It is a privilege to be here to speaking tonight to the Class of 1998. As I thought of what Ishould speak about tonight, I tried to think about “What would a high school graduating seniorwant to hear?” I believe the first and foremost thing they want to hear tonight is their name overthe PA, and walk across the stage to receive their diploma. Secondly, I think they would want tohear about the tremendous job that they have done in their 4 years here at Columbia City HighSchool.

Finally, I think they would want to hear something about what is getting ready tohappen 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 theattendance office to explain why you were absent yesterday.

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Yes, you will hear your name to berecognized 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 thethings that you have done in your journey to get here. When you think about that journey, youwill remember friendships, teachers, dances, competitions, your favorite class, and your worstclass. The administration, faculty, staff and the board of education will hope that you remembersome 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 namepraised. 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 havean 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 inlife is something that you have a great “Passion” for. Whatever drives you, excites you, or youhave a tremendous love for that is probably your calling. Some of us search our whole livestrying to find a purpose, meaning, or sign of what to do, and it invariably comes back tosomething 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 4years. 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 mannerthat you did, your legacy will long be remembered and your leadership hard to replace. Ourschool is beginning to change a little as the future is upon us, our success and opportunity togrow 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 inacademic, debate, and athletic teams, clubs and organizations, choral and band, and brought ourschool a number of championships and honors. While trophies, plaques, medals, and bannerswill 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 livesin your quest for achieving your goals. Being able to observe and take part in your successes andfailures 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 arenot to speak about failure because it represents in many of our minds something bad. There is anold saying of “Something bad must happen for something good to happen.” I don’t know if Ibelieve that, but what I do believe about “Failure” is that you should not fear it. We all fail attimes in our life, but it is how we react to it that really matters.

We must constantly learn fromour failures, because that is from where our real growth will come. Never justify failure, blameothers, or look for excuses, because all that will do is camouflage the failure and you will not getover it.The final thing I would like to talk to you about tonight is “What is really going tohappen 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 isEnglish, 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 asyou go through life. Number 1 – Learn to love and respect yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you comefrom, how much money you have, if you do not love or respect yourself it will be difficult foryou to have happiness in your life.

When it comes down to it you are the most important personin your life and you will not be able to properly care for others, help others, or function unlessyou enjoy being you.Number 2 – Always be where you are. There are certain things in life that take time, do not giveup 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 timesbefore we are ready. We are always too busy trying to get to where we want to go that we do nottake time to appreciate where we are and those around us. I hope that you have enjoyed being ahigh school senior, because you will not get that opportunity again.

Focus on the problems orobjectives 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. Respectpeople for who they are and what they are trying to become. Their are 4 types of people in theworld.

1) Those who solve problems, 2) Those who help others solve problems, 3) Those whocreate problems, and 4) Those who are the problem. You will always be remembered for whatyou do not what you say you do.Number 4 – Stand for something. Believe in the values that have been bestowed upon you. Beproud of who you are, what you do, and have a belief of the way you want to lead your life. Noone can take away your dreams except yourself. Pursue what you want and do not let anythingstand in your way.

You are responsible for what you become. There are a number of seniors thatwill graduate this year from all around the world. A number of valedictorians, a number ofmusicians, and a number of athletes.

The question you must continue to ask yourself is “Whatwill separate me from all the others?” If you are at peace with yourself, focused on where youare, striving to be the best you can be, and are solid in your beliefs; nothing or no one will keepyou 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 allhope you never forget is that everyone needs help from time to time.

You have a lot of peoplehere at this school and community that care very deeply for you, and would not hesitate to helpin any way. I tell my wife every day I love my life because of her, my kids, my family, and thejob I do. I wish all of you that happiness, because when it comes right down to it that is all thatreally matters.Thank you.

x

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