Monday, June 4, 2012

Congratulations Class of 2012!

Parents, Community members, Members of the School Committee, Faculty and Administration, and, most importantly, the graduating seniors of the class of 2012.  Welcome all to the 11th annual graduation ceremony at the Manchester Essex Regional High School!
Seniors, graduation day is one of many significant events you will have in your lives, and, while this event is often viewed as either an ending or a new beginning, I prefer to view it as a stepping-stone, one of many that you will have throughout your lifetimes.  Your parents, your teachers, from kindergarten to high school, and your communities have served you well, They have provided you not only with a wonderful education but also with a sense of tradition, a spirit of inquiry and a commitment to service.
The Class of 2012 has earned the reputation of being a talented group of young adults who perseveres in the face adversity and who gives back to its community.  Athletically, you have experienced the victory of state championships. Artistically, you have demonstrated your talents on the canvas and in print, receiving accolades from the Boston Globe. Theatrically, you have distinguished yourselves through award winning Dramafest performances, and musically, you have drawn crowds from across the North Shore, with your Soundwaves performances.  Academically, you’ve built nationally competitive robots, explored the real world applications of science; you’ve debated across the country, produced an award winning student newspaper and helped to cultivate a green movement.  These experiences, whether collaborative or individual, demonstrate a desire for the pursuit of excellence. 
As you move on to further academic pursuits, service in our military or to the world of work, I urge you to push yourself to reach beyond your comfort zone and to embrace new challenges.  Continue to strive for personal excellence, but keep in mind that success is defined individually and it can be measured in many ways. I urge you not to bend to the external views of success but rather to find your own measures and seek to fulfill them. The pressures of test scores and grades will soon be replaced with pressures of income and material goods.  Society and the media will lead you to believe that the measure of your greatness can be seen in the size of your house, the sportiness of your car or the stylishness of your clothing. 
Your families, your school and your communities have worked hard to instill in you a deeper understanding and richer sense of self.  Material measures may provide comforts, but they will not nurture your spirit.  True success is found in the self-worth you develop and in the relationships you build. 
There will be times in your lives when you may struggle to balance your careers with your personal lives.  When faced with such decisions, I implore you to always tip the balance in favor of your family and friends. 
I am sure that each of you is filled with an anxious energy as you prepare to take your next steps.  Embrace them and make the most of every experience.  Life is to be lived and enjoyed.  You are each capable of greatness, but define that greatness by your own measure and not that of society. 
I would like to leave you with some words of wisdom, the authorship of which is frequently mis-attributed to one of my favorite authors… Ralph Waldo Emerson but was actually penned by lesser-known writer Bessie Stanley.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

Regardless of the author, its meaning is simple and true… as you step into the next chapter of your lives, I ask you to remember to seek success from within and work to leave this world a bit better off than you found it.

Congratulations and Good Luck!