Every year (for the last 40+) at about this time I have had the same thoughts and emotions. It’s an occupational hazard for teachers of high school students, especially those who have been as fortunate as I have been.

For so many years I have been overwhelmed by the passion and determination, care and consideration of my fellow teachers. They literally provide blood, sweat, and tears for their students. More than that, though, they are such incredible inspiration for young lives just beginning their journeys, finding their own passions. I have known teachers who have given more to their students than to their own children. Why? I suppose because they feel the responsibility, the tremendous burden, of helping someone else, and count on the same care from their children’s teachers. Maybe, like me, they are truly blessed to have spouses who help so much.

Over and over, as well, I have watched those children—other people’s children—step forward and receive their first, most significant recognition as adults: a high school diploma. Oh, my…I won’t even attempt to name names, but I have been privileged to see some incredible people take that leap from the nest and then absolutely soar to the very stars. They are farmers, teachers, mothers, fathers, scientists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, business persons, doctors, lawyers, machinists, thinkers, dreamers, artists, poets, musicians, dreamers…. I watch those beautiful young people step off the stage with their diplomas, and I can see them taking wing into their futures.

I hope they know that the wings with which they fly are the very lives of their parents, the efforts of their teachers, and the wishes of all of us who watch them leave the grounding of their childhood for the thin air of the future. It’s scary, because only they can really make that future for all of us.

I also hope they know how proud we are of all they have accomplished. “Congratulations” doesn’t seem like enough, but it’s all we have left sometimes because we have given everything else already.

So…once again: Congratulations to the Class of 2014, whether you’re graduating from high school or college or graduate school. We made it. Now make yours.

DrDan 05/14/14

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