The warm summer I arrived as your superintendent you were preparing for eighth grade. Since then, I have been watching you... in the cafeteria, choir, band, classrooms, plays, sports and activities. Back in eighth grade I remember mostly that you were ...awkward. If you have doubts about my memory, just look at your eighth grade school picture.
Perhaps you remember that in eighth grade you really wanted to be in high school and treated as an adult, which at that point you thought went together automatically. Other times you thought it would be great to be back in fifth grade again, reliving track and field day. You took the baton and in spectacular fashion carried your elementary school to glorious victory. Yes, such is the awkwardness of transitions.
I learned about you during lunch conversations, while we munched on chicken nuggets and gobbled deep-fried french fries (in that ancient history both were still legal for school lunch). I was particularly eager to hear what important questions you might ask me.
But mostly you asked, "Will we ever, ever get a snow day?"
This March it happened - and none of you saw it coming. Class of 2013, that snow day was for you!
In disbelief, you overwhelmed social media, almost shutting down Facebook and Twitter. Such was your excitement, a couple of you claimed you even had difficulty getting back to sleep. But mostly you used the day wisely, for homework, time with friends and family, and perhaps for indulgence in a movie or three. A few of you, no doubt remembering our core values, surprised your parents by finishing a chore they had asked you to do last October.
During your years in school you have asked other important questions, too.
In the first year of the millennium you began kindergarten and wondered, "Will my teacher like me? Who will be my friend?"
You asked your parents for reassurance: "Will you be here when I get home?"
By middle school you asked, "Will my friends be on my team?"
You asked your parents for independence:
"You're not going to be around when I get home from school, are you?"
As ninth graders you went to North campus and wondered, "How will I keep from getting lost?"
When you approached your parents you didn't know whether to ask for a ride away from home or time together at home.
During your senior year you realize tough questions remain. On the verge of graduation you face the exhilaration of freedom and independence. You also face doubts. Surprise: you are at another awkward transition. So what questions are on your minds tonight?
One for sure is: "How can I get across the stage without tripping?"
During the past thirteen years you have learned three lessons important to recall tonight.
First, your teachers really do like you. Even on days they wear red shirts and give you tests.
Secondly, the friends of your elementary days are still your friends. After the ceremony you may hug a classmate you haven't talked to since third grade.
Third, those in the audience tonight really love you,
even if you argued all they way to the ceremony. We will clap and cheer for you and are very proud of you and your accomplishments. But we find our eyes moist when we watch you walk across the stage. Why?
That, Class of 2013, is your next question. When you begin to understand the answer why, you will realize what it means to become an adult.
Tonight we honor you. Our community is proud of your service, achievements, and character. We are grateful to your teachers and staff and our community for teaching you to dream and to never give up. We are all proud to be Bears.
Finally, remember the lesson of the snow day. Sometimes life will grant you a surprise gift when you least expect it. Be grateful and use it wisely.
Congratulations, Class of 2013... Go Bears!
Dr. Michael Lovett
To see photos from each graduation ceremony, please click the appropriate link below: