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Dear Class of 2020,
It is my distinct honor to write you today, on what would have been your graduation day, this 179th day of your 8th grade year. Or, if you have been counting like me, it has been precisely 539 school days since you hesitantly walked into Period 1 the first day of your 6th grade year. So, what have you done since that moment?
You’ve analyzed in math, characterized in language arts, hypothesized in science, synthesized in STEM, pictorialized in art, harmonized in music, and editorialized in Video Comm. You studied physiology, anthropology, biology, mythology. You’ve mastered 4 million years of history from Australopithecus to Atilla, from Hammurabi to Hamilton. You built robots and skateboards, flew rockets and airplanes. You battled both in tug-a-wars and cupcake wars. You’ve been a scientist, linguist, artist, athlete, mathematician, historian and so much more. You’ve learned in the classroom and more recently, in the dining room. You used Zoom and Teams and stayed connected while staying apart. You endured hardships, made sacrifices, and sometimes served as your own teacher for the final 58 days of your Eighth-Grade year. As you can see, over the past 539 days, you’ve done quite a lot.
So where do you go from here? To high school? Online summer school? To the sink to wash and sanitize your hands for the fifteenth time today? Maybe. But what I really wanted to share with you today, the 539th day of your tenure here at , is that you have a test to take. Yes, I know you received your promotion certificate already and summer break officially starts tomorrow at 12:20, but you do still have a test to take. Surprise! …
You’re probably thinking… what material will this test cover? It covers Everything! Sounds easy, right?
For you see, the test that you must take is your life. Everything that you do, everyone you meet, every thought, action, reaction, consequence and reward will be on this test. Because ladies and gentlemen, life is a test, and EVERYTHING is on it.
Will you need to know how to balance a chemical equation? Translate a linear function? Will you be asked to summarize using Cornell notes? Will you have to run a mile without stopping? Well, if life is a test, and everything is on it, it’s all fair game.
So, before you start your test, I’d like to answer some questions.
it will. It is your life – so make it count!
In a multiple-choice test, you can see all choices laid out before you. You take time to think before carefully choosing the best answer. In our lives, we frequently act as if we only see one choice, even if we are surrounded by many options. In life, there will always be multiple choices for you to select: Left or right, Penn or PV, or math homework. I encourage you to take time to carefully consider all your choices before selecting what is best for you and for others. In your life, you may be presented with a problem in which the correct solution isn’t easy to figure out. Sometimes the solution is hidden deep within layers of distractors. Will finding the right answer always be easy?
No, it won’t.
Don’t pick answer “C” just because someone told you it’s usually right. Instead rely on your own understanding of the problem. Trust facts – not rumors. Trust the knowledge of experts – not the opinions of the misinformed. And sometimes, even when surrounded by choices, every option presented to you will be incorrect. In this case, will you be knowledgeable enough and brave enough to write your own solution?
Remember though, just like a true multiple-choice test, the only way you can truly fail your life test is to avoid answering the question at all.
I prefer pencils. Pencils are the single most important piece of technology that you can own. Pencils have the unique ability to write upside down, underwater, and can be chewed without the fear of a spontaneous explosion all over your desk. More importantly, pencils can erase. And that is why a pencil on this test is preferred. Making mistakes and then subsequently fixing said mistakes is the most essential part of the learning processes. Some people fear making mistakes so much that they give up before they even start. But making mistakes is proof that you are trying. Thomas Edison, when asked about his years of failures in developing the first reliable incandescent light bulb stated “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Don’t fear mistakes. Embrace it! Learn from it! Use your pencil, erase, and start over.
Sometimes. You will often find yourself in situations both in school and beyond in which you will rely on others. Whether it is with classmates, coworkers, friends, family, or your squad, the world in which we live embraces collaboration. When working with others, always contribute your fair share and do a little bit more. Be responsible and timely. Don’t be the leader all the time. Don’t be a follower all the time. Don’t talk too much – listen to others. Don’t just listen to others – share your opinions too. And perhaps the most important – always show respect and kindness.
In life, teachers are not your only evaluators. Your life test will be assessed by your family, friends, coaches, colleagues, and even strangers. So therefore, make impactful contributions to your community. Do things not only for the betterment of yourself but for betterment of others. Stand up for those who can’t. Give a voice to those who have been silenced. Lend a hand to those who have greater needs than you. And if you’re looking to earn some extra credit – say please and thank you often, volunteer regularly, and show appreciation for this wonderful journey called life.
Will this test be difficult? You bet – Everything is on it!
Will you fail? Yes, unfortunately you are destined to have setbacks. Learn from them, however. Persevere.
Will you succeed? For your sake and all of ours – I hope so. Surrounding you is community of supporters ready to celebrate your future successes.
I would like to leave you with some final words of encouragement seeing that this test will be handed out soon. I’d like to tell you to shoot for the moon and that you’ll do great. But that’s unrealistic, the moon is 238,900 miles away and the space between is an inhospitable vacuum.
So instead, I’d like to end with the same seven words you have heard me say as we began every test together this past year:
Good luck, have fun, make good choices.
Congratulations Class of 2020!
***Additional short videos to supplement the notes***
***Additional short videos to supplement the notes***