Will Milward '99
June 3, 2022
Hello Class of 2022, Family and Friends, Teachers and Administrators,
It is great to be here this morning. Commencement speakers from the recent past have included a Neonatologist, NFL player, and Gold Medal winner, and lucky for you, you get a Commercial Insurance Broker! I know that the last few years have been an unusual and trying time for everyone, but I am glad I can be here in front of you today, in person, gathered on such a joyous occasion. Life has certainly challenged all of us and given us a lesson in how to deal with adversity. Through this, all of you before me have persevered and triumphed. It has taught us the value of relationships and the need for the human spirit to interact with one another, and for that we can be thankful.
With news media disproportionately highlighting the negative aspects or influences in the world, it is easy to succumb to fear, but I challenge you to remain positive and undeterred as you move forward on your journey. I had a DARE officer in sixth grade here at TLS, and for those who may not know what DARE is; it stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was geared toward educating middle schoolers on the dangers of drugs. Apparently DARE was replaced a few years later with the much hipper “Keepin It Real” campaign, or KIR, which, quite frankly, does not have the same ring to it. While our original DARE officer was ironically arrested for possession of drugs that she failed to report as evidence, the replacement officer provided a very elementary demonstration, but it carried a message that has stuck with me to this day. He held up a piece of paper with a small black dot on it and asked the class what we saw. In unison, we all yelled out, “a black dot.” What he pointed out and what we had failed to recognize was the overwhelming amount of white left on the page. We were all so focused on the tiny imperfection, that we neglected the untouched beauty that enveloped it. So, just remember that in life there will always be disappointments, losses, or other negative external forces that you will have to overcome. During those times, focus on the positive, know that there is a brighter tomorrow, and lean on those closest to you.
Lean on your parents, friends, and loved ones. Those who helped get you this far and those who will help get you through the difficulties of tomorrow. While you will undoubtedly add new friends, the friends and foundation of your character that you have built here at TLS has established the social framework for all future relationships in your life. As you grow older, you will begin to be more appreciative of these bonds. As Ms. MacCarthy said, I am in the Commercial Insurance business and ever since I started 15 years ago, I have constantly heard that it “is a relationship business.” While I find this to be true, aren’t most successful professions driven by great relationships? Relationships with vendors or suppliers, customers or clients. These connections are built on things like integrity and trust, no different than all great relationships in life. Likewise, support for one another and mutual respect are pillars to healthy relationships in both your professional and personal lives.
As you get older, you will start to think more about the impact these relationships have on you and the way your life impacts others, which will ultimately help shape your legacy in this world. I remember in Mr. Scarr’s fourth grade English class doing a book of famous quotes, and the first one I chose was by the great Jackie Robinson, who exclaimed just that, “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Now, you do not have to hold the standard for your legacy up against the pioneers of history, but rather those who are in the audience of your life and who you have a platform to reach. My dad has many sayings that he has tried to impart on me and my brothers over the years, “plow to the end of the field,” “leave the campsite better than you found it,” the list goes on, but one has resonated more than the others in that, “you represent something larger than yourself.” Hear that again because in a world where everything is seemingly caught on video, maybe this warning message will go off in your head before making a bad decision down the line, because all of you do, “represent something larger than yourself.” You represent your family, friends, community, future employers, and past and future schools. As you go off to high school, you are representing The Lexington School. TLS has prepared you for that challenge, so do not let that weigh on you as a burden, but rather be grateful that you have the honor of representing those that have supported and believed in you to this point.
I mentioned my dad, and my parents are here today still supporting me. I know that I did not appreciate it, as I should have when I was in your shoes, but be grateful for the opportunity you have had to be a part of something as special as TLS and the Class of 2022. You have made amazing friendships and memories that will last your lifetime. Take time today to thank your teachers, both past and present. Let them know you appreciate the time and effort they have put into making you who you are today. Take time today to thank your parents. Thank them for making a commitment to TLS on your behalf. Thank them for the science projects they helped you with, or the spelling tests they prepared you for. They chose to make an investment in you and your future out of the love they have for you. Be grateful for that, and continue to be grateful to them and others who have and will continue to help you along your journey.
Life is one big opportunity, an opportunity to do something great in this world. With the tools that TLS has given you, you have the foundation to go forward and do just that. Remain positive throughout your journey, cherish and nurture the relationships in your life, and be grateful for what you have been given, now and always. With that, I congratulate you and wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors.