High school commencement ceremonies are momentous occasions for graduates, as well as their families and friends. Mortarboard caps fly into the air, tossed by jubilant graduates in their shiny gowns, and the excitement can hardly be contained. Graduation speakers, both keynoters and valedictorians, may find themselves challenged to come up with memorable oratorical comments that will hold the attention and inspire these enthusiastic participants. What suitable and significant quotes from famous speakers, writers, and other figures might be appropriate for high school commencement speeches?
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Here are 10 famous quotes that are ideal for a graduation speech.
These popular quotations appear in random order.
1. A graduation perspective
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Albert Einstein, a famous German physicist and quite possibly one of the most intelligent humans ever, uttered these memorable words to affirm the important of lifelong learning. Truly, for a smart and inquisitive person, education does not end with graduation. The school of real-life has many valuable lessons to offer.
This graduation quote, from a world-famous genius, is particularly appropriate for a high school commencement ceremony. As graduating seniors may celebrate the end of secondary schooling, they are only beginning to learn what life may have in store for them.
2. A graduate’s motivation
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” Vince Lombardi (1913 – 1970)
Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers football coach, knew how to fire up a team with energy and enthusiasm. Lombardi also understood the importance of self-motivation. His inspiring and memorable statement, although he probably spoke it initially during in the Green Bay Packer locker room as a halftime pep talk, is an apt quotation for a high school graduation. Young adults who enter college and career life with enthusiasm will surely surpass the success of those who do not.
3. A graduation direction
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Confucius (551 BC – 451 BC)
Confucius, the oft-quoted ancient Chinese philosopher, was known for his terse and pithy words of wisdom. This short sentence admonishes listeners to pour their entire hearts, their passions and the sum total of their energies into their life callings. A high school graduation speech is the ideal spot for such a memorable statement. Graduating high school seniors can benefit greatly from this motivational admonition.
4, A graduation initiative
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a transcendental philosopher, often employed imagery from nature in his writings. This Emerson quotation is no exception, but it offers exceptional advice, particularly for high school graduates.
As young adults complete their high school careers and enter higher education or the working world, they will be faced with significant, often life determining choices. This memorable graduation quotation is ideal for a commencement speech, because Emerson’s words encourage high schoolers and other listeners to find their own paths, chart their own courses and make a mark wherever they may go.
5. A graduate’s identity
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland (1922 – 1969)
Judy Garland, the award-winning American actress, uttered these individualistic words many decades ago. However, the truths still hold, especially for high school graduates. Young adults, as they celebrate their commencement ceremony and look forward to life after high school, may be tempted to conform to the crowd. However, as Garland’s memorable statement clearly shows, it is important for them to find their own identities and maintain them with integrity.
A high school commencement speech might include this memorable quote, as it strongly encourages graduates to discover who they are and what they stand for, and then to stand firm in those convictions. Instead of simply following “the yellow brick road” to some unknown, but popular spot “over the rainbow,” graduates may be urged to follow their own dreams, character and ethics.
6. A graduation admonition
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss (1904 – 1991)
Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, may be the most popular children’s author of all time. This memorable statement on personal identity is ideal for a high school commencement speech. Dr. Seuss wrote many nonsense rhymes, although many of these had important underlying meanings. From The Cat in the Hat to Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’ books were often the first works read independently by most children.
What could be more fitting than to finish a high schooler’s educational program with advice quoted from this memorable master writer and wordsmith?
7. A graduate’s effort
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Beverly Sills (1929 – 2007)
Beverly Sills, a much-acclaimed American operatic soprano, surely knew the importance of endurance, persistence and hard work. Rehearsals, script memorization and casting calls marked her weekly schedule for many years. Sills’ memorable statement on shortcuts would be well-received in a high school commencement speech, because it is pertinent to graduating seniors. No matter what their post-graduate plans may be, young adults will surely find that shortcuts rarely lead to success and prosperity.
8. A graduate’s discernment
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)
Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, has been recognized for millennia as a man of wisdom. Many of his proverbial statements have lingered with us, simply because they are true. This memorable Aristotelian quotation is fitting and fine for a high school commencement speech. As graduating seniors begin their young adult lives, after secondary school, they will be faced with a greater level of independence than they may have ever known. Choices will arise, for which the right answers may not be immediately evident. Aristotle’s wisdom holds here. An intelligent and educated individual will have the ability to examine choices carefully and make up his own mind. What wonderful advice for high school graduates.
9. A graduation challenge
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)
Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who led many nations through World War II, has been memorialized for his leadership abilities, his achievements and his oratory. Churchill’s memorable statement on success and failure would fit nicely within a high school commencement speech. Certainly, all human beings are destined to face failures, either large or small, at some point. Even high school graduates, with their world-beater enthusiasm, may encounter disappointments during their higher education or career pursuits.
This memorable and motivational graduation quotation clearly expresses the impermanence of failure, so long as temporary setbacks are seen as springboards instead of traps.
10. A graduate’s future
“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5)
William Shakespeare, the bard of Avon, is probably the most famous poet and playwright of all time. Virtually every high school graduate has read at least one Shakespearean work for a class assignment, even under duress. Shakespeare’s memorable statement on self-awareness, taken from his tragic drama, Hamlet, offers an important dichotomy. This quotation is most suitable for a high school commencement speech, or even for the front of a printed graduation ceremony program, because it expresses a sense of promise for the future.
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By the time he graduates from high school, a young adult has probably begun to form their own sense of identity. He has an emerging sense of who he is. Still this self-definition is likely to change, over the years, with increased maturity and experience. Isn’t that what life after high school is all about?
Commencement speakers tend to focus on such motivational topics as effort, initiative, and hard work – pointing high school graduates towards making and pursuing their own life goals and meeting challenges with enthusiasm and determination. These 10 popular quotations from famous individuals in various walks of life may be just the ticket for such inspiring speeches.