The 682 members of the Greenwich High School class of 2022, along with their friends and family enjoyed a mild evening for graduation in the recently upgraded Cardinal stadium, with new scoreboard, rest rooms, concession stand and entry kiosk.
The commencement speaker was Bill Owens, executive producer of 60 Minutes, which is about to enter its 55th season and is the most watched TV news show in the nation’s history.
Owens recalled that one of his children graduated GHS during the pandemic in 2020, the year of the six-minute drive through ceremony, and another who graduated in 2021 in the practice fields on the other end of campus.
“Your generation deserves blue skies and a lot of credit,” Owens said. “You should be very proud of everything you’ve endured. And I want to make a prediction, that by going through all of this, putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out, and all the other stresses that you deal with, you’ve set yourself up for success in life like few generations have before you. I really mean that.”
“As we come out the other side of this mess, I think you are going to realize that you have developed something commonly known as grit,” he continued. “Grit, according to the Oxford Dictionary is courage, resolve, strength and character. Each of your yearbook pictures could be next to that definition from the dictionary.”
Owens said that when he graduated high school, he was firmly in the bottom half of his graduating class, and heading to a state college that few people had heard of. He said he was unsure how he’d pay his tuition and didn’t know what he wanted to study.
Sharing some advice with the graduates, he said, “Take a moment and figure out what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in, and then look for opportunities where those things might intersect.”
Owens went on to talk about the value of hard work.
“Work hard,” he said. “Everyone has the capacity to do it. Not everyone does.”
He described how when he started at the CBS news desk with other hires who had graduated from Ivy League schools or had graduate degrees, he made a quiet promise to himself that he would work harder than all of them.
“My hand was up for every extra shift: weekends, holidays, it didn’t matter. I wanted to learn and get as much experience as I could, faster than anybody else. I built confidence along the way.”
He also emphasized the value of having mentors.
“Whether you’re thinking about becoming a carpenter, chef or chemical engineer, listen to the people who have been there before you who are training you,” he said.
Finally, Owens implored the graduates to read.
“Read anything,” he said. “Keep yourself informed and educated. Don’t only read things you agree with. Also read for fun. The more you know about stuff, all kinds of stuff, the easier it is to talk to people.”