Good morning, Oki, Bonjour and Konnichiwa Catholic Central Community.
Thanks to Mrs. Hartman and “Cougars With Quills” for inviting me to submit a blog post on the occasion of my graduation from Catholic Central. Shakespeare liked to end his Acts with a beautifully succinct couplet – two lines that effectively summarized the preceding events. Would that I had Shakespeare’s talent. This one is going to be a little longer.
I have been a teacher for longer than most of my students have been alive. That truly is the definition of life-long learning. After that length of time, one should have managed to internalize a few lessons.
The first lesson, to use the words of the writer Robertson Davies, is simply this: It does no good to be afraid. In other words, Be Brave. Anxiety is not the same thing as fear; anxiety is nature’s way of telling us that we need to be prepared because something unique or new or unexpected is happening. Anxiety will remind you to make some preparations, to ask for advice and to proceed with a degree of caution. Fear is different. Fear paralyzes our will and prevents us from action. So I say again – Be Brave. Don’t be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, to look foolish. Try new things. Stand up for what you believe. Speak out when you see injustice. Take on challenges and try something new even if you don’t know the outcome. At CCH, you are part of a community who will support you, and I hope we’ve taught you a little about the importance and power of prayer. The Universe was designed to work. Don’t be afraid to discover all its infinite possibilities for you.
The second lesson: Details matter. When we talked to you about “striving for excellence” or being held to a higher standard, we were talking to you about the importance of paying attention to details – or recognizing that “good enough” is not enough. (If you were at the closing Mass, you can insert the Van Halen and M and Ms story here.) So – when I made your lives difficult over things like hats, and cell phones, and dress code, and being late – it’s because I want you to be more than just “good enough”. It is a competitive world out there and the fine details matter – like saying “Please” and “Thank-you”, cleaning up your table in the cafeteria, being on time, being respectful during prayer or moments of silence. When you pay attention to those details, you show your best self.
The last lesson: Everyone you meet in your life has something to teach you. That means that every person you meet has a gift for you and, in return, you are teaching others, whether you realize it or not. Ideally, it’s a positive lesson – someone models for you an action or says something wise and memorable. Sometimes, it’s a negative lesson- one that leaves us thinking, “I’ll NEVER be like that”. Either way, everyone you meet can teach you something, and, by the way, I mean – meet face-to-face- not through (anti-) social media. If you recognize that everyone has a gift for you, then you will automatically treat each person you encounter with respect and compassion. You will see that every person is truly a potential teacher and student, and you will be more likely to grow from your experience. One of the most cherished memories I will take of my years here at CCH are the many gifts and teachings I have received from the students I encountered every day.
Like the graduates, in September I’m going to be in a new place, surrounded by a different culture, hopefully learning a new language and taking the first steps on the next part of my life. Thanks to the CCH community, I can do that without fear, with a focus on excellence and with a lot of gifts that I know will help me on my journey. I hope you can all say the same, when it comes time for you to move on from CCH.
May the Lord bless you and keep you all, safe in the palm of His hand. You have made 37 years seem like a couplet. Thanks. It was fun.
- Carol Koran