Wear sunscreen.........or some damn thing.
I played that Baz Luhrman piece for my graduating Seniors and I must admit, it holds a lot of good advice. I added in my own advice, which quite simply is, "If something isn't working, change." Change is good in many aspects, and as I sit in my little classroom in Ukiah and start to see returning students, I hear one thing more than any other, "I'm stuck in Ukiah". I told the students that no one is stuck anywhere, that you know choose to be "stuck" in Ukiah if you make that decision. "Change" impacted my life in a major way, many times. I'm hoping that some students know that change is an option.
The class of 2007 was my final class in which I taught some of them as freshman in World History. Some of their departures were quite emotional, though I wasn't about to let on as such. I felt an odd, deep connection to some of my students, and I finally feel like I understand how a parent feels when their child goes off to college. I feel the worry about a student that has little direction in her life, except that she is happy-go-lucky, and that attitude may give her great strength, or it might be ran down by the realities of the "real world". I smirk at the coming success of a student that is just plain goofy on the outside, but shows flashes of inner strength and a good heart when he allows himself to lead. It isn't a smirk of disdain, it's a smirk of "he's going to have wayyyyyyy too much fun getting to his destination. Good for him." I see the painful averages that could have been so much more their freshmen years.
"You're graduating, (name of student)! Whatcha up to next?"
"Going to Mendo."
It makes me crazy. Get away from the friends and the family, and the comfort. The world awaits your talents and spirit.
Finally, I feel the admiration for those that I've watched grow, and I am actually excited for them to take on the world. I watch one who's going away with nothing to fear, and I wish him just the little hint of humility that will be needed to achieve greatness. I watch another who's going away with lingering doubt, and I want to hug her to transfer to her the reassurance that everything will be fine.........and then I want to kick her in the ass to get her out of Ukiah and out into a world in which she will become the best at whatever she chooses.
Yeah, it was rough to watch, but in kind of a good way. Ya know?