Graduation 2020

Thomas Zehner '20

Student Government Association President
Class of 2020 Speaker
Good evening everyone, it's amazing to see you all in person and not through a Zoom screen. I can promise you that when I thought of giving my address to my classmates of 14 years, I never imagined that it would be like this. My friends and I have actually started to list every time we’ve heard the word “unprecedented” over the last few months and I think we must be nearing triple digits by now. What I want to focus on tonight is not the strange situation we find ourselves in, because I think we are all pretty aware of that by now, but rather what we can learn from all of our years here at Tower Hill ending in such an “unprecedented” way. 

People have said that this pandemic is our generational struggle, but I choose to look at it as an opportunity to learn in a new way. We are all about to embark on a new journey that no one before us has ever experienced, and it brings a new meaning to the word adaptability. Society today is unrecognizable from 10 years ago, and in another 10 years I’m sure it will look entirely different than it does right now. This school has helped shape us into smart, confident, independent adults, but most importantly I think we have learned to adapt to whatever comes our way. 

When I look across this field to see all of my friends and classmates, I don’t see a group of high school students anymore, but instead a team of people more than ready to tackle whatever is thrown at them.

The skills we will use for the rest of our lives have been instilled in us from the very beginning here at Tower Hill. Strong character and integrity that comes not from only the classroom but the athletic fields, dining room, and hallways. Each of us has faced challenges head on that we will face time and again in the future now with a clear course of action thanks to everyone here who has helped us along the way. Whether it has been a disagreement with friends, an insurmountable chemistry test (I’m looking at you Dr. Brown), or a daunting state tournament game, we have all prevailed to better days. 

But even more significant than the challenges are the memories that will last a lifetime. On that note, I’d like to take this chance to apologize to the underclassmen for our havoc that cost them their freshman homeroom in 141 because it caused so many issues. By the time we moved on to sophomore year, the school decided it would be better to turn the homeroom  into offices. I think that room was a good representation of us as a group. We are truly a “work hard, play hard” bunch, which could be seen when some forward-thinking students were studying in the homeroom while others were stacking chairs on top of each other to reach the ceiling or accidentally dropping phones out of an open window two stories above the pavement. Some people would see plain old drawers in a classroom and think “those would probably be good for holding books or school supplies.” But because we can think outside of the box, we said, why don’t we use these drawers to hold literally everything in our lives. From old clothes to sandwiches to jewelry to tennis rackets we could have run a successful pawn shop out of our freshman homeroom.

And clearly judging by the state of the senior homeroom, we have matured greatly over the four years of high school. There was so much innovation ranging from the coat hangars in the ceiling to the infamous “pizza locker” which I won’t go into detail on. 

The point is, we have maintained our fun loving nature throughout all the trials along the way, and this pandemic is no different. Rather than knock us down, it has just made us more creative and resilient. While recognizing that this has had a profound global impact, I have to say thank you to Covid-19 for its silver linings and for giving us our final lesson at Tower Hill. No matter how prepared we feel, there will always be events that are out of our control. But rather than shy away and take the path of least resistance, we now have all the experience we need to charge into the unknown, and put faith in ourselves and our abilities. And I think an “unprecedented” end to our journey here is the most fitting considering that we are an “unprecedented” group. We are the 100th graduating class of THS and now we have forever left our mark on Wilmington and the World in a way none of us could have imagined. (There's 4 more for the count boys)

We truly had the best childhood in the world here, we were lucky enough to have teachers and coaches become friends, and friends who have become family. So I want to say thank you: Thank you to Tower Hill for giving us the tools we need and the people we can always rely on, and now it's time for all of us to embark on our paths for the unpredictable future, but I promise that none of us will ever forget where we came from, Thank you.