Tester to Montana’s High School Graduates: “Plant your roots deep…and reach for the sky”

Senator congratulates graduating high school senior class of 2020 in online commencement address

As high school seniors across the Treasure State participate in online graduation ceremonies, U.S. Senator Jon Tester donned his cap and gown to address the Class of 2020 and offer some advice:

“Whatever you do next…you’ve got to keep learning. You’ve got to keep exposing yourself to new ways of thinking and doing things, after all, the world won’t ever stop changing and neither should you,” said Tester. “So keep an open mind, and listen to others who come from different backgrounds or have different experiences than you, because that’s what separates good leaders from great leaders. And I have no doubt in my mind that the lot of you will be great leaders.”

With many schools forced to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high schools across Montana are hosting online commencement ceremonies to celebrate students’ achievements while social distancing. Tester—a former educator and school board member—highlighted the unique challenges that graduates will face, offering a message of hope and resilience in the face of uncertainty:

“The world today is a whole lot different than it was when I graduated from Big Sandy High School—quite frankly it’s a whole lot different than the world we knew three months ago—but with any big change comes an entirely new set of challenges,” said Tester. “…Take it from an old farmer, there are a lot of things in life that you can’t control…So plant your roots deep, take care of each other, and reach for the sky. With some hard work and flexibility, you can change the world for the better.”

Tester has been fighting tooth and nail to ensure Montana students have the resources they need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, he demanded that Congress prioritize public education aid in any new coronavirus relief packages, and he secured nearly $100,000 to help Montana libraries provide online services to students. He also announced more than $41 million for Montana K-12 schools to help meet the needs of students as they transition to online learning last month, and he recently announced that the Montana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund would receive more than $8.7 million in funding to bolster education in the state.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.