Hold on to what is most important
Remarks to graduating seniors of the class of 2017 on June 9 at Aldrich Arena
had just finished third grade when I arrived as superintendent in the
summer of 2008. I visited schools in the midst of summer cleaning, and
often rode around with principals, learning about neighborhoods and
listening to them talk proudly about their schools, staff and you.
Thursday nights at Marketfest I met many of you and your families. We
gave out pencils in what you thought were designer colors. As fourth
graders you were happy with anything that was free.
"My fourth grade daughter really likes school
," one dad told me.
"Tell me more
," I replied.
"She just made a paper chain with a link for every day until school begins
"You mean like kids do in December, counting the days before the holidays
"Yep, she really likes school
His daughter is one of you here tonight.
Do your remember tears or at least a bittersweet feeling at the end of
your elementary school years? You were ready for summer vacation but
knew would miss your teachers and friends. Never again would a year be
quite the same.
This spring I asked many of you what you were looking forward to ... "summer...college...being on my own...graduation
"But I don't want to graduate
," one of you exclaimed.
As much as we look forward to the future, school has something we will miss dearly.
Looking back on the past nine years watching you, I remember:
The carefree children I saw in elementary school become shy and reserved at the start of middle school.
In middle school you were awkward. Yes, you were socially awkward. In
fact, that was when you began bugging me about calling snow days.
You were physically awkward too. Arms and legs sprouted almost
overnight. You kept losing your balance walking through the halls of
Central and Sunrise. I finally figured out why you hung together by the
lockers. You were actually holding on to one another to keep from
By North Campus most of you could walk independently. North was easier because there were no sharp corners.
But you were still hanging on to one another for approval.
During high school you have emerged as accomplished young adults.
Sometimes during our conversations I remember moments from the past nine years.
Your excitement at the fifth grade field day. Your character in the wax
museum. Your pride in your seventh grade History Day project. Your
remarkable progress on the athletic court or field.
I have seen you blossom on stage, become accomplished musicians,
inspiring artists, moving writers, compassionate citizens, and
Class of 2017, you have grown up during these past nine years. I am
grateful I have been able to witness your growth in skills, confidence,
Tonight when you come forward to receive your diploma, remember to "shake with your right hand and take with your left."
Hold on to your diploma, earned with time, encouragement and grit.
But also hold on to what you have learned during your time as Bears:
Hold on to memories of teachers and staff who put you first in their lives and will remember you;
Hold on to the friends who keep you from falling, whether in a middle school hallway, or as you walk to the stage tonight;
Hold on to the values you have learned: compassion
, and perhaps more important now than ever, kindness
Hold on to goals and dreams which have had their beginnings in our schools;
And wherever you go, hold on to the love we have for each of you.
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools