Class of 2017, you’ve certainly left your mark on Lawton High School. As I reflect on the many accomplishments of this class, I’m truly amazed, impressed and optimistic about your futures. As a school district, we have strived to provide you with meaningful opportunities that allow each of you to achieve your potential. As a group, you are a strong representation of that mission. You are a class of many talents having demonstrated success in academics, career and technical education, athletics, and the arts. While there are many examples of this success that I could share, I will highlight just a few today.
- Of the graduating seniors in this class, 46 (well over half) are graduating with honors for having earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. This was accomplished without sacrificing rigor as many of you have tested yourselves with challenging courses that have you well prepared for college. Your efforts have helped Lawton High School be recognized with the 2017 Silver Medal from US News and World Report which places LHS among the top 10% of the over 1,000 high schools in Michigan.
- Each of you has either enlisted in the military or applied to at least one college and many of you plan to attend college to pursue a variety of careers. I want to stress the importance of choosing a path and remaining focused on where you want to be in the future. One of my favorite songwriters, the great Roger Waters provides fair warning in his classic song Time which says: And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. Don’t let this be you. I’m telling you today – it’s time to run.
- Further demonstrating the versatility of this class, you’ve also experienced co and extra-curricular success including Division I band ratings, honors choir selections, district and regional sports titles, all-state individual honors, academic all-state team honors, and of course a powerlifting state championship.
- It is also remarkable that this class includes individuals who have enlisted in each of the 4 major branches of the armed services. At this time I would like to ask those individuals and all veterans and active service men and women to stand and be recognized for your sacrifice and commitment to the safety of our country. Thank you.
Thought #1: Live life with Integrity. What exactly is integrity? I believe it can be summed up quite simply. A person of integrity follows through when they give their word thereby earning trust. The relationships we’ve developed and will develop in the future cannot thrive in the absence of trust. Be a person whose word means something.
Thought #2: Live a life of Service. There is an old gospel song that includes the following lyrics – “If I can help somebody as I pass along then my living shall not be in vain.” This song and its message affected many great leaders including Martin Luther King who said “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is What Are You Doing for Others”. Imagine a world where everyone was as concerned with serving others as they were about serving themselves.
Thought #3: Slow Down. And while it may be good and needed advice, I’m not talking about your driving. Rather I encourage you to slow down and think before passing judgment. Just last week I was in a McDonalds drive thru. This day was like most others for me and I was in a hurry to get back to the office. There was just one vehicle ahead of me. In the vehicle were two elderly gentlemen who seemed to take more time than was necessary paying for their order. I immediately grew impatient about the delay. As I pulled up to the window, money in hand, my impatience quickly turned to remorse as the cashier informed me that the gentlemen in that vehicle ahead of me had paid for my meal.
And finally, Thought #4: Think Freely and Act Responsibly. I am honestly concerned about the current state of American society. We are rapidly losing our ability to engage in respectful discourse with those who hold differing viewpoints from our own. We are becoming more and more politically fractured. When bones are fractured, we place a cast on them. I encourage the youth of today to be that cast. Don’t allow anyone to place you in a silo and insist that you think in a certain way. Stay informed on the issues that affect you and the world around you and then engage in the process in a respectful, responsible manner. Remember, whether we lean left or right, we all pledge allegiance to the same flag and we are all Americans.
And you will always be Lawton Blue Devils. Thank you.