Three Graduates Speak
(Reprinted From The Daily Record June
note: The following three items are excerpts from the three
senior speakers’ comments EHS commencement, Tuesday, when 210
students including 5 with all A’s completed their high school
SCHNEBLY: If I have learned one thing in the past
12 years it has been the fact that to get an education that is
complete it is necessary to leave the school and class room
behind. It is true that we learn to objectively analyze facts
and concepts in school but education has to start with
experience and experience means involvement in life.
To achieve this education
means to become modern day Don Quixotes, swinging windmills on
whirling whims and losing our heads on unrealistic ideals. It
means to play the fool in order to be hurt by the brutalities
of experience…for the pure unmitigated sense of experiencing
life in all its forms. It is time we get away from worshipping
the future, time to stop planning for life and start living.
We have laid our lives on the
sacrificial altars of this modern day deity we call the
future. We are supposed to get good grades so we can be
admitted to a good college, so we can get a good job, so we
can enjoy the good things in life-and all at the expense of
living. On this gravy train to the good things in the future
everything has become standardized- from those wonderful
standardized textbooks which have accompanied us on the route
to standardized obituary notices which will be our final
Those who shun the value of
this system are punished for their nonconformity but in
choosing to deny this system they have chosen to face
existence without a peaches and cream protective attitude. For
leaving the square classrooms with the square books and the
square teachers behind-for refusing to participate in planned,
extracurricular activities which build you into a nice
well-rounded youth, they will be the true inheritors of the
diversity and creativity unique to the human race. It is when
we think it is the job of society to protect us from fear and
tensions-the very essence of life itself-that we lose our
battle to those who wish to subject man to the animal
qualities of heard domination and control.
So, let us go out and achieve
this education. How much it is we learn about communication
and understanding other people while driving up and down 8th
street on nights of endless neon expansion, or at backseat
stands during drive-in movies, or in spending days and nights
looking through the brown glass bottled world in all its
myopic splendor. There are many seniors I can happily call my
friends as the result of such an experience.
“Short is the season of man’s
delight,” said the Greek poet Pindar, 2,500 years ago, and it
is upon this note that I also support the extended education
of us seniors, and of all seniors past and future. We know not
the value of a good and stable job in the future but we do
know the acute shortness of life.
For some 70 odd years we are
on a stage and have a choice in the parts we play: to bow out
to experience and place our trust in a future till there is no
longer a future to trust; or to play our parts to the fullest
extent-living each moment – seizing the day-come whatever what
may. Today let us live so tomorrow we can tolerate and
understand our children when they invent even wackier ways of
turning on and having fun. My parents have shown a complete
ignorance of the new math and other weird ideas I have picked
up in school, but from their own experience outside of school,
30 years ago, they can understand my madcap flings as I will
understand my children’s. And of such is the university of
this type of education-an education that creates diversity and
creativity, broadens communication and understand, and pierces
the artificial strictures of the generation gap.
JACK POWELL—One date in
history that we should never forget is 1957. Although we may
not remember some of the events, Dwight D. Eisenhower took
office as President of the United States after being elected
to his second term, the New York Yankees were put in second
place in the World Series by Milwaukee, and the U.S.S.R. put
their first satellite, the Sputnik 1, into space.
We probably, do , however,
remember that in Ellensburg, another historical even took
place, on which was more important to us, this being that the
Senior Class of 1969 started their academic career in the
When we look back on that
school year 12 years ago, we probably remember only a very few
things, such as the name of our teacher, some of the people in
our class, and maybe how the third graders were always picking
on us. There were 180 days in that school year, though somehow
it now seems only a few awkward moments in time.
The second and third grades
soon followed, and on a world scale, the United States and
Russian were just starting the space race.
Between the years 1960 and
1962, our fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, a multitude of
events took place. We had somewhere around 100 million people
in the United States, and they seemed pretty evenly split
between the presidential candidates, Kennedy and Nixon.
In space race, things weren’t
nearly so close. The Soviets had orbited a man 17 ½ times
around the earth before we had even ventured into space. Girls
and boys were starting to get to know each other better off
the diamond, too.
The seventh grade was quite a
shock for many of the sixth graders who had just gone from a
one room-one teacher set up to a Junior High program. They had
another big shock this year; this was the death of John F.
Kennedy. When we look back we can probably remember where we
were and what the conditions were when the President’s death
was announced, but life did go on.
The eighth grade came and went
with all kinds of excitement. On the National Front, Goldwater
was completely wiped out of the presidential race by the
overwhelming victory of Johnson, and St. Louis knocked the
Yankees so badly out of the World Series that it would take
several years for them to recover.
The ninth grade was a good
year for the students. We were now the biggest and the oldest
in the school, and no seventh grader would dare push around
his big upper classmen.
The following year, we started
a brand new experience in High School, and the sound of Mickey
Mouse came at us from every direction, and we can still
probably see sights of food flying in all directions that year
when food fights were an everyday occurrence. By the sophomore
year a decade of history and school life had taken place since
we started the first grade. Forty new nations had been born in
this period of time, and we had seen the space race go from
Sputnik to Gemini VII.
