St. Michael's School 2016 Graduating Class
Chet Root, Brandon Birkmann, Rebecca Lowry, Jessandra Letourneau, Ryan Higgenbotham, Kyle Knowlton
Emma Burnham photos
Welcome, teachers, parents, friends, and family. Well this is it, we’re not quite done but this means we are getting pretty close. Most of us graduating here today are a younger sibling, so we know what it is like when somebody leaves home. When you think about leaving, there are a myriad of emotions. Those leaving to begin a long planned trip are eager and excited. Students starting at college in a new city who leave friends and family may be a bit anxious and nervous about the new changes. Those who stay behind may experience feelings of sadness or regret. These different feelings are each apart of life and growth. Sad feelings may be just as necessary as good ones but too bad they could not all be soothed with ice-cream as Lemony Snicket suggests. His perspective on leaving is "It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.” For those of you feeling sad or unhappy at the end of this talk, there may be an ice cream sandwich for you at the back.
Every reader has to start somewhere. Lemony Snicket has said “You don't spend your life hanging around books without learning a thing or two.” After Junie B. Jones, Dr. Seuss stories were my favorite stories when I was little. I have learned a thing or two from reading and a particular book comes to mind when thinking about graduation. “Oh The Places You Will Go.”
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
in any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
So far, our entire lives have been directed by something. A need for good grades, a desire to play sports, or to just get school over with. It is now our time to choose what the rest of our lives are going to be: a casual labourer, a journeyman, a university graduate, a parent ... or a combination of them all. We have learned a lot and we have many more experiences ahead of us that will help us make those decisions.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
can happen to you.
J. K. Rowling said “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
Failing is a part of life. You will never learn if you never fail, my class and I know all too well how to fail, inadvertently we have also learned how to succeed.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That's not for you!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don't
Because, sometimes they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
As we all start our journeys today, or tomorrow, or in a week’s time or in September, we have to remember that we decide how that journey will go. Yes, there will be people who help us but there will also be people who hinder us. We must remember to thank those who have reached out to us and pulled us up when we were down whether a friend, or our teachers, or our parents but remember it’s not up to them its up to us.
Michael Dell once said: As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.”
If you look at my class today you can see we are anything but typical, so why would we follow the typical steps. I mean we all ended up here, even though we all took different paths, some of us probably have more scraps and bruises than others but we are all still here, well at least the six of us are.
Dieter Uchtdorf has said, “I am sure you are aware that every cultural tradition is rich with journey stories. For instance, you may be familiar with the journey of Dorothy and her dog, Toto, in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and Toto are swept up in a tornado and deposited in the Land of Oz. There, Dorothy finds that distinctive, yellow-brick road that marks the path for a journey that eventually leads her home.
Then there is Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge, whose journey takes him not from place to place but from time to time. It’s a journey right within his own heart that helped him to understand why he became the way he was and to see what would happen to him if he continued on his path of selfishness and ingratitude.
And of course there is Bilbo Baggins, the small, unassuming hobbit who would have very much preferred to stay home and eat his soup. But after a knock at his door, he follows the call of the great unknown and steps out into the world, together with a wizard and a band of dwarfs, to fulfill a dangerous but vitally important mission.
Don’t we love these journey stories because we can see ourselves in the travelers? Their successes and failures can help us find our own way through life. Perhaps these stories also remind us of a journey we all should be familiar with—a journey story in which each one of us plays an important part.”
Each one of us has been leading a journey so far, and like Dieter Uchtdorf reminded us we are each playing an important part, and it’s not going to end today. We have to keep pushing past our limits.
Earl Bakken says, “By all reckoning, the bumblebee is aerodynamically unsound and shouldn’t be able to fly. Yet, the little bee gets those wings going like a turbo-jet and flies to every plant its chubby little body can land on to collect all the nectar it can hold. Bumblebees are the most persistent creatures. They don’t know they can’t fly, so they just keep buzzing around. Like the lowly bumblebee, never give in to pessimism. Don’t think that you can’t fly, and you will soar like an eagle.”
Don’t let the world put limitations on you and your success, dare to be you.
Thomas S. Monson once said,
“Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known.”
You are what you believe, if you want people to respect you and your beliefs you have to stand up for them.
“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
Carpe diem, seize the day. I’ve recently learned we don’t live forever, life could be over in an instant, so take advantage of life while you can. Take a chance, do something you have never done before, try a little bit harder than you have ever tried before, and if you fail, fail with glory.
In closing I’d like to share a quote from Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Congratulations to the graduating class of 2016! As we each start or continue our journeys, I hope we'll remember we're children of God with divine potential to be good. "We do not have to be perfect but we need to be good and getting better." (Kim B. Clark)