What you have taught me

June 11, 2013

Graduation Speech / Class of 2013

Here’s a secret I’ve learned from years of teaching: Many high school students are boring.

But this is the last thing that is true of you. Our conversations this year have given me just a hint of all that you do. You make music. You support your families. You paint and draw. You play sports.  You help your classmates where they are weak. You explore your city. You party.  You volunteer because you love it–not for the hours.

You are a class of students who does things and goes places.  You know Highland Park, Downtown and Hollywood–your cities–better than most of your teachers.

Going to college won’t magically make an unmotivated student motivated… but for those of you who already live a life of activity and service, college is going to give you the skills to do that better.

And because of that, I’m not worried about you. Don’t get me wrong, college is going to be hard, and it’s going to be harder for some of you than for others. But the key to success (and you know a little part of me dies when I say this) is not reading books and writing papers. The key to success is being able to love people, to serve people, to work with people and to live well in your city, your home.

And this, class of 2013, this is what you have taught me this year. You have taught me, by your example, how to unconditionally love and accept each other, how to give people second chances, how to never give up on your friends. You have taught me to take risks, to do the thing that seems impossible. You’ve taught me that when in doubt, sometimes you just need a dance party.

You’ve taught me that if you keep working at it, the thing you don’t understand will eventually become simple.

You’ve taught me that all things, including APEX math and a very long year, will at last come to an end.

Thank you for letting me join you this year.

My charge to you, the class of 2013, is this: Keep exploring, keep taking risks, keep working hard and keep loving each other … and you’re going to be just fine.

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