After undergoing the most stressful, disturbing, and sorrowful months of their lives, the 748 graduating students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and their families had a rare moment to celebrate and enjoy themselves today at their commencement ceremony.
Adding to the joy that usually doesn’t have to compete with traumatic memories at a graduation, was the surprise appearance of a guest speaker, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, who unexpectedly turned up to give a commencement speech to the brave survivors of the year’s deadliest school shooting.
In a ceremony that included the awarding of posthumous diplomas to Nicholas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack and Carmen Schentrup, four of the students slain in the tragic massacre who would otherwise have joined their classmates at the graduation, Fallon took the stage to thank the students for their bravery and their subsequent refusal to accept the status quo in the gun regulations that failed to prevent the deaths of 17 students and educators in the shooting at their school.
“You are not just the future ― you are the present,” Fallon declared. “Keep changing the world. Keep making us proud.”
“The whole world has heard your voice,” he added.
Fallon had met some of the MSDHS students previously when he joined them at the March for Our Lives rally for gun regulation reform in Washington DC three months ago, one of the many activist events organized and inspired by the angry survivors of a needless killing spree.
In addition to praise and encouragement, the celebrity comedian offered some of his trademark humor to the assembled crowd as well, telling the graduates that they were transitioning to a life as “adults who Facebook search each other at 2 in the morning for the next 10 years.”
His primary message to the Parkland graduates was inspirational, telling them to “Choose to move forward. Don’t let anything stop you.”
Fallon posted a brief video of his greeting to the class on Twitter.
Congratulations Marjory Stoneman Douglas Class of 2018! You are not just the future – you are the present. Keep changing the world. Keep making us proud. #MSDStrong #YouAreThePresent pic.twitter.com/czvZwezKSt
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) June 3, 2018
This excerpt from Fallon’s own Twitter feed was so short that it’s fortunate that other attendees at the ceremony posted their own longer videos to the social media site.
While nothing can make up for the losses the students at this school have suffered, Fallon’s gracious decision to join them for their bittersweet celebration can only have made things better than they otherwise would be.
Even more exciting, however, is the anticipation of the announcement scheduled for tomorrow by the activist students who organized the original March For Our Lives. Some of the best-known students at the school teased the announcement on Twitter today.
Big announcement tomorrow stay tuned
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) June 3, 2018
Super big Announcment tomorrow 😉 prepare urselves y’all
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) June 3, 2018
— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) June 3, 2018
Stay tuned, indeed. You can be sure to read the details of their announcement as soon as they are available right here on Washington Press.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.