Candidates for graduation: Congratulations! One of my greatest pleasures of being superintendent is this day. With the Administration and members of the Board of Directors, I will have the honor in a few minutes to present you with a diploma from Hudson High School. We are all so very excited and proud of you, and share great joy with your families. I am sure you have been experiencing a mix of emotions these last several weeks. On one hand you are excited to begin the next chapter of your lives, on the other you are sad that you will be parting ways with so many friends that you have grown up with.
A very long journey comes to an end this afternoon, one that was over a decade in the making. You entered these halls as small, young, and impressionable five year olds. Today you will leave as confident (although still young and perhaps impressionable) educated adults with a key that will unlock doors for you: a high school diploma.
At the beginning of each school year as our faculty arrives they are inundated with an inordinate amount of tasks to perform as they prepare for the arrival of students. I remind them annually that their task boils down into one very simple principle: get them ready for what comes next. For the kindergarten teachers, they are simply given the charge: turn them into first graders. For fourth grade teachers: make them fifth graders. And in high school; turn them into responsible adults.
Think a moment about your educational journey. In kindergarten and first grade, you learned to read. In fourth grade you learned about the plant cycle and photosynthesis. During your middle school years (which is probably a time many of you wish to forget) you learned about mythology and were able to experience National History Day. In high school you learned algorithms and trigonometry, how our government works, and proper care of plants and animals. And let’s not forget the most important thing: you learned to drive and experienced freedom for the first time!
There were many lessons along the way, too numerous to list. Teamwork, perseverance, and critical thinking may rank among the top. Many of you learned about relationships, and that hearts indeed can be broken. You learned that life is precious and sometimes cruel.
All during this decade long journey, we have been sitting back and watching, collecting data and taking notes. Your academic progress has been monitored and dissected through multiple lenses; and we fret over whether or not you have met targeted growth on annual assessments. While these are important numbers for us to digest and disseminate, the most important data we collect is what is yet to come. We can boast high graduation rates, and we do. But more important is what you do with your graduation. What does that diploma mean? We think it means an awful lot. Where will you go from here? What will you do with your life? Those are the questions we most want the answer to, because that is what makes a diploma from Hudson High School such a big deal.
You are at an important crossroads right now, and when you part ways after today, be it to go to work at the local welding shop, Coe College to study business, or Loyola to study medicine, we will all be watching, collecting our data and hoping you find success and happiness.
While you leave here with diploma in hand, there is still much to learn. I am more than twice your age and I am still learning every day; how to be a better husband, better father, and better superintendent. It never ends.
In closing it would probably be natural for me to wish you luck as you begin this new and exciting chapter of your lives. However, I believe luck has very little to do with how things unfold for you from here on out. The diploma you earn here today is not a gift or something that you received out of sheer luck. It was earned through a lot of hard work and determination.
So then, don’t let today be an ending, but a beginning. Keep learning. Set goals, persevere, and remember that luck has very little to do with it. We will be watching.