It is an honor and a privilege to address such a fine group of young adults this evening. During my visits to the high school and various events over the last couple years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about quite a few of you. I am humbled by your intelligence, your compassion, and your myriad talents. Thank you for contributing so much richness to the Decatur community.
Several weeks ago, I was speaking with some elementary students when the topic of our conversation shifted to you, the seniors, and this graduation ceremony. I asked them what they would share with you tonight if they had the opportunity to do so. Their comments were so great that I followed up with elementary teachers throughout the district asking them to gather comments from their classes as well. What these young students shared was touching, insightful, wise, and inspirational; and not surprisingly, much of it was hilarious. So it is my pleasure to share with you tonight some thoughts from your elementary school peers.
Many of the students shared motivational messages:
- Be awesome, persevere, and never give up!
- Be the best you can be!
- Go to a good or awesome college after you graduate and then get a job that you love!
- Don’t be a scaredy cat. Take a deep breath and let it all go!
- Try your best and even more.
- Go out and see what the world is like. Go and see how awesome and cool it can be.
Many other students shared their young wisdom:
- Have a positive attitude and be careful not to do things that you shouldn’t do, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. 😀 stay safe! I am actually serious, ok?
- Be happy and/or calm. It will help you concentrate and do well in school.
- Get a car and then go to college.
- Stay in school so you can learn more and more.
- We hope you make a lot of money and share it with people. Keep some of it, though.
- Be kind and careful.
- Go into the military.
- Don’t talk about anyone’s skin color because we are more than our color.
- Go get a job, then get your driver’s license so you can get to your job.
- Always look out for new friends.
- Be thankful for what you have and don’t steal.
- Try to get hired, not fired!
- Wear bug spray and sunscreen everyday! You’ll never be too old for bug spray and sunscreen!
- Make lots and lots of mistakes. You can learn from mistakes. But if you don’t learn from your mistakes, then it’s just a waste of a good mistake.
- Be brave at everything you do, but don’t go into dark tunnels. That’s just crazy.
Some of them were quite philosophical:
- Wherever you are, there will always be somebody with you.
- Wherever there is a human being, there’s an opportunity for kindness.
- Remember to be the person you thought you would grow up to be when you were in the 4th grade.
And naturally there were those that were simply sweet thoughts:
- Be kind to others and treat people how you want to be treated.
- Be nice to people.
- Keep smiling.🍌😜😄
Being elementary school students, it was inevitable that there would be some comments that were downright hilarious. So I wrap up my address this evening with those that I found the most humorous:
- Go to a good college🏤 Get a pet cat🐱,dog 🐶or a pet teacup pig 🐷or a monkey.
- Listen to your mother because she’ll always be older than you.
- After you graduate, don’t waste your whole life by being eaten by a snake!
- Find yourself a good job, like being a spy or throwing newspapers.
- Don’t be afraid of anything. You know, the Jello Monster might swallow you, but if he does, you can eat your way out. Or you could wait until he poops you out. Either way, you’ll get out of there.
- When things get tough, don’t be all like, “Ah, man, I can’t do this. This is too hard. Grrr, grrr, grrr!” Be more like, “Yes, I can do this! I believe in myself!” If that doesn’t work, then just pretend that you’re a kitty cat, and everything will be OK!
The vision of the City Schools of Decatur is to build the foundation for all of you to be your best, achieve your dreams, and make the world a better place. I hope we have succeeded in building that foundation for you, and I look forward to hearing about the amazing things you each will do as you branch out from this community to whatever is next on your individual journey. As one of the elementary students put it, “Now you’re an adult; you can change the world!”