Candidates for graduation: Congratulations! One of my greatest pleasures of being superintendent is graduation 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. In the past three years I have had the great privilege of getting to know you and watching you mature. Indeed I have grown quite fond of you, and your presence will certainly be missed this fall.
My remarks to the graduating class are typically meant to remind you of the responsibility that you now bear to become a productive member of society, to be successful, and to make us all proud. I offer those same words of advice this afternoon but with the simple caveat: Be happy.
A few weeks ago I was out of the district taking care of a few errands when I happened to run into one of your parents. We exchanged pleasantries and talked about some of the more mundane topics of the day—the weather, a sports season that had just ended, and some of the projects that we were planning around the school. After a few minutes our attention turned to another topic of common interest to both of us: You.
I am sure you know this already, but your parents are awful proud of you. Well, we all are! We talked about the success you have had during this—your senior year. We shared a few memories and highlights of the school year and without really saying it, I think we were both kind of surprised that it was all coming to an end. It is amazing at how quickly the time goes by!
Finally I asked what your plans were for next year. ‘College’ was the answer, and it was shared that you had it narrowed down to two choices. One of the choices would permit you to continue to participate in some of the activities that had brought you so much joy, success, and happiness in high school. The other was a much bigger school where you would probably not have the same opportunities to participate in the same activities as you had in high school, but rather experience new, exciting opportunities and activities. In my opinion, both are solid schools with great reputations and both would permit you to realize your dreams and aspirations.
Well, the next obvious question was, “What is the major going to be?” When I heard what you wanted to do, it was impressive. That is no doubt a major that will lead to a prestigious career where you will have much financial success in life. I thought immediately that you have proven yourself in the classroom, your grades are solid, and that you would be successful.
I kind of wondered though where you had come up with that as a career choice. So I asked, “Why did your child choose that as a career aspiration?” I found out something very interesting—your parent used to do that very thing. You know there are studies that suggest often times young people go into a career that is similar to what their parents do. I thought ‘Wow’, but then in the back of my mind I was immediately wondering why your parent wasn't doing that anymore. So I asked a few questions.
I learned that this parent of yours was successful in this career and had done quite well financially. They were able to provide many, many things for your family. Life was good. The only trouble was the demands of the job. You see, mom or dad wasn’t home very much. They had to work long hours and weren’t able to spend much time with the family. However, the thought was that everything would balance itself out by being able to provide for the family everything they could imagine.
After a while it was realized that all the money in the world was not going to make a person successful and happy—so they got out of the profession. Your parent does something else now and if I had to guess, (well, I don’t have to guess—I could see it in their eyes and the way they lit up when talking about you and the family) they are more successful now than ever—even if no longer in that high powered career.
So then I asked their thoughts about your career choice. Your parent looked me straight in the eye and said, “It doesn’t really matter to me what my child does—I just want them to be happy.”
My advice to you then is the advice that I heard from your parent that day. We want you to be successful, but more than anything else, we want you to be happy.