Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Beginning

This is commencement season.  Kids wear their best clothes, their graduation gown and “hats”.  They’re decked out in tassels and stoles, medals and pins.  Confetti and balloons.  Cards, gifts, parties.

In 1972, I graduated with a class of 32 friends.  The school is no longer there.  When we’re back in Wisconsin visiting my wife’s family, we drive past what was once my school.  Most of it is falling down.  A shell of what it once was. 

I had to give a speech that day, one of two students to do so.  I remember it, actually.  I doubt if others do.  My dad and mom and my sister Donna sat in the audience.  We didn’t wear robes or “hats”.  Just my blue double-breasted suit. 

I’ve been through many commencements in my 37 years in education.  Last year’s was tough.  Hannah graduated.  I still get choked up remembering her introduction of me.  She was class officer and part of her introduction was, “You know him as the principal.  I know him as ‘my dad’”.  Yup, choked up again.

When I became principal, I decided against a traditional “principal speech” and instead, pick a song that represents or typifies the graduating class.  I sing to them. 

I had to sing after Hannah introduced me.  Tough to sing with a lump in one’s throat, with tears running down one’s cheeks.   I didn’t do “My Wish” any justice.  Still, the thought and my hope for them, for Hannah, was there. 

Commencement doesn’t, however, mean an end.  It actually means a beginning.

Rather ironic when you think about it.  I mean, you spend 8 years of elementary and middle school, four more years of high school to . . . begin again? 

Sure, college.  Graduate in four or five years, sometimes longer to . . . begin again?


To go forward.  Begin again.

Find the path.  Walk on it.  To and Through the door of your, perhaps His, choosing.  As He holds your hand.

As parents, we do the best we can with what we have to offer.  Kids stumble along the way.  We help pick them up, dust them off, and give them a pat on the back and tell them, “It’s okay.”  With a nod and a smile, perhaps a tear, they begin again.  We begin again.  Once again.

Oh, and my school that’s falling down?  The historical society is involved.  It’s creating a thrift shop for folks who can’t afford new.  A playground and a nursery.  Beginning Again.

Commencement doesn’t really end with one beginning.  Each day is a commencement.  Each night is a commencement.  A chance, an opportunity to begin again.  Take advantage of it.  Live it.  Love it.  It’s yours.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!


  1. I smiled at the thought of you singing at your school's commencement. What song did you choose for this year's commencement?

  2. It's a secret until after June 15. Thanks!

  3. Drats! But nice try, Joan. I can only add that it will be worth the wait! Theresa


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe