Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Graduation or commencement

    This is the time of year of excitement. Having been a high school principal, I can tell you from experience that there is a lot of anticipation, difficulty in concentration, and even craziness among seniors. Stop any member of that class in the hall and they can tell you exactly how many days until graduation – that starts sometime after Christmas.
    Then, there comes a change. Particularly during the graduation ceremony – even though there are a lot of smiles and joyous sounds – there come some tears and soberness, and a realization that what they longed to leave, doesn’t look so bad; it will be something that many of them miss. No longer will they have the schedules, checks and balances, and concerned adults. In their new life, they may punch a card, but an absence will still be an absence whatever the excuse. If they go on for advanced schooling and don’t show up for class, the attendance secretary won’t call to see if everything is okay.
    These confident high school seniors begin to realize that graduation is not merely the end of something; it is the commencement – the beginning of something new.
    At graduation ceremonies, these “mighty” seniors remind me of kindergarten children; they actually have that look in their eyes. Now, some may disagree. My recommendation for those individuals, is to visit a nearby university. I have also had the opportunity to teach at that level. It is amazing how young and often unsure the new freshmen look and act. They seldom resemble those recent self-assured seniors; a transformation has happened.
    There is a message here for everyone. Regardless of the business you run, the organizations in which you’re involved, or the household in which you dwell. Commencements don’t come in twelve years, in four years, or in two years. Commencements come every day. You have never lived this day before. You have never lived tomorrow. In fact, many will not live tomorrow – some know that, and others don’t. There is no time to be disrespectful to patrons, condescending to employees, surly at parents, mad at kids, or generally hurtful to others.
    It is wise to remember the old politician’s saying (not remembered by many politicians) when you are slinging mud, you are losing ground.
    Make every new commencement – every new day – something positive, exciting, and beneficial. If that brings a groan, do an attitude adjustment. Remember, the beauty and enjoyment of life is not in a plushy casket at the end; it is in the process along the way.

[While you are pondering all of this, go visit the Book Nook, Hastings, ShopKo, Walmart, and the many other local stores, and pick up a gift for your favorite graduate – high school or college.]