend for many. We must remain optimistic and connected to each other.

“The silver lining in this, for me, is a greater appreciation for the life I have and opportunities that are before me. There is no such thing as a dress rehearsal in life. We only have one life to live and we should embrace it and take advantage of every opportunity we have. We should maximize each moment. This pandemic has taught us that we should not put off the important things in life. Before I close, I want to share a few nuggets with you that I believe will serve as a compass as you move into the next phase of your life.

“First, don’t set limitations on your life nor allow others to do so. You have more opportunities to be successful than any generation before you. Race, color, gender, and ethnicity should not set boundaries on the goals you can accomplish. You can attend a two year or four-year college or university, you can join the military, go directly into the workforce, become an entrepreneur, or do a combination of these options. You are only limited by your effort and vision.


“I would recommend that you surround yourself with individuals who can support and assist you toward being your best. There is an old saying that goes “ You are who you hang around”! This is a true statement, because the people around you will influence you the most. As you grow into adulthood, you will have to make conscious decisions about the people you will keep close to you. Life is full of distractions; the people you share your life and goals with should be of the same mind. They should not be a distraction. Developing a strong support system is an invaluable resource.

“And finally,

“At present, we are practicing social distancing and relying on social media to interact with family, friends and to conduct business. As we begin to return to what we call normal, strong interpersonal skills such as the ability to problem solve and collaborate with others will be very important. Social media is a wonderful tool for sharing and connecting; however, it does not take the place of knowing how to interact with individuals face to face or in a group setting. One of the top concerns managers in the business sector have voiced, is that they need employees who can effectively communicate, problem solve and work well with others.

“In closing, let me say that I am proud of each graduate and that I wish you the very best that life has to offer. You are our future leaders. Learn from the mistakes of others, and seek opportunities to serve your family, community and country. It is with great joy that I announce that you have met all the requirements set forth by the Kansas State Board of Education; therefore, I am honored to present to all the graduating class of 2020. Congratulations!

“As the commander of the 4-413th SROTC BN, Fort Knox, KY., I would like to congratulate the graduates of all who serve our country and wear the uniform.”


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