This post is dedicated to the class of 2014 graduates, their parents, and our staff.
Mark Schroeder, Director of College and Career Readiness sends out a word of the day each morning. If he had to send out a few words today, I think it would be the words that so many of us have been using all day. Love. Inspire. Blessing.
I must start by paraphrasing Ben Norton, valedictorian of Texas High School’s class of 2014. Ben encouraged every graduate to find a career that he or she would love, work hard at it, and be sure that it in some way helps other people. Ben gave the best valedictory speech I’ve ever heard. His speech was encouraging and humble. Ben spent more time praising his classmates than he did acknowledging his own accomplishments. And it was such a funny speech! Every single person in the church was inspired. You can always feel when a room is inspired. There’s an energy and buzz in it.
Kristen Hall, salutatorian, was awesome as well. It was the best salutatory speech I’ve EVER heard. She was poised, encouraging, and appreciative of all that has been done for her by the staff at Texas High. I shouldn’t start listing adjectives to describe Kristen because none of them would give you an idea about the profound impact she has had on my life and the lives of others. What a classy lady she is! I am honored that she acknowledged me in her speech.
Graduates, do you know that every time you wrote one of those senior letters, you helped a teacher or administrator finish the day and come back energized? Every time you thanked a teacher or administrator today, you made that person feel like what we do IS appreciated. You speak about how we inspire you, but you inspire US. You say you love us, but oh, how we love YOU. You say you were blessed to have us as teachers, but we were blessed to have YOU as students. You taught us just as much as we taught you.
On behalf of all teachers, thanks for the hugs, visits, gifts, kind words, and letters this week. Marissa, Vernicia, Jordan, Josh, Aimee, and Cortlandt, thank you for honoring me. Thank you Lincoln, Josh E., Ashton, Brennan, Aaron, and Jordan for the letters.
Here’s what you all have taught me. It’s not about the mountain of tasks that await. It’s about the next task. It’s not about all the days you have to go. It’s about the next day. As long as we keep moving and keep working, we’re accomplishing something, aren’t we? My dears, I say we are. Keep that in mind as you go forward. It’s about the next math test, the next essay, the next week of boot camp, the next task or class. Then, you should look back at all of that and smile. Remember to speak to people. Smile at people. Help someone to do what you find easy. These are the things you owe the world. The world owes you nothing. It’s your job to make it better.
Your graduation was awesome. Ben Norton quoted Drake. Madison Norton led us in the school song. Mr. Bailey quoted Katy Perry??? Yes, that happened. :-)
In closing, I want to share one of my amazing senior letters. It represents all the senior letters that were delivered this week. Jordan Stovall gave me permission to use it. I think there’s a message in it for us all.
“Dear Mrs. Washington,
Very rarely does one, though not through lack of trying, find such a vast source of inspiration as I have found in your classroom. Very rarely does one meet another person who has such an important and immense role in the formation of one’s identity as you have had in mine. A few words that describe my experience in your class: life-changing, exciting, thought-provoking, and inspiring. It is through your class that I, who was once direly and drastically weary with the world, have found a certain hope, a new meaning in my life. It is through your class that I gained the ability to shrug off the wrongs in the world in pursuit of lighter ideals. For you, Mrs. Washington, taught me about writing. Literature, writing, is a reflection into the various truths of humanity.
It is these truths, these constants, these lessons in life that you have taught me that I value above all else. Like Edna Pontellier, (The Awakening) I must find my own way in life now before I come to regret it, and find happiness in myself apart from others. Like Jay Gatsby, (The Great Gatsby) I must pursue a vision of the world as it should be, and value and chase ideals and love. Like John Proctor, (The Crucible) I must stand as a beholder of truth, never succumbing to the pressures and trials that tempt us into deceit. Like Hester Prynne, (The Scarlet Letter) I must look inside myself to realize and cherish the values that I would embody and protect, and discount those outside forces who would have me change my being to please them.
These lessons, all of which I learned through your class, have become the foundation of my personal identity.”
His letter goes on… :-) Here’s our picture.
So grads, I want you to know that TISD loves you. Get out there and make people know you for the good you do.
Love everyone. Inspire someone. Be a blessing to the world… “til day is done.” Then, wake up, and do it again.