From remarks to new inductees to the White Bear Lake Area High School National Honor Society in April, 2016
As a first-time grandfather, I look forward to regular updates from my daughter on the latest antics of two-and-one-half year-old Iris.
She attends preschool a couple of mornings a week, and school stories provide some of the best entertainment.
Last week was "big truck" week at her preschool. As one of the activities, the children were herded onto the big yellow school bus for a tour. Her teachers noticed that Iris was not quite as appreciative of the tour as they expected. In fact, she began sobbing, almost hysterically.
It was not until nearly bedtime that her parents discovered the cause. Little Iris thought the bus was going to take off into the sky - as happens in the Magic School Bus videos - and she wanted no part of it!
For a child not yet three, the boundaries between reality and imagination are fluid. What is real might feel imaginary and what is imaginary can feel remarkably real. Do you remember favorite books from your childhood? Which made you feel happy and which were scary?
Even as high school students, we exist comfortably on the borders of imagination and reality. Facing a difficult assignment, we are drawn to daydreaming, reading a novel or watching a movie. And what makes prom so enticing?
Tonight you really will be inducted into the National Honor Society - this is not your imagination!
Let's consider what honor means.
To honor means to "regard with great respect" as in "we will honor you tonight." You respond by dressing in your best and sit with your parents and remember your manners.
To honor also means to "fulfill or keep an obligation," as in "we challenge you to honor your pledge to the principles of the National Honor Society."
How does tonight fit with imagination and reality?
You really are here, after all, eating dinner.
You are here because you have been judged by your teacher advisers as real:
Real in scholarship, leadership, service and character.
When you think about it, honors say a lot about what we value. Would you rather be honored with an Oscar for best actor or actress, or for the Nobel Peace Prize? Or perhaps more to the point in this room, recognized for being a good father or mother, a good teacher or leader, or a good son or daughter?
This would be a good time for you to look around your table to nod in thanks to your parents for the example they have set. Look to the head table to remember the teachers and administrators who have encouraged you. Look to the seniors here tonight who have led you in service.
This whole business of honor comes down to standards of what we value. Tonight you will be inducted into the National Honor Society, which has held to high standards for nearly 100 years.
But this is one organization where your obligation does not end with tonight's honor. In fact, you are pledging to continue to demonstrate scholarship even when you get tired, step up to leadership even when you would rather blend into the crowd, serve even when it is inconvenient and exemplify character even when nobody is watching.
So enjoy your dinner. We will then invite you to climb aboard the Magic School Bus, so you can be whisked away to the ceremony at an undisclosed location!
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools