It was both an honor and a pleasure to share the commencement address in Howe, Oklahoma, last night. Approximately 640 family members and friends gathered in the Howe gymnasium to celebrate the graduation of 38 high school seniors. Watching the “class history” video during the ceremony, I was reminded of Miranda Lambert’s song “Everybody Dies Famous in a Small town.” From kindergarten through 12th grade, every addition and loss to the graduating class was documented– with some people moving out of Howe and back into the district several times! The second video sequence that was shared included photos of each graduate from age five on up. Despite the fact that it was QUITE warm in the gym, it was great to celebrate with these students and families. High school graduation remains one of the most significant rites of passage for U.S. teens across our nation, and the ceremony in Howe was wonderful to witness.

I titled my commencement address “Write the Future.” Although the “live” webcast of the graduation ceremony was only a partial success, since the audio did not play through from the camera we were using for some reason, I was able to use iMovie and sync the Ustream recorded video with the mp3 audio recording I made of my speech using my iRiver T10. I’ve posted the twenty-two minute recording to Google Video and titled it, “Howe 2008: The Last Lecture.” Literally, this speech was “the last lecture” for these students, since my comments were all that stood between them and receiving their diplomas! They were a receptive and gracious audience, particularly given the fact that they were all QUITE warm in their graduation robes and hats, and I’m sure anxious to “get on with it” and receive their diplomas!

Many thanks to superintendent Scott Parks for the invitation to share this commencement address and Andrea Ford for her videography and Ustream recording assistance during the ceremony. Thanks also to Lance Ford and Tammy Parks for their hospitality and assistance in coordinating details for my participation in this event.

Good luck and Godspeed, Howe High School Class of 2008!

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4 Responses to Howe 2008: The Last Lecture

  1. Annelise says:

    Great speech. Enjoyed hearing it since I took a look at the presentation before your speech. I was glad to see you posted the audio to go along with it. Nice points that were very relevant to the student’s lives. How did the poll turn out?

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Well, the poll was not a success for some reason– I know of several people who definitely voted, but their votes did not show up for some reason… Not sure if they put in the wrong number for the votes, voted wrong, or if the votes were not sent through the local cell tower… my guess is their voting syntax as not correct… so maybe my directions were not clear enough? I actually forgot to ask to have the poll results pulled up later in the speech, so this worked out, but it would have been better if both 1) The votes had worked, and 2) I’d remembered to show the poll! This was my first time to try and use a SMS poll from polleverywhere with a group this large. In the past I’ve done this with groups of 20-30 educators in a workshop and it has worked fine. So I think the problem was with the presenter’s directions, rather than the technology!

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Grant Mudge left me some very helpful feedback on this presentation over on my links for 5-24-2008 page.

  4. Merle says:

    How inspiring Randy Pausch is! If you liked “The Last Lecture”, another fantastic memoir I just read and highly recommend is “My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Her TEDTalk video ( has been seen as many times as The Last Lecture I think, and Oprah did 4 shows on her book, so there are a lot of similarities. In My Stroke of Insight, there’s a happy ending though. It’s an incredible story! I hear they’re making it into a movie.

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