A Welcome from Edward Kuperman

Welcome to the members of our Senior Class and each of our families that make up our larger Senior Family, as we come together and celebrate our academic, athletic, community and spiritual achievements—not simply on an individual level, but as the finely oiled machine assembled through years of after-school study groups in the Gries, Starbucks or Panera; group projects and national history day papers; sports matches and debate practices, volunteer, chess or diversity clubs; and the simple friendships that have made our emotional growth into the fine young adults graduating today all, possible.

      While, to some extent, we are all celebrating today individually, looking back with bittersweetness at our own successes and failures and the unique personalities who made our Berkeley experience so impactful and enduring, we are more so celebrating as a group, recognizing the wonderful, ineffable spirit that animates the Class of 2020. We are truly a unique class, lifted up by a burning passion that fills us, whether performing off-campus summer research or setting new PRs on the track field. This class is focused, eager and caring—we’ve been around from the 2016 national election to 2020, dealing with issues of climate change, diversity and international instability with a steadfast love, confidence and steadiness that gives me hope for the future of our planet.

      We have also been the leaders in the Berkeley community dealing with coronavirus, finding new ways to stay in touch and becoming stronger together while also dealing with college admissions and the culmination of academic studies, including alternative assessments, AP exams, and global scholars projects. But I will not dwell on this point, because the Class of 2020 can’t be defined by a single event or experience, not after we have come so far and discovered so much. As we continue our journey, many of us will be on the front lines handling current and future global crises. But the strength of our Berkeley experience is that in responding, we will do so out of a practiced technique of disciplined understanding and consideration based on a broad liberal education—rather than from a reactionary position of fear or pressure when faced with the unknown.

      If there is one idea I want us to take away from this graduation moment, it is that we, the Class of 2020, are more than a grade. We are a community, a group of friends and more than that—a family. What we’ve been able to do in these four years together has been incredible and transformative, and it’s only the beginning. Knowing that we will now have friends from California to Michigan to Abu Dhabi to China doesn’t fill me with sadness but rather excitement about the unfolding possibilities for our future endeavors. This moment should feel emotional—if this phase of our life, that is now drawing to a close, weren’t so fundamental to who we are, we wouldn’t all be so invested in celebrating it. But while I will miss these high schools years, I am primarily thankful I was lucky enough to spend them with all of you.

      We will never be high school seniors again, but we will always be the Class of 2020, and we will always be Berkeley Buccaneers. We have all learned what it means to carry ourselves with dignity, diligence and integrity—and while we will never stop learning, I am confident in saying our foundation is rock-solid. When we travel off to college and move beyond, no matter where we travel to, we will always be able to look back on our high school experiences. We will recall that as seniors we had the strength to forge onward while remembering the challenges we’ve overcome and the spirit we had at our moment of graduation. We can be fully confident that we will take on and change the world.

Once again, thank you all for coming today—and for being here during all the moments leading up to this final celebration. This day truly does not mark an ending, but rather the beginning of our next great journey. Remember these feelings, and please never forget the life-changing moments of our high-school years. I hope you enjoy the rest of our ceremony today.