District Extra asked the D. C. Public Schools to provide copies of their commencement speeches. Cardozo, Duke Ellington and Dunbar high schools did so before the deadline. Here are excerpts from those speeches.

Lorena Harper,

Cardozo High School

We've definitely come a long way to be where we are today. We've made it through the bomb threats, fire alarms, trash can fires, fights, hallway shooting and the multiple mercury spills. We, the Class of 2005, have been through many changes and have learned many new things.

Our world is rapidly changing and even though we have come a long way, we still have even further to go. What's next is up to us . . . .

Are we ready to face that thing called reality which our parents and teachers have constantly warned us about? . . . I know everyone in the Class of 2005 isn't ready. But it's okay. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." . . . Next fall, when you step onto your college campus, begin your first day of work or travel the world, be confident in your abilities and intelligence. However, as you drive into your future, remember to check your rearview mirror every so often so you don't forget where you came from.

Avery Nielsen,

Duke Ellington School of the Arts

I would like to suggest a simple goal to my fellow graduates as we embark on our adult lives. Through my years at Duke Ellington I have learned that I only need to have one goal in life to help me stay focused on my pursuits. This goal that I speak of is by all means simple, yet essential. This goal is happiness. . . .

The human being is a masterpiece. The human mind and body run extremely well just from the basics in life: proper nourishment, a good night's sleep and shelter from the elements. This is all that was needed to keep early humans content. Today, technology has evolved faster than ourselves, giving us many more options -- maybe too many. Yet our bodies and minds remain the same, and really only the essentials are needed to enjoy life. . . .

I know it may be naive to think that in this complicated world we should only think of happiness. However, we must try to remember what truly makes us happy, as remembering that will aid us in staying in tune with our goals. . . . If we are happier, then we will enjoy our work more, and when we enjoy our work, we will achieve more.

Nancy Lee,

Dunbar High School

We are about to embark upon a new journey in life. For every ending, there is a new beginning. Now is the time to face the future with our heads held high, confident in the knowledge that we will make a difference in the world.

For us to do that, we must find our passion. Our high school experience -- the classes we took, doing homework, talking to friends, participating in extracurricular activities -- all this has helped us begin to discover ourselves, our interests and even our dislikes. Our experience at Dunbar has helped us to realize that there is more to life than what we know now. As William Shakespeare wrote, "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

According to David McCullough, "Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love." So ask yourself, "What inspires me? What do I love to do?" Find your passion, pursue it, and succeed in it. Then let your success enrich others and pave the road for their success.