Today, I wandered around the high school gym, watching the seniors give presentations about their two-week internships. This tiny taste of professional life has really whet their appetites for the real deal; the eagerness and enthusiasm was palpable.
So many of these beaming faces are familiar to me…I’ve seen them at my dinner table and on the swing set. They’re the faces from preschool playdates, kickball and Girl Scout camp. The boys now have sideburns and strong jaw lines where chubby cheeks used to be; mascara and lip gloss adorn girls’ faces that once wore chocolate frosting during cooking projects. They’re so grown up. So ready!
They’re graduating on Sunday, and yet I feel just like the mom of a kindergartener who is bounding up the steps of the bus. I want to call, “Have fun! Do your best job! I’ll be right here when you get home…”
But that isn’t enough. I want to tell them just a few more things as they turn their tassels…
From the time you were in preschool until now, you have been steeped in small-town security. We live in a community that celebrates sameness. The seasons are punctuated by the very traditions that make our town unique…the Pumpkin Roll, the Lighting of the Green and Santa at Holly Hall, the Blossom Parade, Summer Concerts in Triangle Park. When you return to Chagrin Falls for Thanksgiving break, you will find it vastly unchanged.
And, when it comes to home, “unchanged” can be a very, very good thing. Home should provide consistency and comfort…a slower, predictable pace, with familiar faces and shared stories.
However, I don’t want YOU to be unchanged.
You’re going into new territory, with new people whose ideas and beliefs will be radically different from your own. You’ll be challenged to think about the world, and about your place in it. You’ll discover that finishing high school is, in fact, a profound starting point.
We’ve taught you well here in our little school district so that you’ll have the basic, essential skills you need as you move forward. You have worked so hard, and done well!You’ve learned how to read, add and subtract. You know about atoms and molecules and gravity. You can count money and make change. You discovered that pencil can be erased, but not markers.
I hope you will apply these skills at every opportunity…
Read…read people. Study them. Be interested and strive to understand them. Remember that the person next to you is more important than any text or tweet. And, best of all, learn to serve, because the best leaders serve humbly.
Add…Add friends. Add knowledge. Add a sense of humor.
Subtract… Subtract gossip and small-mindedness. Subtract busy-ness that creates stress. Learn to balance your life well.
Apply what you have learned about atoms and molecules and gravity. You can’t see these things, but you know they exist…”Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” You were created by a loving God for a purpose. Cultivate your faith. Rest in the knowledge that God knows every hair on your head and understands the desires of your heart.
Make change…not with money, but with your life. Endeavor to make a difference with your work, your relationships and your community.
Don’t forget your markers. Consider, as you embark on this next adventure, how you want to be remembered. Choose your words and actions carefully; they can’t be erased. With this in mind, use your talents wisely, and with kindness. Make your mark.
And finally…Do your best job. Have fun.
We’ll be right here when you get home.