2023 Senior Address by Luke Ryan Byrd

Graduates, Families, and Friends,
I stand here, as a fellow grad, looking at you, and I am in awe. We’ve come from so many places, so many cultures, and accomplished so much.

We arrived at homeschooling through various paths. Whether we are here for reasons of faith, academics, values, or flexibility – or some combination therein – we all took our education seriously. And it shows.

Whatever our differences are, we have so many important things in common. We worked through similar academic challenges. We learned to ask the big question and ponder the unknown. We appreciated the freedom to pursue our passions. Those things brought us together today, and will remain with us throughout life.

Today, we have in common, graduation. We know in English what it means, but it is a word richly rooted in Latin. It comes from gradus.

There are two definitions for gradus. One definition is “step.” The other is “go.”

We’re doing both today. We are stepping, and we are going. Where are we going? It starts with knowing where we’ve been.

Homeschooling has been a full-bodied adventure. We have learned more than the usual topics, like math, science, and the language arts. We also learned about life — kindness, perseverance, and independence.

We can be kind anywhere. We can be perseverant through any challenge. And we can do thosethings independently.

Now, let’s go – to the less obvious places. Let’s see the world as best as we can, exploring and discovering as we go. Let’s meet people who think differently, listening and sharing as we engage. It might feel awkward to face the unfamiliar, but we’ll grow and adapt. We will simultaneously expand our ideas and find appreciation for our heritage.

We need to ask the hard question, “What do I have to give?” It’s OK not to know. Keep asking.

Give in ways that you don’t expect something back.

Volunteer to play children’s songs for kids at a hospital cancer wing. Use your math skills to help someone with their taxes. And if you are an excellent cook — invite me over!

Seriously, giving and receiving doesn’t involve a balance sheet. Give generously. Receive graciously. Don’t keep an account of either. Build relationships in the process.

You’ve heard, “the world is our oyster.” When divers are getting those oysters… Did you knowshallow dives — some 5 to 7 feet — that’s where a few oysters are found with ordinary pearls.

If you want the good stuff, you’ve got to dive deeper. That’s 40 to 125 feet. That’s the most dangerous sort of dive. Amazing oysters abound. And the most precious pearls.

You know where I’m going with this — it is a metaphor for life.

Easy relationships can be found in the shallows. The good stuff, the most precious ones, require a deep dive. Risk personal comfort. Invest your heart and time. That’s the way to find the best relationships of the greatest value.

Homeschooling has instilled in each of us the ability to learn, to adapt, and to grow. We know how to learn both independently and cooperatively. We’ve got the tools and experience. Let’s build on that as we enjoy today and our futures.

Whatever we do next, we can succeed. We can improve the world in big and small ways. And we will bring the best of what we’ve learned into our future.

Thank you to our parents who gave so much so that we could have the best learning possible.

And… Congratulations fellow Class of 2023! Let’s go do something amazing.

Thank you.
Luke Byrd
Class of 2023
Washington Homeschool Organization