This past Sunday I watched the latest group of Slicers graduate and walk out of LPHS for the final time as students. I saw the look of excitement in their eyes, and there was so much I wanted to tell them before they all went off to start their amazing lives. Commencement speeches always inspire me, so I am writing this week for my favorite people: my students. This is my message to the Class of 2014.
*Fail. Fail because it means you’re trying. You’ll never skate through life if you’re truly fighting for your dreams. Dreams have to be worked for. You will get knocked down many times, but that is just to prove how much you truly want it. Never be complacent or comfortable. Get out there, and dare to be great.
*Worry about your character, not your reputation. John Wooden once said, “Character is who you really are; your reputation is who people think you are.” You’ll always have people who judge you whether it’s warranted or not, but if you’re a good person and consciously focus on your integrity, you’ll be noticed by the right people for the right things.
*Choose your friends wisely. Being surrounded by people who support, encourage, and truly care about you is invaluable. Find people who add to your life and who don’t steer you down the wrong path. The right friends can be the key to a happy life.
*Show up and be seen. Don’t hide in the back because you don’t think you are good enough. Your thoughts, ideas, and voice matter. Be vulnerable and be heard. Playing small out of fear of what others will say about your ideas will harm more than help you.
*Be kind. There is always an opportunity to show kindness to others. Never pass up one of those chances. Being kind helps all involved and inspires others to do the same. You never know how your efforts can impact another person. Sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.
*Be authentic. The world has too many clones and copycats. Don’t deprive society what you uniquely bring to it. What you bring to the table can never be replicated. Embrace what makes you different, and share it. Changing yourself to fit the mold will never make you happy.
Good luck, Class of 2014. You all have left a lasting mark on my life. I can’t wait to see all that you accomplish. As Mr. Tonagel says, “Once a Slicer, Always a Slicer.”
Go be great,
Click here for photos from the La Porte High School Class of 2014! They're all free to download.