by Corinne Wnek
My career as a high school counselor provided me with the opportunity to attend many commencements, or graduations. It’s interesting to observe a whole range of emotions when ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ starts to play. I think this is because we think of commencement as an ‘end’. Some might be surprised to learn that ‘commencement’ really means a beginning.
This is worth remembering, especially for students who felt invisible among their classmates. The idea of ‘graduating’ means everybody gets a new beginning. Students should evaluate their past four years and decide what needs to change during the next stage of their life. It means that no one is a finished product at age eighteen, or in senior year or at graduation. Not even all those award winners.
That’s the irony of high school. You think you’re done, but you’re only just beginning. A good keynote speaker would say that to a class so that no one should rest on their laurels and no one loses hope for a better future. Graduation is a major milestone in life. It is a visible sign that society is achieving in the present and working toward the future.
So, graduates think about this: Are you ready to take the next step in your independence? Will you handle the responsibility that comes with your emerging adulthood? Will you handle money wisely? Can you prioritize your responsibilities? Have you set goals for yourself? Are you willing to try something new and not worry about failing at it?
Can you ask for help and say ‘thank you’ when you get it? Have you learned how to talk to people with a sincere interest in their life because you now understand that you are not the center of the universe? Can you appreciate differences in people, in their culture, their language, their age, their religion? Can you forgive when someone hurts you? Can you pick yourself up when you are feeling down because you know that everyone goes through rough times?
Parents, there is just one thing for you to remember as you celebrate your child’s graduation and it comes to us from the Chinese who believe the best gifts we could give our children are roots and wings; roots, for our children to always remember where they came from and all the people who helped them along the way, and wings, for the courage to find their destiny, wherever it may take them.
Congratulations on a new beginning to the families and students in the Class of 2013!
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