There’s a very good reason why graduation ceremonies are called commencement exercises. The end of high school really is the beginning of one’s adult life — “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” as the song goes. And like a doctor who spends a lifetime “practicing,” it’s a commencement “exercise” because it is just one of many beginnings the graduates will face; it’s good to practice new beginnings, to learn to embrace them and take strength from them rather than avoid or fear them.
Graduation is a time to reflect on the past, because that’s how one gets a clearer idea of how far one has come. And of course it’s also a time to look ahead, to dream and imagine all the possibilities that lie ahead, and to realize none of them is out of reach.
Most members of the class of 2012 began kindergarten in 1999 — the last class to enter the school system in the 20th Century. They are the ones who have pioneered and honed what the adults around them called “21st Century learning and skills.” Now it’s time for these young men and women to bring these skills to the world and to use them to make it a better place.
And so, some advice to this year’s graduating class:
Be true to yourself and to the values your parents and teachers and community have instilled in you. Follow your heart and your path may twist and turn, but it will always lead you where you are meant to go.
Be open to new beginnings; they are what make and keep life interesting.
Respect the past and the lessons it will continue to teach you; it is what will ground you when you need it most.
Do not confuse 21st Century gadgets with the 21st Century communication skills you have been taught. Look up and look around — there is no substitute for human interaction.
Choose truth and choose kindness.
Cherish life and all its messiness.
Whenever possible, make choices that are based on positive actions rather than negative reactions.
Remember that generosity is never a wasted effort.
Sincere congratulations to the Weston High School class of 2012.