My name is Dominika Piech and it is with pride and honor that I represent the Class of 2020 of Lake County High School. First and foremost, I would like to thank the faculty, coaches, and staff, as well as the parents and guardians of us graduating students. You have all made sacrifices and contributions for your students that have helped us finish this special chapter in our lives. Whether it was tutoring, or being there when a student needed someone to understand, you have helped us in ways that we are extremely grateful for.

Twelve years of school, eighteen years of life, and one day to graduate. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected hardships at us, and as humans, we are not always satisfied with the way things turn out. However, there is more to success and accomplishments than just looking at the results without understanding that it all comes down to the process, experiences and effort involved.

Looking back at my high school years, I was always outcome orientated. It was always about what grade I got, not about the moments I spent laughing with my friends while we were creating an awful replica of the solar system. It was always about the time I got when I finished my cross country race, not about the inside-jokes that caused the team to stop running from laughing so hard. Point being, I stressed too much about the results and did not enjoy the times I got to connect and share little bits of happiness with others. Just like many of you, I have certain milestones I want to meet and things I want to experience. Don’t get me wrong, being ambitious is great, but one of the things about the journey is that it holds so many things that often go unnoticed. The outcomes continue to change as we move from one level of life to the other, but the journey remains constant.

In the midst of the change we have undergone during the past few months, it is important to recognize your resilience. Not only have we all met the academic requirements, we have also learned the larger lessons in life of “nothing is promised” and the “uncertainty of tomorrow.” With that being said, I have a message for you all. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. Take away the special moments from your high school experience during these tough times. You are going to remember what you want to remember. What mattered to me this year ultimately was the little moments I shared with many of you that allowed me to grow as a whole person. Some people who graduate from high school experience only one graduation, but we all have several more things we will be able to celebrate ahead of us; because life is a journey, not a destination, which requires continuous growth. This is our moment, we control how we use our time. I am sure we have all encountered the depths of sadness and loss, but I know that we have also learned that in the face of any challenge, you can choose joy and meaning.

So, my fellow classmates; Commit to the journey, not the outcome. Things like family. Enjoying friends. Nurturing relationships. Forgiving enemies. Enjoying life. Experiencing peace.

We lost a lot, but we have so much to give. This outcome did not take away your purpose. Although this is not the graduation we were expecting, I’m honored to celebrate this achievement with all of you. And, if anything, you will be able to say with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, that you made history.

Congratulations to you Class of 2020!

Dominika Piech presented this speech in Lake County High School’s virtual graduation ceremony on Friday.

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