Friday, June 12, 2015

CHS Graduation: a Tribute to Family

My graduation address to the Class of 2015 feels especially poignant as I mourn the passing of a role model and friend from the Class of 1987 and feel closer than ever to friends from my own Class of 1989.

Graduates, many of you have been a part of the Islander Family for four years. For some of you, it has only been a few months. But tonight you will be invited to join our fifty-year graduates in a family of Islander alumni and the past, present, and future of Coronado High School graduates which stretches back 100 years.  Placing yourself on a continuum of a century of events and people can make you feel as insignificant as a moment in time, or it can make you feel like you belong.

You will always be a part of the Islander Family, but I want to remind you of the other families you forged at Coronado High School and beyond its walls this year. Those families have sustained you and they are what you must seek out as you move on beyond this place.

A family can form over the course of a century or in the time an elevator is out of order. Families grow as a result of being in the same place with the same people (and the same appetite) week in and week out.   I'm thinking of Bagels and Bibles. I'm thinking of Water Polo Waffle Wednesdays. I'm thinking of Dessert Days in Woodshop and Calculus. You've grown families in your spots on the quad at break, at Starbucks before school, and astride your surf or skateboard.  In that E period class, CoSA carpool, and at that review session. 

Chances are most of you are not taking members of your Islander Family or real family along with you on your next adventures, so be on the lookout for new ones.  You’ll find them in some expected places:  your dorm, apartment building, library, dining hall, coffee shop, on teams, and in your classes and workplace.   But there’s wonderful reassurance in the familiar faces you find in less likely places…the clerk who seems to always be there when you're checking out.  The runners, walkers, or bikers who travel your same path.  The bird and squirrel outside your window each morning.  You’ll form families with people who share your faith or who share your struggle.

Coronado High School alumni create a home for one another by meeting annually on the eve of the Fourth of July in an all-school reunion. Year after year and decade after decade, 50-year graduates flock back to the island for our ceremony.  Our campus, even if the buildings aren’t the same as when you were here, will still belong to you.  Your classmates dedicated a memorial to all fallen Islanders, and the Rock and the courts and fields and stages, and that piece of pavement where you daily met your friends here at CHS, will always be yours.

So the advice I want to leave you with is to continue to actively form new families, even fleeting ones, by making eye contact, by saying hello and good morning, by high-fiving, by hugging, and by acknowledging that you're sharing the same space for a similar experience as someone else, whether it's in traffic or in a doctor’s office, or at a concert or graduation or grief group.  These connections are what make us less alone and are what makes us want to be and keep being.

I love you, my Islander sisters and brothers.  Don’t forget to come home to us for the holidays. 

1 comment:

Vivian Sudhir said...

Yes, interaction is the basis of any society. Your points are succulent and ideas vivid. Nice blog post.