In the second year of high
school, we were introduced to a brand new principal. With Mr.
(William) Brown, whom we had just come to know and like,
retired and a new guy, Doctor (Rod) Hermes, taking his place,
we had the experience of going from one principal to another.
And now we have the year which
we have all been looking forward to for so long, the last year
in high school. Although world affairs were much farther from
our minds than the Vantage parties or graduation, Mr. Vancil
saw that we kept will up on not only what happened in Ancient
Mesopotamia, but also what is happening in Biafra. The war in
Vietnam is starting to seem much closer now to many of our
students who can anticipate military service, though many will
be exempt for a few years by going to college. At any rate,
this will probably be the last time that we will all be
together, with the Senior Class more that likely dispersing
throughout the world. But as we go, each in a separate
direction, let us remember how much history has taken place in
these twelve years. Remembering not only such world shaking
events as the death of President Kennedy, his brother Robert
Kennedy, or John Glenn orbiting the earth, but let us also
remember the much small things which will never be recorded in
history books, but should always be kept in that little
special place for such affairs.
JONGEWARD---In my near past, I used to pride myself
on my open-mindedness. I look back now and think-Was I really
open-minded? I would talk to those who wore the right clothes,
had the right friends, and of course turned out for all
sports. These were the only people to talk to. I was a social
climber with a hate complex. I wouldn’t think of talking to
some one without these superficial qualifications. I continued
on this dead-end path clear through my sophomore year in High
School. Then I stopped and took a good look at myself and the
others around school. Wow! Through my Senior year I came to
realize that just about everyone was using everyone else and,
most important of all, we were creating within ourselves the
greatest capacity for hate that we might ever have.
Hate is a very complex thing.
Ignorance is often the foundation upon which hate is built.
Being ignorant is synonymous with being uninformed and
unaware. Wallowing in ignorance will naturally breed fear in
what is not understood. This results in misunderstanding.
These three things, ignorance, fear and misunderstanding,
together form the fourth complexity of hate- Prejudice. We
might pride our selves in being rational people, but do
rational people form opinions without taking time and care to
judge fairly? Many of us don’t even take the trouble to think.
Unfortunately, Ellensburg is
not sharing enough of the elements that are disrupting the
normality of other cities throughout the nation. We have a
college to help stimulate our thinking, yet we remain naïve.
Hate is something we read about in the newspapers-Angry Black
Militants, Angry White Militants, Communist Oriented Radical
Elements, Hate filled Yippies, and of course, Peace Loving
Hippies. Because of our sheltered environment, it might be
said that we have actually been programmed to hate. Our lives
have been too much one sided-not really well rounded at all.
We have been brought up in ignorance to such things as
starvation, extreme poverty, having to quit High School to
support a family. Many of us may have never talked to a Negro,
a girl awaiting an abortion, or even an old man waiting to
die. We are not accustomed to any radical ideologies or
concepts. From our ignorance we very easily fear the things
that we have not grown accustomed to and naturally we close
our minds and misunderstand them. We all went through grade
school and Junior High School together with many of our
teachers teaching at us rather than with us or through us. We
were not all treated as individuals but as a group. We were
becoming pattern people, readied for shipment to the outside
world, except many of our teachers didn’t really know what the
outside world was all about. Then a remarkable thing happened.
We entered High School and
many of us realized we weren’t the cute little kids we thought
we were-and those who would, began accepting a little
responsibility. The intelligent students, realizing that
college and the outside world lay just around the corner,
began pursuing their interests, and thinking different
thoughts, their own individual thoughts. This segment realized
that it was time to do their own thing, to stand alone as
individuals for the things they believe in. Learning to do
ones’ own thing is hard In this process, some of us may become
conspicuous, and invite displays of hate and fear, from other
groups and individuals. Three years ago, one group in our high
school, took on the task of rehabilitating a student because
they didn’t appreciate his style. Another year a small group
called the gypsies was chosen as the object of our hatred.
This year, we have again developed a couple of sub-cultures,
around which most of us have chosen sides and developed
According to what we read in
the newspapers this makes them hippies, potheads, speed freaks
and sexual perverts. Accordingly, one civic-conscious group of
us took the burden of straightening these misfits out. We
hassled them. The sound reasoning behind these actions? “We
don’t like long-haired hippies.” There isn’t a person here
tonight who doesn’t dislike someone. But we’re one up on the
animals. We have the capacity for thinking and reasoning
instead of hating and fighting. The choice is ours and the
intelligent will choose the right one.
Hate will never accomplish the
great things that love and understanding can, given the
chance. Thinking of others and their rights will become as
important as thinking of our own. We complain and rebel
because our parents are leaving us their fragmented world,
seeded with their problems, arising from their mistakes and
bad judgment. But if we stop and think, we will realize that
we have an even better chance to mess things up than they did.
We will have the greatest responsibilities ever handed down to
a new generation. Our lives will depend on the decisions we
make. There will be no second chances. Hindsight, foresight,
tempered with love, understanding, and respect for each other
will be the only truly peaceful way to live.