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Eva Zlimen: Change is coming, and we need to be a part of it

Other Voices
Eva Zlimen

As the class of 2020, we thought we had a pretty clear vision for our senior year. But we still didn’t see this crazy end of the year coming. Who knew we’d be able to skip school for almost three months and still graduate?

Usually, senioritis makes meeting that fourth quarter attendance requirement a challenge. This year, we wanted to get back in the classroom.

However, this wasn’t just a fun break from school. The transition to distance learning was incredibly challenging, and required us to completely change our learning process and stay positive in the face of disappointment. I want to thank all of the teachers and staff that worked tirelessly to ease this transition and implement an entirely new way of learning as well as the parents and family members that supported us not just in this unprecedented situation, but during our entire high school career.

Most importantly, I want to congratulate the senior class for sticking with this transition and staying driven until the end. Learning at home, surrounded by distractions, requires being self-motivated and resourceful. But, we made it.

Not only are we resilient, but, because we grew up in a small town, we know the importance of community.

Our generation receives a lot of criticism for our seeming reliance on technology. However, our successful transition to distance learning proves what we already knew all along: we are incredibly adaptable. We were able to succeed in spite of an entire shift in our system of learning. Growing up in an era of great advancement, with ever-changing technology and new inventions, has given us unprecedented flexibility. Not only are we resilient, but, because we grew up in a small town, we know the importance of community. Everyone seems to know each other, and we can see just how connected we all are. Acting collectively is our best shot to succeed, and it is this sense of unity that brings us strength and comfort in times of hardship. Together, we have overcome adversity and been encouraged by the achievements of friends like Ryan Bodine, whose journey to recovery inspires us.

We are at a turning point. How we choose to come out of this pandemic will redefine not only our generation, but our entire worldview. This is a time to reimagine our world for the better. Now is when we can make a change. Our society is constantly evolving. We are by no means out of the current health crisis, and we may find our lives forever altered. Now is the time to decide what is important to us, and what changes we need in our world. We can come out of this crisis stronger for it, restructuring the status quo. We are a politically active class. I know many of us were already skipping school and attending protests over the years.

Change is coming, and we need to be a part of it. I know that we are strong enough, smart enough, driven enough, and loud enough to make an impact. Our class has accomplished so much over these four years, and I know that our desire to succeed will carry us forward. What will be crucial is our ability to transfer the skills we have learned here and apply them to secure our future.

Over the years, we have grown familiar with seeing Mr. Slavonic speed walking around campus, adjusted to Ms. Stroeve’s ever-changing desk arrangements, looked forward to waffle days in Mr. Mayer’s class, and realized that the cat we’d heard earlier was actually just Mr. Baker.

As we head off into what lies ahead, I think we could all benefit from Ms. Starr’s loving reminder one last time: “Make good choices.”

Eva Zlimen, Nevada Union High School valedictorian, presented this commencement speech to her fellow graduates in the Class of 2020.


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