The Commencement — A One-Act Play

Jim LaBate
7 min readJun 30, 2022
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

ANN: Good morning, parents, teachers, and friends. As a representative of the senior class, I would like to thank you all for being with us on this very special day. For we know that without your help and concern, this day would not be possible, and, therefore, it is only fitting that you share it with us. It is your day as well as ours.

NARRATOR: The introduction to Ann’s valedictory was very much like all the others that would be delivered this day across the country and like all those that have been delivered in the past. But, in a way, too, it was different and as unique as the girl who delivered it. For in her salutation, she did not specifically mention the invited speaker or the distinguished guests. They would simply be referred to as “friends” and could not expect to be placed on the same level with those people who had given so much of their time and effort in preparation for this day. To Ann, her parents and teachers were the distinguished guests, and she was as proud of them as they were of her.

ANN: As graduating seniors, we have reached another step on the stairway of life. Before we begin to climb even higher, however, I think it is necessary to stop and look back at the steps we have climbed thus far. We must go back to the very beginning, before we could even stand or crawl on our own. For it was here that our parents protected us and guided us as we made our first tentative movements. They were there to encourage us, and they were there to pick us up when we stumbled. They were there all along, they are here today, and I’m sure they will be with us in the future. We could not have survived without them. For all this, dear parents, we thank you.

NARRATOR: Ann truly loved her parents, and she knew she owed everything to them. Her father worked in a shirt factory his entire life, and his only happiness was his family and the joy of watching his little girl grow. Her mother stayed at home, took care of the house, and did the neighbor’s wash, so Ann could have little extras. Ann’s parents never had nice clothes, but Ann did. They couldn’t play the piano, but their daughter could play. And they never graduated from high school, but Ann was a valedictorian.

ANN: Once we mastered the art of crawling, we were ready to stand, and our parents sent us off to school. Here, our teachers…

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Jim LaBate

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.