Grad speech: Deer Park HS Principal Joe Feist

Staff Writer

Joe Feist, principal for Deer Park High School, gave the following speech at graduation on Friday:

“We want to welcome everyone to the 2020 Deer Park High School graduation ceremony. I have to say I miss looking out at all those smiling parents knowing their son or daughter has made it to graduation.

I need to say that in my 39 years of working in high schools, this spring has been the strangest and most challenging yet. The spring is usually my favorite time of year. I look forward to watching our seniors get ready for life after high school. I usually spend the spring attending award ceremonies, athletic contests, drama productions and music concerts. I enjoy visiting classrooms to observe our students as they master the toughest academic courses. It’s a time of celebration.

Unfortunately in 2020, our school year was cut short and we were forced to communicate through emails and phone calls. Our seniors were unable to experience the traditional activities of spring. Instead, they learned life lessons in patience and perseverance. They discovered different ways to learn and demonstrated the strength needed to complete difficult tasks. They learned that it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to adversity that defines who you are. I want to commend our seniors for staying engaged and finishing strong. The lessons you learned this spring will serve you well in the future.

Seniors, I ask you to look back on the spring and give yourself credit for accepting the challenges that COVID-19 presented. Instead of talking about experiences that you missed, look back at all the accomplishments and memories you created during your four years at Deer Park High School. Remember the incredible music concerts, the moving drama productions, the champion- ships won and the friends you made for life.

Also seniors, you have been an outstanding academic class. Six valedictorians with perfect 4.0 grade point averages and three salutatorians with a 3.9 or better grade point average is a testament to your academic focus. As a group, you per- formed above state averages on standardized testing, you volunteered for thousands of hours of community service in order to support the Deer Park community, you are leaving the legacy of leadership and success.

We are proud of you and we wish you the best as you pursue your life goals. As you look back on the spring of 2020, just remember: you had the strength to finish strong. Be proud of how you made the best of a tough situation.”