Tonight my youngest brother graduates from high school. When he was born, I was suffering through senior year calculus in that same high school and daydreaming about being free from whatever it is you learn in calculus. My uncle, a teacher at the school, called me out into the hall to tell me Sean was born. I was 17. Now he is 17, and leaving high school. Excuse me while I have a where did the time go moment.
|Congrats to my cousin Courtney, who is also graduating from Neshaminy tonight|
In hindsight, high school graduation is like standing at the precipice of the Grand Canyon and peering down into the abyss, thinking, "How do I navigate down there without killing myself? Am I strong enough to make it back up?" Of course I wasn't thinking this the night I graduated in June 1995. I was thinking about what color comforter I wanted for my dorm room at the University of Delaware, if my precisely curled under bangs would hold up under the rain that was supposed to arrive later in the evening, and going to get something to eat at Houlihan's with my friends when graduation was over. I thought of anything besides leaving the familiar in August.
It is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o'clock.
~Woody Allen, "My Speech to the Graduates," Side Effects, 1980
High school graduation brings enormous change - every day for 13 years you got up and you went to school, and you had a lot of safety nets. College is an abrupt on your own experience - the courses are harder, the professors don't give a crap about your excuses, everyone has a hangover and yours is not the worst, and you must sail your own ship.
Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.
Sean is heading to Villanova in the fall to study business and play soccer on a scholarship. He's smart and has taken honors and AP classes throughout high school. He's committed: four to five times a week he heads to North Jersey after a full day of school to practice and travels around the country throughout the year to play soccer with the Red Bull Academy. He was kicking a soccer ball around as soon as he could walk, and it shows on the field. I was away at college during most of his baby years, but I never remember him playing with anything besides a soccer ball.
He has many hidden talents, like imitating accents and killing it on stage in the drama club, which I saw him do twice this year. Once in a play, which is hard enough, then once at Improv night, which I can't even imagine thinking quickly enough or being brave enough to do.
As you can see, Sean with all of his talents and accolades is a source of much pride for me and my family.
But the thing I am most proud of is not an award he's received or the induction into the National Honor Society or the scholarship he's worked hard to get. The thing about my brother that I admire most is that he is kind. He thinks of others and their needs and feelings; and that's not very common in a 17 year old male. It's one of the most selfish times in our lives as humans. He is a good person with a good heart and that is what I'm most proud of today, the day of his high school graduation.
From a little boy with blond curls and tiny sambas to a grown up with adult aspirations and a great sense of humor and self...congratulations, Sean. I love you.
As Neshaminy recedes in your rearview, I know you will continue to learn and grow and kick ass on the field at Villanova. And I know you will continue to be kind and humble and excellent in whatever you decide to do, in this new chapter of your life and beyond.
There is a good reason they call these ceremonies "commencement exercises."
Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning.
~ Orrin Hatch
Congratulations class of 2012 - be a positive force in the world, in whatever way you can.