Jimmy Fallon Surprises Parkland High School Students at Their Graduation
By Paige Gawley
The graduating class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had a major celebrity at their commencement on Sunday.
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon showed up to the school's graduation ceremony and delivered a passionate speech about inspiration, pride and moving forward. On Valentine's Day, 14 students and three adults were killed during a school shooting. Since the tragedy, many students at the high school have become activists and outspoken advocates for gun control.
"When you think of commencement speakers, you think of people who are inspirational. People who are eloquent, people who have changed the world," Fallon, 43, began. "When you think of high school students, you think of people who are a little immature, slightly awkward, still learning too be an adult. Welcome to opposite day."
While the late-night personality's speech was all about changing the world, it didn't stop him from cracking a few jokes.
"Today you're graduating from high school. You should feel incredibly proud of yourselves. That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels -- or your yannies," Fallon quipped. "Some of you will grow up to hear yanny, some of you will grow up to hear laurel, but the most important thing to know is that neither of these things will matter by the end of the summer."
Fallon called the students, specifically those who organized and spoke at The March For Our Lives in Washington D.C., "what hope and light looks like."
"Every bad experience can have something good that comes out of it. Sometimes things that seem like setbacks can take our lives in totally new directions, can change us in ways we don't expect. And make us better, and stronger. You guys have already proved that to everyone," he said in praise of the student body. "You took something horrific and instead of letting it sop you, you started a movement. Not just here in Florida, not just in America, but throughout the whole world. The whole world has heard your voice -- and that was you making a choice. That was you choosing to take something awful and using it to create change. That was you choosing hope over fear."
The Saturday Night Live alum encouraged the graduates to "hear other voices" and to "be kind, and think ahead, and have courage."
"Try new things. Remember the past, but don't stay there," he continued. "Honor your fellow humans. Keep laughing. Celebrate anything you can, as often as you can, because it's fun."
Fallon added, "Write letters and send them with a stamp in a mailbox. Try that. Say hello to people. Smile more often. Be kind to people who wait on your table, or bag your groceries, or move your furniture. And when you dance, dance from the inside."
The funnyman saved his most important piece of advice for the end. "If I can give you one last piece of advice, it would be this: Don't ever get off your parents' wireless plan," he quipped. "Ride that train as long as possible 'cause you have no idea how expensive data is."
On a serious note, Fallon concluded the speech by telling the graduates, "You're not the future, you're the present. You are the present. You are succeeding. You are making us proud. You are changing the world, so keep changing the world and keep making us proud."
Fallon's remarks seemed to spark the right notes with the crowd in Parkland. "One parent texted us, 'He's making me cry and laugh,'" journalist Dianne Gallagher tweeted.