Commencement 2019

Time flies, Vicksburg School Superintendent Keevin O’Neill told graduating seniors.

That’s what he told them four years ago, he reminded them, when he was their principal and they were just entering the school.

“Was I right?”

“I also told you to make the most of it, enjoy every minute of it, to push yourself, to get involved, and to surround yourself with great people who will support you in achieving your goals.

“Well, you certainly took my advice and did not disappoint.

“You have pushed yourself academically, achieving a collective grade point average that is nothing short of impressive.  You took advantage of multiple AP course opportunities and took more AP exams than any other class. You have pushed yourself through the multiple fine arts opportunities, achieving excellence in band, choir, visual arts, film and video, photography and theatre, culminating in a historic Celebration of the Arts this past spring.

“You have pushed yourself in athletics and strength and conditioning, achieving multiple conference championships and individual honors.

“As I said earlier, time flies. You need to enjoy it, embrace it, and attack it. And most of all, you need to make the most of it every single day.

He had more advice for the graduates: “A few years ago, I was contacted by a local business looking for students interested in manufacturing careers. I perked up and told him “yes, I have some outstanding computerized manufacturing students here, all A’s.”

“He said, ‘That’s great, but are they reliable? I’m not worried about how much they know, I can teach them what I need, I just want employees I can rely on, that have strong character and drive.’

“After that conversation, I remembered some advice I received from some of my wisest friends. They said, ‘Keevin, you get hired for what you know, and fired for who you are.’

“In today’s world of work, we need people with strong collaboration skills, and the willingness to work as a team. We need people who are willing to look at things in a different way, to be creative in providing solutions to problems and to be flexible. We need people with strong communication skills, including careful listening skills.

“We need people to utilize critical thinking skills. To thoughtfully think about problems, to analyze situations in order to inform positive decision making.

As you begin your next chapter, which will fly by, I implore you to develop these skills as you take on new learning. Be a person of high character, be a mentor, be reliable, be willing to help others, be willing to listen. And last, but not least, don’t walk away from negative people, Run! In short, be a great citizen.”

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