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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Congratulations Class of 2012!


I have to start out by apologizing to you all; this is only the second graduation in my time here at Mauston High School that I have missed.  My niece is graduating in Wisconsin Rapids today; so, I cannot be in Mauston.

Maybe a note like this is better anyway.  I have always been better able to express difficult ideas in writing than in person.  If I was there today, all I would tell you are the same cliche phrases you have heard countless times by now: "Good luck in college!", "Be proud of what you have done here!", and "Thank you for being a great kid/student/person/etc.."

All of those things are true...for most of you.  Not having to see you face to face I can tell you the truth.  Some of you were a pain in the ass for four years.

YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.  (Writing note: I love sentences like "You know who you are" because I am certain that most of you are seriously considering the possibility that you are one of the students I am talking about.  I could clarify but I want you all to consider the possibility).

All of the glowing, motivational-speaker lines that I would be tempted to say to you in person would be a waste of time because many of them would be aimed at the wrong audience.  I thank those of you who came to class every day, practiced the skills, and absorbed the knowledge because you challenged me to be stronger academically. 

Those of you, however,  who challenged me in every other way need to know that I keep a list of students who have wronged me and I find a way to get even some day.  Just ask the class of 2009.

I AM KIDDING.  The truth is that in all but a few extreme cases you were instantly forgiven, and even in those rare times you were still eventually forgiven.  I understand the reasons why school might not be a priority for you, why getting work done (at all or on time) might be difficult, and why most days you did not want to be here (and acted like you were not).  The world will not care about these things, but I did.

I do need to qualify that forgiveness though; I also never forget.  I never forget because it is part of my job to notice when those behaviors start to collect in a way that indicates some bigger issue that you are dealing with (something that requires intervention).  I never forget because I can not help but take on some of the guilt over your failings in my class (this requires me to forgive myself too).  I can do a lot, but alone I cannot do everything I wish.

So, here is my one motivational line for you; when you find your limits, accept them and forgive yourself for "failing" at that point.  Failing to meet a goal alone does not mean you can never achieve the goal; it does mean you will need help.  Seek help, demand help, and plead for help.  If you get it and still fail, then perhaps it is time for a new goal.

I also never forget because I would then miss out on one of the greatest experiences a teacher can have:  In five years when I meet one of you difficult students out in the world (or even more special, when you come back to visit Mauston High School) and I can see that you have grown to be a productive, passionate, and proud young adult that I never could have envisioned when you were just a sullen, teenage pain in the ass.

Okay, one cheesy motivational line to end this with: I hope for all of you to succeed; I also hope you all have the ability to recognize success when you experience it.

Congratulations class of 2012!
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