It is a privilege to be here to speaking tonight to the Class of 1998. As I thought of what I
should speak about tonight, I tried to think about “What would a high school graduating senior
want to hear?” I believe the first and foremost thing they want to hear tonight is their name over
the PA, and walk across the stage to receive their diploma. Secondly, I think they would want to
hear about the tremendous job that they have done in their 4 years here at Columbia City High
School. Finally, I think they would want to hear something about what is getting ready to
happen to them. I will do my best this evening to accomplish those things.

Your name will soon be called over the PA for something other than to come to the
attendance office to explain why you were absent yesterday. Yes, you will hear your name to be
recognized for achieving your last and biggest accomplishment at Columbia City High School.
Graduation is a time to be proud of what you’ve just accomplished and to think about all the
things that you have done in your journey to get here. When you think about that journey, you
will remember friendships, teachers, dances, competitions, your favorite class, and your worst
class. The administration, faculty, staff and the board of education will hope that you remember
some content of knowledge about the subjects that you have just completed.

We all have dreams and aspirations of being on center stage and hearing our name
praised. I would like to take a moment to maybe help in some way to make that happen for you.
Most of you right now know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, others have
an idea, some will change their mind at some point, and others are terrified about having no clue.
The single most important thing I could tell you about deciding on what you want to pursue in
life is something that you have a great “Passion” for. Whatever drives you, excites you, or you
have a tremendous love for that is probably your calling. Some of us search our whole lives
trying to find a purpose, meaning, or sign of what to do, and it invariably comes back to
something we have a great “Passion” for. If what you do has tremendous meaning to you,
consumes you, and is something you care deeply about you will hear your named being praised,
because you will do it to the best of your ability and nothing will stop you.

As I witnessed a number of you being honored last Friday at the Honors Convocation,
you have every right to be extremely proud of what you have given to CCHS over the last 4
years. I was amazed at the number of you that were involved in so many different organizations.
I have not been in the community long, but have been in communities long enough to know;
when a group of young people like yourself represent our school and community in the manner
that you did, your legacy will long be remembered and your leadership hard to replace. Our
school is beginning to change a little as the future is upon us, our success and opportunity to
grow is a reflection of the many hard and long hours you have put into our activities,
organizations, and most importantly our classrooms. Your class has played a major role in
academic, debate, and athletic teams, clubs and organizations, choral and band, and brought our
school a number of championships and honors. While trophies, plaques, medals, and banners
will be there to remind us of your accomplishments. The true award for us as educators, parents,
administrators, and patrons of the community is having the opportunity to be a part of your lives
in your quest for achieving your goals. Being able to observe and take part in your successes and
failures makes all of us a little better somehow.
I want to take a minute to talk about something I just said. “Failure”. Often times we are
not to speak about failure because it represents in many of our minds something bad. There is an
old saying of “Something bad must happen for something good to happen.” I don’t know if I
believe that, but what I do believe about “Failure” is that you should not fear it. We all fail at
times in our life, but it is how we react to it that really matters. We must constantly learn from
our failures, because that is from where our real growth will come. Never justify failure, blame
others, or look for excuses, because all that will do is camouflage the failure and you will not get
over it.

The final thing I would like to talk to you about tonight is “What is really going to
happen tonight after you walk out of here for in some cases what will be your last time?”
You will no longer have a life of bells. – Unless you choose to become a teacher.
No more having to ask to go to the bathroom.
No one to make you take notes, turn in assignments, or go to class if you don’t want to.

No longer will you have to handle a problem in the form of this section is math, this section is
English, this section is Science, an so on.

The list could go on and on.

What I would like for you to do is to listen to 4 things that I think will be important for you as
you go through life.
Number 1 – Learn to love and respect yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you come
from, how much money you have, if you do not love or respect yourself it will be difficult for
you to have happiness in your life. When it comes down to it you are the most important person
in your life and you will not be able to properly care for others, help others, or function unless
you enjoy being you.

Number 2 – Always be where you are. There are certain things in life that take time, do not give
up a part of your life to get something that will eventually come. Marriage, a different job,
getting out of high school, becoming 21 are examples of things we all wish we had often times
before we are ready. We are always too busy trying to get to where we want to go that we do not
take time to appreciate where we are and those around us. I hope that you have enjoyed being a
high school senior, because you will not get that opportunity again. Focus on the problems or
objectives at hand. Get involved, and excited about what you are doing.

Number 3 – Always strive to be a better person. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Respect
people for who they are and what they are trying to become. Their are 4 types of people in the
world. 1) Those who solve problems, 2) Those who help others solve problems, 3) Those who
create problems, and 4) Those who are the problem. You will always be remembered for what
you do not what you say you do.

Number 4 – Stand for something. Believe in the values that have been bestowed upon you. Be
proud of who you are, what you do, and have a belief of the way you want to lead your life. No
one can take away your dreams except yourself. Pursue what you want and do not let anything
stand in your way. You are responsible for what you become. There are a number of seniors that
will graduate this year from all around the world. A number of valedictorians, a number of
musicians, and a number of athletes. The question you must continue to ask yourself is “What
will separate me from all the others?” If you are at peace with yourself, focused on where you
are, striving to be the best you can be, and are solid in your beliefs; nothing or no one will keep
you from what you are trying to become.

It has been a tremendous honor for me to speak to you this evening. One thing that we all
hope you never forget is that everyone needs help from time to time. You have a lot of people
here at this school and community that care very deeply for you, and would not hesitate to help
in any way. I tell my wife every day I love my life because of her, my kids, my family, and the
job I do. I wish all of you that happiness, because when it comes right down to it that is all that
really matters.

Thank you.


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