June 12, 2013
Justice Terrence O'Donnell Serves as 2013 ECOT Commencement Speaker

At a June 9 commencement ceremony for the ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow), Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell told the largest high school graduating class in the nation that they should be thankful for the country they live in and the sacrifices made by the Founding Fathers.

Based in Columbus with more than 15,000 students, ECOT was started in 2000 by Bill Lager and has become the largest online school in the country.  Along with Justice O’Donnell this year’s commencement also included several speeches by students.

 “As we gather this afternoon to recognize all those who have achieved so much against, in some cases insurmountable odds,” Justice O’Donnell began, “I am reminded of the gifts our founding fathers gave us to enable a day like this to take place.”  He continued to talk of the past, and how many different people, like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Abraham Lincoln, have made it possible for the students to graduate today in a country like this.

“My friends, we live in the greatest country in the world.  It’s the reason our borders are breached.  It’s the reason why we have difficulty with immigration issues.”  He continued.  “People from around the world yearn to have what we enjoy.”

The speech then went from the past to the present and future.  Justice O’Donnell pointed out that the students graduating were born in the time of the internet, saying “…we have three year olds who can find videos on YouTube as we all just Google whatever it is we need to know.”  He then urged the graduates to “Imagine the future you are graduating into!”

He ended the speech by advising the students to follow their passions, apply themselves, and “change the paradigm.”  Finally, he concluded with this thought: “Yours is a generation filled with hope and optimism.  You will do well; have confidence in yourselves.  You are a special class from a special generation.”

Justice Terrence O’Donnell has been a judge since 1980 and has been at the Ohio Supreme Court since 2003.  He previously served on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and the Eighth District Court of Appeals.

For a high-resolution, publication-quality photo of Justice O'Donnell, visit: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/PIO/news/images/justices/odonnell_highres.zip.

Contact:  Chris Davey or Bret Crow at 614.387.9250.