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Tech Giants to Speak at Grad



It is hard to believe that the end of school is right around the corner. For the current seniors, this will be the end to their Pinewood career while the current eighth graders will just be beginning their high school experience. Dan Flanegan and Greg Porter have been chosen as the graduation speakers to inspire these individuals as they embark on their next stage in life.

Speakers are typically chosen through a committee made up of administrative and board members. For the eighth grade speaker, suggestions for candidates usually come from Director of Alumni Relations Michele Isaac or the board. The high school speaker is usually someone who has a connection to Pinewood and has been successful in any aspect of their life.

Eight grade graduation speaker Dan Flanegan was a 1990 Pinewood graduate and also an Evergreen. While at Pinewood, he was a prominent member of the speech and debate team. After graduating, Flanegan started several tech companies. His first company was founded off the vision of the future of texting. The platform’s goal was to help companies communicate with their customers. He also created an app called “Butter” that gives people the ability to create friendships and share experiences with others all around the world. Flanegan’s current company, “Supernice,” is building an online community of gamers interested in virtual reality games.

“I find myself attracted to new technologies. It gives you the opportunity to shape what the future is going to look like,” Flanegan said.

Flanegan’s message to the graduating eighth graders will focus on the importance of friendships because the people you choose to spend time with can largely impact your happiness and success. He believes all the relationships he built at Pinewood have shaped who he is today.

“What lasts are those connections with other people. Those friendships are very special,” Flanegan said.

Greg Porter, father of three Pinewood children and a husband of an alum, has been chosen as the high school graduation speaker. His wife has a strong connection to Pinewood since she was a member of the first graduating class of women. Porter was chosen not only because of his family connection to Pinewood, but also because of his successful career. Around 25 years ago, he founded a student information system called “PowerSchool,” similar in concept to Veracross. His program was so valuable that Apple Computers purchased it.

“His success story is really taking a leap of faith with starting his own company and persevering through it,” President Scott
Riches said.   

Riches hopes the students will be interested in his story since most of them have lived in Silicon Valley their whole lives. In addition to battle in the career aspect, Porter has also overcome some health challenges. Riches believes the students will be inspired by his faith and optimism throughout
the process.

“He has a lot of personality and I think he will give a compelling message and will really relate to the students too,” Riches said.