Would you give a high school commencement address if you were invited to do so?
I declined. Two years ago, when I was invited to speak at Tolland High School where I’d been a teacher for seven years, I was happy enough with the honor of being asked without shouldering the responsibility of trying to do a decent job with the speech itself. I was daunted by the prospect of how much time it would take to prepare carefully, and reluctant to stand before a crowded gym and say something honest.
This spring, when I was asked again, I accepted. I was still concerned about what it would take to prepare, but I’ve missed my students, and it seemed like a good last chance to wish them well. It felt right to contribute to an occasion that recognizes students for their work and growth.
So last week, I gave my speech. I’d had many of the graduating seniors as 9th and 10th graders, so it was great to see them and their families on their last, milestone day. I put in a plug for valuing our inner lives, and practicing seeing things in a new way through Revision Glasses.
I suppose doing the speech is evidence that I’m braver now than I was two years ago. Or crazier. My writing has made me this way. In any case, I did my best, and I was honored to be part of the celebration.
Before we moved onto the suspense of wondering which students might trip over the electrical cord and the ramp they had to cross to get their diplomas, I had this to add:
“You are the resourceful, brave, brilliant people of our future. You have the heart and the humor and the wisdom it will take to live deeply and see the world fresh and truly as it is.”
Here’s to the class of 2012. Congratulations!