POLAND — Keynote speaker Richard Blanco told the Poland Regional High School Class of 2018 that life’s greatest challenge is in making decisions.

Blanco is the poet, public speaker, author and civil engineer who was the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration in 2013.

“No doubt you’ve faced many challenges in the last few years that you’ve met, challenges that have brought you to this milestone today,” Blanco said.

“There will be many other new challenges as you go out into the world. I think the biggest one, with everything you face, will be decisions and how you make those decisions.”

Blanco told the 106 graduates at the school’s 19th commencement that there will be many forks in the road and they might stand at those forks, frozen with fear and feeling like the rest of your life depends on those decisions.

“Here’s the good thing: It really doesn’t,” he said.


He quoted Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” and shared with the crowd that it does not really matter which road you take, so long as you keep going.

“It’s really about picking the road and going for it. Sometimes we make bad decisions, but we’ve got to keep going,” Blanco said. “The ideas is not to stand still, not be frozen at that fork.”

Valedictorian Samuel Stone echoed those sentiments, saying no one really knows what to expect going forward, but that is what makes it exciting.

He shared the story of losing his dad at 12 years old, and feeling stuck after. Eventually, he said, he realized that is not what his dad would have wanted.

“I decided to work harder than I ever had before,” Stone said. “I began to set a ton of goals for myself, and standing here speaking as valedictorian was my biggest one.” 

Poet Richard Blanco delivers the keynote address Sunday at Poland Regional High School’s graduation exercises. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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