Thursday, May 28, 2015

Graduation Time: The kids in the back row.

Yesterday, we had our Senior Honors Assembly.  340 of our graduates streamed into the gym clad in purple and black all in sync to the familiar beat of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Although they don’t graduate until next week, this event always tugs at my heart strings because it is the first time we see them in their graduation gear and hear “the song.” At this ceremony, the kids are honored with academic pins, high GPA, perfect attendance, and CSF honors.  You have your usual suspects in the first two rows: kids that led clubs, filled AP classes, and are attending UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Davis in the fall.  

Then, you have have everyone else.

It always kind of surprises me when I don’t recognize some of the faces.  As a super involved teacher, I feel as if I am out and about often and immersed in campus culture. Yet, I don’t know many of these kids. Obviously, they are graduating so they did fulfill the requirements necessary, but who are they? What did they do?

This got me reminiscing back to my own high school experience: Kailua High, class of 87...Home of the Surfriders. I was a solid “B” student with the occasional “Cs” and “Ds” in math sprinkled in. “As” found their way onto my report cards in a few spots: I LOVED Theatre, English, and Journalism.  I even won scholarships for my work on the stage and my writing, including a full ride to Hawaii Pacific University as a Sterling Scholar in Theatre.

I was not a valedictorian, I took no AP classes, and I wasn’t in ASB. I didn’t attend football games and was not athletic (even with my 5’10” stature...bummer). I was good at a couple of things and that was it. This has led me to a career that fills my soul and allows me to feel like an "expert" at some level.

I talk to my students about this. It’s okay not to be good in everything; in fact, we don’t NEED you to be good in everything.  Society doesn’t need you to be good in everything.  We need you to be good in a few things and do them very, very well. I don’t really care if my cardiologist has read Hamlet (although that would be cool), but, I want them to be a science nerd. I don’t care of my accountant can dissect a frog, but I want numbers to be their first love. I don’t care if my favorite novelist can solve an algebraic equation...just keep dancing with words.

You get the point.

I love my high achieving kids and am actually in awe of many of them; their work ethic and time management skills alone will get them far in any field they pursue. How on earth can you get straight As over and over again in all subjects?

But, my sweet kiddos that didn’t “do it all” or are carrying a soft 3.3 GPA, find your one or two things you adore and immerse yourselves in them. Become an expert in them. Give that gift to yourself and the world.

And don’t you dare ever feel bad that you are not sitting in the first two rows.


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