The People We Know How to Be: My Prospective Graduation Speech


Hi folks, I’m Patrick Foos, a senior in the class of 2022. The following is a speech I wrote for graduation. Though I was not selected as the speaker, the speech remains a message that I think is worth sharing.

Throughout my time at Robinson, I’ve always looked up to the best among us. I watched my section leader in the marching band lead our motley crew through thick and thin on the field. I watched athletes in gym class run 108 laps on the pacer test before the teachers got tired of watching them run and turned off the test. I’ve met state champions, and been a district champ myself. There have always been people to pay attention to, people to be amazed by. Many of those people are in this room. When people are doing what they’re good at, what they love to do, and doing that work to the best of their ability these students are the people they know how to be. When the best alto saxophone player in the state, Bridget Sheridan, plays her sax, she’s being the person she knows how to be. When Melanie Walker, girls golf state champion steps onto the green, she’s being the person she knows how to be. When James W. Robinson staggered through enemy machine gun fire, giving his life to destroy an enemy machine gun with just two hand grenades, he was being the person he knew how to be.

There’s power in being the person you know how to be, not pretending, not hiding, not stooping to be less than what you are. Sometimes being that person means standing up for what you believe, sometimes it’s just working that five extra minutes to get the job done. Being that person is doing work that you love, the work that you’re great at, and doing that work exceptionally. The person you know how to be is exceptional! Working hard is great, working smart might even be greater, but it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how smart you are if you aren’t working with a love of the craft, whether your craft builds with people, things, or abstract concepts. Excellence matters. It matters to take meaning from your work. The people we know how to be, the people our time at Robinson has taught us to be, are hard workers. We take the toughest situation, the most novel problem, and turn it into an opportunity to grow, a place to improve. We relish the challenge, and savor success. 

Our time at Robinson has taught us to be extraordinary, and to accept nothing less than our best in everything we do. The people we’ve become are resilient, innovative, and accountable. The Ram Values, whether we like it or not, are intrinsic parts of the best people that we can be, the people we’ve learned, and are learning, how to be. In our tenure at Robinson, we’ve faced everything, from the largest disruption to education in living memory, to a seemingly endless flow of standardized tests. Through it all, we’ve come out on top. Look at us! Here we are, standing on this stage, sitting in those seats, marking the end of our time in high school, and the beginning of the rest of our lives. 

The future is bright for us, the class of 2022. We live in the best time ever to be alive, and I have no doubt that together we’ll make the world an even better place. As we go into our future we’ll learn new things, make new friends, and build new relationships, but we won’t forget, shortchange, or deny the importance of our time at Robinson. Most of us, myself included, don’t know the exact details of the people we want to be, but what I do know is that going into the future, into college and into life, the memories, skills, and bonds we’ve built at Robinson will not only help us to become the people we want to be, but also to be the people we know how to be. Thank You and Go Rams!