May 20, 2012 - By Steven R. PeckThis year's graduates give it a go
Coming up with a life motto when you're 18 years old probably isn't priority No. 1, but our Fremont County high school graduates usually decide to agree on a saying that represents their feelings at the time of high school graduation.
At Wyoming Indian High School, seniors wrote: "To think only of the best, to work for the best, and expect only the best." Look back at your school years. Did you live up to that motto by working to do your best? If not, why not? If not, start now.
"Together we have experienced life," begins the Shoshoni High School motto, "separately we will pursue our dreams, and forever our memories will remain."
The sooner high school becomes a memory rather than an awkwardly pursued model for adult life, the better. Nothing is stranger than the 38-year-old who still acts like he's in high school. If you doubt it, wait until you meet her at your 20th class reunion.
"The past is my heritage, the present is my responsibility, and the future is my challenge." So goes the class motto at Arapahoe Charter High School. For most of us, especially at 18, the present is plenty challenging as well, and you may well be held responsible for your past. Grads, you build your legacy day by day, and they add up fast.
At Riverton High School, seniors opted for "It's not the end of the world, it's just the beginning." Lord knows high school isn't the end of the world. If it is, something is wrong. And actually most us are at least 20 percent through our lives when we are 18. Graduates, you are well under way.
"Don't cry because it's over," reads the Wind River High School motto. "Smile because it happened." Graduating seniors would have mixed emotions about whether the end of high school is cause for shedding tears. The second part of the statement -- smile because it happened -- is a great life lesson for the future, when things, occasions, circumstances and people we care about start getting left behind. One day your memories will be your most prized holdings.
Dr. Seuss found his way into the Lander Valley high School class motto: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." That's clearly an old man talking. To some, choices can be awfully narrow immediately after high school. We appreciate Dr. Seuss, but another piece of advice might be for graduates to sample the choices available now, then work to create a situation as they get older that can provide even more choices. (If only that all rhymed.)
Dubois High School's motto strayed a bit form the typical tone. "Success doesn't occur by spontaneous combustion. You have to set yourself on fire." A common practice, at any age, is to wait around for life to start happening. Some people go to their graves still waiting. That doesn't mean everyone needs to start bungee jumping off skyscrapers before it's too late, but it might well mean learning that life is already "happening," and a lot of it will happen to you if just keep waiting around. If there's something you want to accomplish, what are you waiting for?
St. Stephen's High School seniors have a more downbeat motto, mentioning learning things "the hard way" and acknowledging that perfect endings aren't guaranteed. "Life is about not knowing, it concludes, "having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next."
Certainly some of life deals with uncertainty and responding to the unexpected. But as we get older we do learn more. We know more, we can anticipate more, and we can respond based on accumulated experience. Seniors, one of life's big decisions is a choice between going with the the flow or trying to change it.
Eleanor Roosevelt, one the the 20th century's giants, provided the lovely motto at Pathfinder High School. She wrote "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Believing in beautiful dreams ought to be a hallmark of life at age 18. An equally great beauty takes shape when that belief is carried through life.
Congratulations to the graduates. Keeping moving forward.
-- Steven R. Peck
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