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Dublin High School Gael Scholar Ben Sher Punctuates Commencement Ceremony

June 14, 2014
Dublin High School Class of 2014 Gael Scholar Benjamin Sher 2

Gael Scholar Benjamin Sher

by Benjamin Sher (Dublin High School Class of 2014)

Dublin High School Class of 2014 Gael Scholar Benjamin Sher stole the show at the Dublin High Commencement Ceremony with his speech to the graduating class on how to punctuate their lives. Below is the full text of the speech and video from the ceremony.

On my 18th birthday, in the dead of winter, I dove head-first into the frigid water of the Pacific ocean.


You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Ben, why would you do something so insane like that?”

It’s because I didn’t want to forget my 18th birthday. And after swimming in those ice-cold waters, I never will.

I was creating something I like to call “punctuation” for my life. Punctuation is formed when our lives come to a crossroads, when we wind down one chapter and begin the next one. It is created by slowing down, taking a breath and creating depth and meaning in our lives.

Gael Scholar Benjamin Sher

Gael Scholar Benjamin Sher

There are three crucial components to creating “punctuation” within our lives.

The first part is celebrating how far we’ve come. We owe it to ourselves to be proud of our own hard word! Celebration is important, but its only the first step towards creating depth.

The next phase is assessing our past actions. Were we grateful enough to those who helped us? Were we humble enough in our behavior? What could we have done differently? After this period of assessment we look to the future for decision time.

We make decisions that alter the course of our lives. We look to the future and set goals. We try and create some sense of overall balance in our lives. It’s decision time.

Punctuation is a state of mind more than an action. It’s a pensive, state of mind that allows us to see the bigger picture. Walking across a stage is not punctuation, but reflection about high school and plans for the future is. Without punctuation we keep on slogging through life as if it was one giant run on sentence. Instead of a chapter book with peaks and valleys life becomes one giant spiceless blur. Who wants that?

Up until today, punctuation has been inserted into our lives for us. In 5th grade we had promotion, and three years later we had 8th grade graduation. Here we are gathered today at the last mandatory time that the world forces us to literally stop and create meaning, high school graduation. This is it.

We all diverge from here. Some of us might join the military, others might enter a trade and many others will go off to college. No more guaranteed punctuation. You can work everyday of your life from here on out and never stop to celebrate a crossroads.

Yet we have a responsibility to create punctuation in our lives here on out.
In my opinion, graduation while punctuation, is a comma, we show up, listen to a few speeches and walk across a stage, we’ll probably remember it, but all we did was pause and move on, like we do for any comma.

For my 18th birthday, that was a period. I needed more than a comma. Maybe diving into the ocean could even be considered an exclamation mark!

It’s up to us to decide. Do you want a life full of commas? Maybe we need a mix of exclamation, periods and even question marks. It doesn’t matter what you choose so long as it punctuates your life in the way you want it. Don’t let your life be a run-on sentence!

So what is your next sentence? Mine is this summer. I’m going to spend a summer with no HW, no job, no commitment and just enjoy myself. My punctuation will be the first night in my dorm at college. How I’m going to honor that first night, I don’t know, follow me on Facebook to find out?

Decide how you want to punctuate your life. Perhaps if you were the kid in high school who studied for thousands of hours and never left the cave of your room the punctuation that would be most meaningful to you would be skydiving, and taking a real risk. That’s something you won’t forget.

Maybe in High School your parents were always hovering over you. The punctuation you need might be going on a solo vacation. A rite of passage!

So right now, I want you to think what the next chapter of your life is, and how you want to celebrate it. Think about it, and save it. How do you want to punctuate it? What is going to make it stick in your mind. This is it for Dublin.

The next punctuation is your own. Make it count, make it memorable.


One Comment
  1. Stephanie Anderson permalink
    June 15, 2014 8:20 am

    Nice job Ben! *sniff* English RULES! Get it? Get it? See, that was an English joke… Oh, never mind.

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