Only the beginning
This week is a big one for Rutherford County. Mothers have shed tears and students have let out cheers as graduation season began. This weekend only promises more celebrations with graduations at Chase High School, R-S Central High School and East Rutherford High School.
I've been preparing myself for months for this weekend and I feel like I have lived and breathed graduations since they began with Rutherford Early College High School and Isothermal Community College in May. All of my stress has been leading up to this weekend when the final Rutherford County graduate receives his or her diploma. Once they have it in hand, and my story is written, I can relax for a day before I have to get back to my job.
But until then, I have articles to write, pictures to take and graduation speeches to hear.
The speeches are an important part of any graduation. They can empower graduates and make them remember the moment forever or they can be super boring and cause everyone in the audience to groan. It usually works one of those two ways.
Or they can be like my college graduation when the speaker congratulated the Class of 2012 instead of the correct Class of 2011.
I consider myself very experienced with graduation speeches because I've heard many at my own graduations and at the various ones I've covered while working here.
Most say the same thing.
They usually include high school memories and advice for the future. Students are told they have the world at their fingertips and they can do anything they want in the future.
I've often thought about what I would say if I had to give a graduation speech to students. Since many of them would probably be eager for me to stop talking and get off the stage, I would probably go with the usual. Something reminiscent and encouraging. Maybe I would quote "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss or Rascal Flatts' "My Wish," like so many usually do.
"Believe in yourself," "Question everything," "Education is not the destination but a journey," and "You are the future," are just some of the words of wisdom thousands of graduates hear every year. I could probably use some of those to give them some motivation.
And I would end my speech with my favorite graduation saying, "This is not the end, it's only the beginning." That one is my favorite no matter how much of a cliche it is.
Every ending is a new beginning. In my speech I would tell the graduates to always remember that.
So I want you graduates to sit back and enjoy the hour or so that you have to wear the funny cap and gown. Take time to celebrate the day but remember, like all of the speakers will say, this isn't where you should stop.
High school is merely a stepping stone to where you need to go in life. That's a good cliche, you will probably hear it this weekend too.
And go out in the world and make it better. Because that is what all of the speakers at your graduation will tell you to do.