On to the Next (Lonely) Mountain

a commencement address


Donald Faccone delivered this commencement address at the graduation ceremony on May 14, 2022.

Before I begin, I just want to mention that when I found out it was supposed to rain today, I thought to myself, as one of our famous gym teachers likes to say, “Are you kidding me?” but in all seriousness, I’d like to start off by thanking all the parents for pushing us through the last four years, the teachers for preparing us for the future, and my fellow classmates for making this journey as exciting as possible. Our four years were certainly unique, with the past two and a half being nothing we’ve ever experienced before. In fact, going through high school is like the journey of The Hobbit.

The Hobbit himself, Bilbo, is just like every other Hobbit: Short, plump, eats six meals a day, and in many ways, that’s how we are as incoming freshmen. Not in that sense exactly, but we are fresh out of middle school and have yet to be strengthened by our high school journey. We certainly weren’t “battle ready”; Bilbo almost got eaten by trolls and many of us got our first C, so Bilbo may have had it easy compared to what we went through, but still, we both faced challenges we had never experienced before.

Nevertheless, we pressed forward through high school, just like Bilbo fights his way to the Lonely Mountain. He learns new tricks and abilities, and we learn new formulas and vocabulary. Through sophomore and junior year, we find out what subjects we like, what disciplines we’re good at, and what extracurriculars we’d like to pursue. Some of us may have found strengths in math, english, or science, and I found I didn’t have a strength in going for the ball, when I let a loose ball roll past me because I thought was going out and Mr.Simak very gently and politely reminded me I should dive for the ball.

But in comes senior year, and like us, Bilbo is on the final stretch. All that stands between him and the gold is the dreaded evil dragon, Smaug. We all have our own dragons to slay, and senior year is the time we face our biggest dragon yet: deciding our future. For some of us, the gold under the mountain is college academics, college sports, a job, and so on. No matter how uncertain he may have been, Bilbo found a secret passage to the mountain, and he secured the gold with the dwarves. And so have all of us, we may have had our doubts, but we used our growth throughout high school to fight our fears, and here we are, with whatever gold we’ve worked for under the mountain. To me, gold was beating Huntley in our basketball reserve game. Huntley has always been our arch-nemesis, and I remember telling my teammates, “Let’s just go out there and absolutely dominate them” and we went out there, we gave it our all, and we left it all on the floor, and proceeded to lose by 45 points, so there’s my gold under the mountain. 

Now, using The Hobbit to describe high school may have seemed weird at first, but I’d like to think my examples made this metaphor crystal clear. We all have grown throughout high school, and are in prime position to accomplish great things. So, my message is this: if you put your head down, work hard, and learn from failure, you can be like Bilbo and slay a dragon, or you can be like me and lose to Huntley by 45 points.  No that’s not it, the true moral of the story is that we grew a lot over the past four years, and we’ve conquered our biggest challenges yet. Life might be tricky, but we’ve left our hobbit hole, escaped the Misty Mountain, stuck together with our friends, slayed our dragon, and found our gold, so whatever life throws at us, I know we’ll all be ready. Best of luck to all of you with whatever mountain you seek to claim next, and thanks to everyone who helped on our journey.