Late night host Jimmy Fallon was a surprise speaker at the graduation ceremonies this Sunday for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Parkland, Florida school that spawned a new generation of gun control activists after enduring a shooting earlier this year. Fallon has been openly in awe of the Parkland students since the beginning: On his first full show after the shooting, the generally-apolitical host singled them out for praise and announced that he would be marching with them:
I think what the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are doing is unbelievable. They’re speaking out with more guts, passion, conviction, and common sense than most adults. They’re high school students—it’s beyond impressive. That strength that they have, it’s inspiring. They are angry, and they’re doing something about it and creating change. This is a real revolution.
At the graduation ceremony, which was closed to the press, Fallon mixed humor with traditional graduation advice, telling the assembled students that they were no longer classmates, but “adults who’ll Facebook search each other at two in the morning for the next ten years.” Fallon went on to thank the students for their courage, which is not typical for graduation speeches, but seems appropriate in this case:
On Twitter, Fallon acknowledged the irony of giving advice to teenagers who have already revolutionized the conversation about gun control, writing, “You are not just the future—you are the present.”
It’s strange for a high school graduation to attract a national figure like Fallon, and stranger still for the graduating students to be the most accomplished people in the room. But until we can get our nation’s children through high school without being murdered, the most important people at every graduation ceremony will be the kids and teachers who never get to be in the room at all.