Friday, June 10, 2016

HOW: Commencement Speech 2016

I had the honor of hosting my third commencement as high school principal, and here are the words I shared with our graduates and guests:

Now, Class of 2016:

What are you going to do with your lives?  What are you going to do next? 

These are questions you’ll both ask yourself as well as be asked (too often).  

Tonight instead, I want to focus you on how you’re going to live.  And “HOW” is a word worth writing on your mirror, because the questions I’m going to ask are ones you will answer every day whether you think about them or not

So much is in the how.  How will you greet yourself each morning?  How will you look yourself in the eye?  

How will you shave?

How will you take care of yourself?  How will you nourish your body?  

How will you maximize your strengths?  How will you improve?

How will you ask for what you need?  How you will you ask for help?  How will you know when you need to?

How will you apologize?  How will you admit when you are wrong?  How will you ask for forgiveness?

How will you forgive yourself?

How will you ask that difficult question?  How will you say no?  How will you tell the truth?  

How will you step up, speak up, stand up?  How will you protest?  How will you advocate?  How will you earn and demonstrate respect?

How will you greet your neighbor?  How will you pass strangers on the street or in cars on the freeway?

How will you respond when someone asks you for money?  Or for food? 

How will you make people laugh?  How will you make others comfortable?

How will you express your frustration?  How will you write that email?  How will you update, post, tweet, and comment?

How will you talk with people?  How will you talk about them?

How will you respect others’ bodies and their rights?

How will you love?  

How will you create a family? 

How will you break up?  How will you make up?

How will you listen?  How will you spend your time?

How will you face disappointment?  How will you sacrifice?

How will you help?  How will you express gratitude?  

How will you treat your environment?  How will you leave the places you pass through? 

How will you say goodbye?  

How will you start fresh?  How will you prepare?  

How will you let go?  

How will you stay in touch?

How will you love this life?  

How will you be?

Class of 2016, your words and actions will be the answers to these questions.  Open yourself to new teachers, models, and fellow passengers who will help guide your way.

How have you left us?  

With clean water, flag football, and enduring spirit.

Now, how will I leave you?  

With gratitude for your creativity, generosity, long conversations, and the love we shared between us. 

It is my honor now to introduce your senior class president...

1 comment:

Laura Plumb said...

oh thank you for posting this! it was so beautiful, so moving, and so inspiring. i sat there thinking, how is she so brilliant? and, i wonder if she'd share it? the next day i bought you a butterfly bush because you give wings to our children. but mine told me you are gone, long gone. i'll keep it until you are back, safely back "with your friends," as tootsie says; back with all of the children and parents you treat as friends. thank you jenny.