How do school administrators do it every year? Just how many different ways are there to wish out going seniors good luck, and what other last minute advice can you share that hasn’t already been used in a graduation speech? Having witnessed several such ceremonies over the past several years, such questions are likely to be perceived as trivial.
Most of us have our own experiences with school faculty, most of which likely dealt with impossible expectations with homework, unsuccessfully negotiating one’s way out of punishment for cutting class, and an overall cramping of one’s style. But, there are school administrators who have a genuine interest in each student who walks through the hallways. Unfortunately, many of us don’t see this until it’s time to leave.
Those students who earned the right to speak before the class learned well ahead of time that teachers are not the enemy. Mind you, we avoid using the term “gifted” to described these students. The operative word here is “earned.” They speak of the hard work and sacrifice of learning lessons and getting help. That each class and assignment is one more building block placed upon a foundation upon which a lifetime of professional and personal accolades will sit. And, the mindset of each and every student who is honored at the end of his or her high school career is similar.
The obstacles we often face are of our own devising. Yes, there are legitimate challenges that keep us all from obtaining our goals and the success we wish to achieve. But, most of us tend to lean too heavily on the wishing, and not enough on seeking help and taking steps towards those goals. Perhaps the common denominator for those who fail to push towards success is the fear of failure.
High school days were once full of fear. Fear of standing out, wearing the wrong clothes, saying the wrong things, liking the wrong bands, failing out of class, or that ungodly pimple. Fear stifles us whether we are walking into our teen years or 25 years into a professional career. We’re afraid to stand up in front of class. We’re afraid to go after that promotion. We dare not think to stop and change careers. We stay within our circle of peers, look out at those who have succeeded and label them as gifted.
To fail at any one task means the effort has stopped. To fall down and stay down is the definition of failure. To pick yourself up and try again, is another attempt towards success. At these graduation ceremonies, one often speaks of Thomas Edison and his light bulb and it is true. Edison wasn’t gifted with the knowledge of a working light bulb. He tried and ultimately found the answer. Somewhere in between there were hundreds of events one would each call a failure. But, that’s not how we see Edison today.
Keep pushing past those obstacles, Class of 2017. And, remember to do your homework.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.