An open Graduation message to the Class of 2020.
This is a season of celebration. Graduation from High School is a notable achievement and one that should be celebrated!
There can be little doubt that the expectation of the High School graduate of today is way beyond the Class of 1975, my graduation year. You are tasked with far more in respect to skills attainment, personal emotional growth and social responsibility.
You have persevered through some very difficult events and circumstances. School shootings, a rarity, now a norm. Political and economic upheaval regionally and nationally. Weather events of size and scale never before seen.
And now Coronavirus COVID-19. This last one encompassing the difficulties of all the others yet on a worldwide scale and in each of our families.
There can be no doubt in my mind that these events impacted your development and family harmony in a variety of ways. Events such as these test our understanding of personal autonomy, family unity, community cohesion and national identity.
In this season we celebrate you in this bittersweet historical time. You’ve mastered what we asked you to, completed assignments, challenged your thinking process and garnered an openness to the wider world that now awaits you.
We do without hesitation nor reservation celebrate you and your success!
May I outline for you what you have accomplished? And our greatest hopes for you as one in the same!
You have proven you can think for yourself. You patiently (sometimes not so much) allowed us to pour into you data, history, and content in massive quantities. As you absorbed this voluminous knowledge base we asked you to assess, calculate, extrapolate, interpolate, evaluate and dissect what we are telling you. Critical thinking became your best ally. You rightly questioned: What is factual? What is true? What is verifiable? What is reasonable?
You have proven you can be charitable. Although some counter currents exist (and strong currents at that) you have accepted that acceptance of what is different from you is a core competency of charity. Speaking out against injustice, however you have grown to see it, is a part of you now. Accepting what you should, tolerating what is difficult, and resisting what is beyond the boundaries of charity. To borrow a phrase, ‘you can see the holy in the practice of another’.
You have proven you have excellence within you. Did you think you would escape Aristotle in this graduation address? Never! The most obvious examples of your arête is your voluntary participation in sports, music, arts, and social clubs. Having decided there is something in you beyond how you know yourself you allowed your innate desire for excellence to compel you to the fine arts, clubs and being a member of a sport teams. Here you combined knowledge and charity with your inner desire to excel and produced what only you can produce. Producing a new sound with personal flourish, a disciplined athletic sculpting the body/mind in a specialized unity, and bringing forth an expression of the theater that is a reflection of the divine drama.
Isn’t it something?! You can think with charity and act with excellence!! Is there any greater compliment? I think not. This is the hallmark of a High School graduate. This is your foundation to encounter life in all its glory and all its difficulty.
Congratulations Class of 2020
Don’t let the inconvenience of virtual ceremonies and distanced parties bring too much sadness. Rejoice in your achievement. Rejoice in the achievement of your classmates and friends.
Think with clarity.
Act with Charity.
Excel in doing.
Each of these modifies the other. All must be present. And they are present… within you!