The following is a column submitted by Michelle Hutchins, Mendocino County superintendent of schools.
Dear Class of 2019,
Congratulations! High school graduation day marks a special occasion. It represents the culmination of years of hard work, late nights, success and failures, perseverance, and dedication to academic pursuits and personal growth. Although graduating from high school does not guarantee success in life, it does indicate a commitment to learning and bettering yourself, a commitment that is likely to lead to a longer, healthier, happier life.
As you walk across the stage to receive your diploma in your cap and gown, you’ll join millions before you. Graduation is a significant milestone, and whether you end up at the top of your class or at the bottom in many ways makes no difference. Graduation empowers you to excel. I hope it gives you a sense of pride and confidence, knowing you can achieve the goals you set for yourself. As Henry David Thoreau said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving your goals.” By graduating, you have proven to yourself and everyone who knows you that you are capable of success.
The question is: where do you go from here? Whether you continue on a path of formal education or join the workforce, I hope you consider reaching for new heights. I hope you contemplate what makes you happy and then spend time pursuing it. I hope you are willing to take risks, because it is only then that you discover your true potential.
When you challenge yourself and believe you can do anything you set your mind to, more often than not, you succeed; because each and every time you overcome a challenge—something you’re scared of—you become stronger and more confident. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Be courageous! Remember, courage doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. It means you feel the fear and jump in anyway.
Life will undoubtedly throw up roadblocks. It is your response to those roadblocks that will determine the course of your life. Do you give up at the first sign of difficulty or do you figure out how to go around or over or under or through that roadblock? Do you label yourself the victim, or do you do everything within your power to take action?
So much of life is determined by your attitude. There is a Cherokee saying about the battle each person wages within, the two wolves we all have inside us. One wolf is full of anger, jealously, fear, doubt, greed, sorrow, resentment, false pride and ego. The other is full of joy, peace, love, hope, humility, generosity, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faith. When a grandson asked his grandfather which one wins, the grandfather replied, “The one you feed.” Your future truly is in your hands. Feed your good wolf. You have the power to overcome obstacles, to succeed in all the ways that are most important to you. Be persistent and believe.
The trappings of graduation—the gown, tassel and hat—connect you with graduates around the world as well as to the future and past generations of students who graduated from your high school. Graduation day is the last day we call you “high school student.” Tomorrow we will call you “friend.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mendocino Voice. If you would like to send us a letter-to-the-editor feel free to write to [email protected], we want to hear from you.
I’m sorry but Henry David Thoreau never said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving your goals.” No matter how many times it appears on the Internet, he didn’t write it. Educators should check their sources. What would a Mendocino High School English teacher say to a student who didn’t check their sources? The sentiment Superintendent Hutchins expressed is great; only the quotation isn’t. – Jeff Cramer, editor of The Quotable Thoreau