Aaron Parisi, President of the Montville Township High School Class of 2023, addressed his peers during the 52nd Annual MTHS Commencement Exercises. The high school senior encouraged his classmates to “Make each and every single moment count because before long these new and exciting moments will eventually fade into your past.”
Acknowledging the impact of the global pandemic on the high school careers of the Class of 2023, Parisi recounted how excitement for an unplanned school closure turned into “many, many months of unfamiliar isolation.”
Parisi’s reflections on the unique four years the Class of 2023 experienced during their time in high school inspired him to encourage the MTHS graduates to live each moment to its fullest.
“Roughly three years later I still find myself learning from the pandemic,” Parisi said. “For example, many of us, at one point or another believe that we can finally be happy once we reach a particular goal or a certain point in time. I find myself falling into this same trap. I often tell myself I will finally be happy once it is summer or I will finally be happy once my AP exams are over. But this begs the question, why can’t we just be happy now? This line of thinking undermines the present moment and delays your happiness. It causes people to fail to appreciate the things right before their eyes”
With the wisdom earned while navigating a formidable challenge, Parisi reminded his classmates: “Do not worry about the uncertainty of what the future holds. Instead, be grateful for the moment you’re in, right now, because at the end of the day life is too short to wish your days away and delay your happiness.”
The MTHS Class of 2023 graduated on Thursday, June 22, 2023. The ceremony was held outdoors in the MTHS Mustang Stadium. More than 275 graduates were in attendance.
The full transcript of Aaron Parisi’s MTHS graduation speech to the Class of 2023 is below:
“I am sure we can all recall the day we were sent home during the Covid-19 pandemic like it was yesterday. For me, I was in Mr. Ramirez’s ninth grade Spanish class, when I heard the announcement informing all students that we would be off for two weeks. Upon hearing the news, I remember the wave of excitement I felt. No school. No stress. No worrying. Yet, just like all of us, I underestimated the impact that Covid-19 would have on us, and could not predict that these two weeks would turn into many, many months of unfamiliar isolation.
While I won’t go on forever talking about the impact of this unexpected event, I know it would be unfair to talk about our high school experience without addressing it. I want all you, for a moment, to imagine yourselves back as freshmen hearing this announcement for the very first time. What was going on through your heads? Maybe you were excited, like me, that you no longer had to take that big math test or write that essay due on Monday. Or maybe you were disappointed that your sports season was canceled. Regardless of how each of us interpreted the situation, the life we once knew had been swept away from us. There was no more sprinting to the lunch line to beat the hoard of incoming students or seeing your friends in the hallways. You see, you never truly realize what you have until it’s gone. All of these daily occurrences that went unnoticed before school closed felt distant after we were sent home. But even before the two weeks were over, I already missed school, and I missed my classmates. I even missed Mr. Ramirez, which I never thought I would say. Don't worry, I’m just kidding Mr. Ramirez, your Dan Talks will always have a special place in my heart.
Now, roughly three years later I still find myself learning from the pandemic. For example, many of us, at one point or another believe that we can finally be happy once we reach a particular goal or a certain point in time. I find myself falling into this same trap. I often tell myself I will finally be happy once it is summer or I will finally be happy once my AP exams are over. But this begs the question, why can’t we just be happy now?
This line of thinking undermines the present moment and delays your happiness. It causes people to fail to appreciate the things right before their eyes. In the famous words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift… that’s why they call it the present.” Now, don’t just think why is this kid rambling on about the genius philosophies of Kung Fu Panda. Instead, really think about this quote and what this means in your life. While we are all heading toward vastly different paths, each with unique futures ahead of us, we can all learn from Master Oogway’s words. Starting right now, do not harp on any past experiences you have had. Do not worry about the uncertainty of what the future holds. Instead, be grateful for the moment you’re in, right now, because at the end of the day life is too short to wish your days away and delay your happiness.
So here we are. Sitting in our sweaty robes next to many people who we may never see again, listening to a ceremony that signifies an end to the life we have grown to know since kindergarten. Yet, even now your mind may be drifting from this moment to the lunch you enjoyed yesterday, your plans for tonight, or even that party that is down the line. For those of you in this category, bring yourself back to this moment. Never again will we sit together as a class. I for one wish that I could have one more moment as a high school student. I wish that I had appreciated all of the time at school even on my worst of days. But hindsight is 20/20 and there is no going back. Tomorrow is a new day. There will be no school. There will be no classes. There will be no rushing to the parking lot to beat the buses. Well, maybe that part is for the better though because while I firmly believe we are the best looking class Montville High School has ever seen, we are most certainly not the best driving class. For the first time this September, the schooling system that has connected us for all this time will no longer be a constant in our lives. This will be our first September with full autonomy, on the paths we have chosen. Now, make this path yours. Make each and every single moment count because before long these new and exciting moments will eventually fade into your past.
It’s finally time to appreciate the moments right in front of you, and stop letting factors outside of your control affect your ability to live in the moment. Enough time has flown by already. I ask you to experience life one day, one hour, one minute, one second, one moment at a time. And as you live for each and every moment, focus on aiming to be one percent better everyday and working your hardest to do the very best you can in any pursuit that you take on. Your effort and determination is completely in your hands. And if you happen to stumble along this journey, as we all do, leave that moment behind you. There is always a new moment to appreciate.
I urge you to hold your loved ones closer today, to find your teachers and friends and let them know how much you truly appreciate them. For me, that is my family, teachers, and friends who I am forever grateful for, and I especially want to take this opportunity to thank my parents. Hey mom. Hey Dad. I know I can be a lot at times but thank you for always being my biggest supporters. Your guidance and faith have given me the courage to take on any challenge or adventure that comes my way, and I appreciate the values that you both have instilled in me. I should probably take this opportunity to thank my brother as well… you’re alright, I guess. And to my grandma, who I love very much, thank you for always giving me invaluable advice and telling me to take my best foot forward. I want all of you to heed her advice. This means taking the knowledge we’ve gathered in high school and taking our best foot forward into our future pursuits. Think back to this day and remember that you have many more happy moments ahead and to keep making the most of every opportunity that is presented to you. It has been an honor to serve as your class president over these past four years, and I will cherish the moments we spent together forever. Thank you.”
The speech made by Aaron Parisi, President of the MTHS Class of 2023, can be viewed on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel.
Parisi attended the following Montville Township Public Schools: Cedar Hill Elementary, Robert R. Lazar Middle, and Montville Township High School.
The 52nd Annual MTHS Commencement Exercises were held outdoors on the field in the Mustang Stadium on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. Over 275 members of the Class of 2023 were honored that evening.
The MTHS Commencement Exercises were broadcast LIVE on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel and can be viewed at www.montville.net/mthsgraduation.