Many a glad grad will zestfully zoom through Saturday’s commencement at Halifax County High School oblivious to life’s all-to-quick transformation they are experiencing.
Truth be told, many are just waiting for the speeches to be over so they can grab their diploma and head for the beach — a rite of passage for a senior to celebrate enduring 13 years of often-time gruelling schoolwork.
There’s not much advice that hasn’t been given. Dream big. Seize the day. Wear sunscreen. (The later made famous in a spoken-word song after a 1997 essay in the Chicago Tribune dispensing humorous advice on living a happier life, a la commencement speech style.)
Indeed, happy days are ahead.
While each graduate deserves tremendous praise, it’s also a time to laud the many educators — and others — who have had a sometimes seemingly subliminal impact on a student’s life.
From third grade to high school, it’s the little things that can change the direction of a student’s life.
The teacher who spends extra time getting to know the dreams of each kid, and not just the stereotypical rhetoric some automatically spout, but the real interests that lie deep inside.
The principal who refuses to give up on children cast aside by society as troublemakers.
The librarians who are able to spark new interest by just opening a dusty book.
The guidance counselor who recognized the young one’s special ability and pushed classes to sharpen those skills.
Then there’s the coaches who knew pushing a child’s athletic abilities not only strengthens sports play, but gives an upper hand in the game of life.
And of course, there’s family. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — each offering a special perspective and wisdom that helps shape a growing mind.
For many, growing up’s best discoveries were made from relationships with classmates that blossomed into best friendships that will likely — thanks, of course to Facebook — never fade.
The never-ending list is a testament to the old cliche “it takes a village to raise a child.”
Was it all a walk in a sunny park? We hope not. Life’s dramatic turns are what molds us into better human beings. It’s how each unexpected twist is handled that precipitates if the next domino will fall.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (yes, another song the grads surely know by heart.)
On Saturday, the high school journey is over. But the memories and impact will outlast a lifetime.
Our best advice for graduates: Don’t be so quick to leave it all behind. One day, say 20 years from now, you’ll realize what that graduation speaker really meant while you were secretly daydreaming of your senior beach week instead of listening to the meanderings of a motivator.
Oh, and about that beach trip, remember the sunscreen.