Seniors, Parents and Guests,
On behalf of the Blue Ridge ISD Board of Trustees, I would like to welcome you to the 2017 Blue Ridge High School Graduation Ceremony. I am truly honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the senior class of 2017 for successfully completing their journey through public education. As a parent of one of these senior, I address you with both a tear in my eye and an excitement in my heart. Hannah we love you and are very proud of you. To the senior class of 2017, I know that right now you are thinking, "Hurry up! I'm ready to move on from Senior to See Ya", but I would like to have just a minute or two of your time.
In our district this year, we created a new motto, Learn...Grow...Excel... This motto represents the next steps that we should all take in life. The next steps are hard ones to make, and sadly steps that some fail to make, so today I would like to share with you what they are and how your life will benefit from them.
The 1st Step is to Learn.
Those who succeed in life realize that learning doesn't end after high school; it actually begins. The minute you stop learning is the minute you stop living. My greatest hope for you is that you never view learning as a pain, but that you embrace it as an exciting and joyful part of life. Always choose to learn more about your faith. Learn from your experiences, but most importantly learn from your mistakes. I challenge you to fail and fail a lot. Because the more you fail, the more you can excel
The 2nd Step is to Grow.
Life is a metamorphosis. You've grown physically into the adults you are today, but the very best people in life grow both mentally and spiritually. They grow in their love for friends and family, and they grow in their passion and zest for life. If you choose to take the 2nd step, you will experience life in the way it was meant to be lived. You will never settle for life the way it is, and you will never make excuses for bad things that happen to you. You will always find a better way, and you always make it a better day for yourself and those around you.
The 3rd and Final Step is to Excel.
When I think about what it means to excel, I look to the words of our founding fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence over 240 years ago.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Those who excel discover Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness when they realize that their purpose in life is not to take but to give. If our country is to continue to be the greatest nation on the planet, we need less takers and more givers. The bottom line is that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not handed to you. It is earned and it has to be earned every single day.
Excelling is not about being the best; it is about giving your best to make a strong family. It's about volunteering in your church, little league, in your school, and in the community, and most importantly it's not about waiting for someone else to do it for you. It's about being an active leader in making your community and our country a better place for everyone.
Think about this. Who has stood out in your life and in your time here in Blue Ridge? It was the people who excelled. They did more than they were asked to do. They were the ones who always stepped up to help you, and they were the people who invested in you. Well now it's your turn. Wherever you go and whatever you do, I challenge you to remember that the purpose of life is to make life better for everyone you come in contact with. Then and only then will you find true happiness.
My final words to you can be found in this 8 ounce cup. To some it's just a cup, but to the senior class of 2017, it was your opportunity to leave a lasting impression on Blue Ridge (see video here). From now on, every time I look at this ordinary cup, I will remember the legacy you left behind for future classes to follow. I will always see your awesome personalities and special moments throughout the year, but most importantly I will forever see the potential that you have to make this world a better place. I wish each of you the best luck and I think I speak for everyone when I say this.
We will all miss you when you're gone.