Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Graduation Time

June 6, 2018

Well, my friends—it’s almost time.  The night where you get to celebrate all that you have achieved is just around the corner.  I am so proud of your accomplishments—some of you have worked very, very hard to make it to this night and have overcome personal, emotional, and academic hardships to earn that little piece of paper that can open up new avenues and opportunities for you.  Well done! You’ve made it!
              Graduation can be an emotional night.  Some of you might be a little nostalgic and sad about losing the comfort and familiarity of home, school, and family as you head off on to new adventures.  Some of you will be relieved that you actually made it.  Some of you may feel elation that you are done with the rules and dress code of high school.  (I’ll leave you to the fantasy that there are no rules you have to follow once you leave high school and your parents’ homes, at least for awhile.  You’ll find out the truth soon enough.)  Some of you might even feel anxious or nervous about what the future holds.  Most of you will feel proud of yourselves.  All of these emotions are real, valid, and totally normal.  Just know that while you are feeling all of these things, your parents are, too. Whether you are the first one in the family graduating, the middle child, or the baby of the family, please recognize that this is a milestone for your mamas and your daddies, too. They are thrilled, stressed, nostalgic, anxious, and hopeful, just like you are.  So when Dad wants to talk to you for the 30th time about how to be safe when you’re away at college, don’t just sigh and say, “I KNOW!”  He’s not just telling you he wants you to be safe; he’s telling you he loves you.  Let him.  When your mom wants you to smile for just one more picture (or 20), do it for her.  Do it with gratitude, and not eye-rolling, because when she says, “Say cheese!” she’s actually saying, “I am going to miss these times, these moments with you.”  Let her know that you hear what she’s saying, even when she’s not saying it.  Let her know you’ll miss those moments too.  This moment in time is yours, but it’s also theirs.  Share it and enjoy it together.
              So here you are, on the verge of your new adventure, with your family and friends surrounding you and cheering you on.  Some of these people you’ll be sitting in the stands with, you might remain friends with for the rest of your life.  Some of them you might see now and again, but you’ll eventually drift apart.  And for some of them, graduation night might be the last time you ever see them.  High school is like that, just like the rest of your life.  People will come in and out of your life, some only briefly, and some for long and enduring stretches of your journey.  Regardless, each person has an impact on those they encounter.  Be thankful for the mark your classmates have had on you; hope that you have been a blessing to those you have touched.  It’s really the most important life lesson, at the end of the day—one that isn’t found in a textbook or on a test.  Be a blessing to the people you encounter, whether it be for a day or for a lifetime.  Your life’s mission is to find the best way for you to do that.
              And speaking of life’s mission, you all have one.  I don’t know what your mission is, and maybe you don’t yet either.  That’s okay.  Just look for it.  Be mindful of it.  Find your passion and follow it—that’s a great place to start looking.  And when you do find your mission, make it your life’s work to meet it head on, with intention and care.  Seek positive mentors.  Be a positive mentor to those who follow behind you.  Look for ways to leave your world and the people you encounter better than they were when you first arrived.  Let that be your legacy and your mark.  Will you make mistakes and wrong turns?  Of course you will!  Will you learn and grow from them?  That, my friends, is entirely up to you.  I certainly hope so.  Mistakes do not define success; reaction to mistakes does.  How will you respond?

              So here I am, reflecting on the mark you have already made on me, as I think about all the ways you will move out into the rest of your tomorrows.  Know that all of you, from the most gregarious to the most introverted, have made my year a special one.  I always marvel that I have future businessmen, politicians, amazing stay-at-home moms and dads, teachers, mechanics, engineers, pastors, musicians, and farmers among my students.  It’s a privilege to get to teach students who will grow up and be the decision-makers of the future.  It’s the reason I keep teaching. YOU are the reason I keep teaching.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for another wonderful year.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.  Good luck, much love, and best wishes on all your future endeavors.

                                                                                                                   Mama Lutjens

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