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Haney offers take on speaking at graduation

Three-time graduation speaker considers messages from his family and hopes for the future while he prepares.
Mr.+Kevin+Haney+speaks+during+the+2019+graduation+at+Neumann+University.
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Mr. Kevin Haney speaks during the 2019 graduation at Neumann University.

At the Strath Haven graduations of 2005, 2013, and 2019, English teacher Mr. Kevin Haney spoke on behalf of the respective graduating classes. 

Seniors vote on the faculty graduation speaker each year. Haney has been elected three times to face the challenging job of encapsulating each class in the best way possible.

“I’ve been at Strath Haven for 22 years, so this will be my 22nd graduation this year. To be honest with you, as much as it’s supposed to be celebratory, it’s actually kind of sad,” he said. “You know, you work with kids for the better part of four years, and you’re excited for them to go off and do these wonderful things at school and work and maybe military, but it’s sad to see them go and you hope that they want to stay in touch over the years.”

The first time Haney was the graduation speaker was 2005, when he was relatively new to the school.

“As honored as I was, I was terrified, you know, to be able to deliver a final message of sorts to a graduating class,” he said. “I kind of felt unworthy of the honor, because there were so many amazing teachers here. But I did my best to do what I’ve been taught by my parents. And that is to be authentically me and try to send a final message that would be a lasting message.”

Haney believes in the power of kindness, and that is a message—whether at graduation or in the classroom —he wants students to remember.

“Empathy for the world really matters,” he said. “And, you know, of course, I hope they can know where to put a comma, and understand Shakespeare a little bit better, no question. But to be able to use what I teach as a tool to help spread kindness really matters to me. I hope they take that with them…You can tell people to be kind all you want. But if you’re not kind yourself, no one’s going to pick up on the message,” Haney said.

Each year that he speaks, Haney tries to ensure that each class is well-represented in his speech. He understands that he is speaking on behalf of not just himself, but all of the teachers that have watched students grow up over the course of four years. 

Initially, he was having some difficulty with the 2019 speech, but in the end, he was able to implement his message into the speech in a unique way. 

“I said, you know, if I can go back and tell my old self, my 18-year-old self, who was wearing a cap and gown, if I can tell him something, what would it be?” Haney said. “And that’s how the 2019 speech started, which was a message of spreading love in the world…really about changing the orbit of your own existence, as opposed to this magnanimous thing of changing the world.” 

Mr. Haney wants the Strath Haven community to understand his appreciation towards being not just a three-time graduation speaker, but simply a teacher. 

“22 years of teaching here has been an honor, my privilege, and I’ve always said that I hope to teach here a whole lot longer.” Haney said. “I moved my family here for a reason. I really want my three kids to be all of you. I want them to be Strath Haven kids because Strath Haven kids have just been extraordinary over the years, from the musical talents, to what they do in the classroom, [and] athletics.”

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Ho '26, Managing Editor of Web
Kaitlyn Ho is the current managing editor of web and the health and sciences editor of The Panther Press. Her first article was on the German Exchange Students. There was no turning back after that. She loves to learn about communicating complex science in simple ways, reading, dancing, artificial intelligence, and playing (badly) the piano and cello. Her future self can confirm that she will laugh at and enjoy every single thing her past self wrote.
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