Congratulations Class of 2010

This past week, Fairfax County's seniors, the Class of 2010, graduated.  My husband, David, teaches English at our local high school, and was voted by the seniors to give the Commencement speech at the graduation ceremony.  He was introduced at graduation as "hard & crunchy on the outside but soft & chewy in the middle."  The student speaker joked about how Dave used to make fun of a student because of his long hair, but they thought it was only becase he was jealous because he doesn' have any hair.  The student introducing him also told a story relayed to him by a teacher: "I mentioned to David that I was hungry in school one day & had forgotton my lunch.  When I got back from teaching my next class, there was a happy meal waiting on my desk for me."


{Dave with the boys}

I loved his speech and wanted to share it with you.  (I'm not including the ad-lib funny parts, because you had to be there for those ;)  I know it meant a lot to the kids & parents there...


{The Graduation at the Patriot Center}


"Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Colleagues and Guests, Principal Bates and of course Class of Two Thousand and Ten, it is a great honor to be here before you speaking today.

Eleven years ago I sat where you are now, looking up at some old, bald guy telling me that he once sat where I was sitting... But I all I could think about was when is his speech going to end so I can get to beach week at where else? The Jersey Shore.

The moral of this story is that by the age of twenty-one this attitude had me bald with a terrible GPA and nothing but a couple of Beer-Pong Trophies to show for it. I made a lot of bad choices in my youth and I've spent the past seven years working harder than I’d ever thought possible to remedy them. Immanual Kant says ‘the only thing that can bring you morals are the starry sky above and the moral law within” and Saba (a student) has fallen asleep. Just like class.

Fine, I get it, no Kant. But seriously listen… you are the result of the choices you make. How about a Batman Quote?  It’s not who you are inside but your actions that define you. Better? It’s not who you are inside but your actions that define you. The scary thing about this is that half the time you don’t even realize the choices you’re making because you’re just doing what you always do- what you’ve always done. When you’re in a situation for the first time- that’s when you think about what you’re going to do and why. The first time you get too much change back at McDonald’s: Are you thinking, “Sweet, I’m sure I’ve overpaid before,” or are you thinking about that worker’s register coming up short at the end of his shift and that money coming out of his paycheck? Say you take the money, no biggie, fine- but the next time you’re given too much change, that money just goes right into your pocket; you don’t need to think about it. You’ve already had this conversation with yourself, why have it again?  You’re on auto-pilot. How about the first time someone calls you a bad name in elementary school?  You have to think about how you will react- you can:

A) call them one back – even though mom said not to call names

B) punch them in the face – they do have it coming

or

C) walk away – everyone’s going to make fun of you

You choose your action.  But no need to think about it next time. Next time you’re just going to react. Get it?   Re- Action- Repeat your Action. Eventually we all are faced with enough situations that we stop thinking about why we are doing something and just do what we’ve always done in that situation. This is now who we are. Sometimes people will observe our behaviors and label us. What a “Pyscho!” What an “Idiot!” She is such a “blank.” He such an “blank.”  (My speech got edited ;)   But you know what kind of labels are out there. And more importantly, what kind of behavior gets you those labels. The sad part is, when you got that label you probably didn’t even think about what you were doing, you were just reacting, doing what you always do in that situation. That’s why those initial choices are so important.

At twenty-one years old, I realized I didn’t like who I was. I met this girl who kept telling me “that’s not ok,” when I would do something morally wrong, and the funny thing was, deep down I knew she was right: How I was acting didn’t reflect who I was inside. I had to figure out why. I started thinking about why I was doing the things I was doing (like punching people in the face) and then I had to change how I handled those situations... (Actually she stills tells me when I’m not doing the right thing, but it's way less often now.)

I want to do the same favor for you. Class of 2010, you’ve made many achievements and accomplishments in your four years here at Herndon and I have truly enjoyed teaching you.... but… not all of you have been the model of good behavior. Secretly, I think that’s why you picked me to make this speech. You knew you would get honesty.... So some of those choices you’ve made these past four years: “That’s not ok.” So think about how you came to those decisions.

All of you are going to be faced with many new situations in college and in the “real world” and you are going to be in some familiar situations. When someone asks you to go out drinking what are you going to say? What about Sex? or Drugs? What happens if you say ‘yes’ to the first one, do you answers to the second two change? How about Cheating? Plagiarizing? Speeding? I’m just saying… think about where you stand on these things and why.   I’m telling you this because nobody told me this.  College is the chance to start over. You can change that label - You can change your answers to those questions, or if you like them, keep them the same. Just take this opportunity, Class of 2010, and think about who you've been the past four years. Do you want to be the same person? You are the only one who can answer this and you know deep down there is something you want to change.
Do it.
Make it happen.
Be BOLD.
Be who you want to be, not who you’re friends want you to be.
Let your actions define you proudly.

...And oh yeah- Congratulations! "


I'm so proud of him and won't go on about my feelings to save you from my cheesiness.  But Congratulations to all of you moms with graduating seniors and YAY FOR SUMMER VACATION!!!



xoxo, Lauren

42 comments:

Design Esquire said...

What a wonderful speech. I have goosebumps! That was absolutely perfect for the occasion, and something those seniors (and parents!) will remember. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Sweet! Terrific words...teachings.

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

Very inspiring and true, thanks for sharing. These are the things I am trying to teach my children now, from a young age, that they are making choices that determine the people they are becoming and the lives they will have, now. I wish I had been told these things!
Janell

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

Your husband is a smart man! Thanks for sharing!!

Moxie Maley said...

Great speech! You have a great husband!

L said...

Wonderful speech full of wise words!!

Style Chronicle said...

What an honest, heart-felt, inspiring speech. I am sure those graduates will tuck his words away and come back to them again and again as they navigate their way into the big wide world. I am so thankful for teachers like your husband who give themselves so wholeheartedly to the next generation. BTW, I am a Fairfax County Public School Grad!! Go class of '95 :)

Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

What a wonderful speech...what a great hubby!!

kiley said...

Wow, wonderful! I work at George Mason. Where does your husband teach English? I have a good friend who teaches high school English at Yorktown. Small world. I love your blog, by the way, and glad to see "locals" in the design world.

A Meek Perspective said...

Such great thoughts! My son will begin his senior year in the fall and I am already composing a letter to him for when he graduates. If you two don't mind, I have copied a part of this speech to put in my file for thoughts on this letter. Great speech.

vignette design said...

Oh Lauren, thanks for sharing your husband's speech. Very inspiring! I have a son in the second year of college who is coming home today for the summer. He will study in Italy in the Fall and we are hoping it is life changing for him. Your husband's words really touched me about making the wrong choices. My son recently got in to a fight. Poor choice! Alcohol in college is so accepted too. I can only hope he turns out as good as you hubby! What a keeper.

JNoPie said...

Thank you so much for sharing that! Those are wonderful words of wisdom for anyone to hear at any age! You must be very proud of your husband--he is obviously making an impact on his students' lives.

Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury said...

Excellent speech. Smart and honest. Lucky students to have received such good guidance from a teacher who obviously cares very much and really gets what they're about to face out in the world. Lucky you too, Lauren, to have such a man to raise your sons with. The "crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle" kind are the best!

A Perfect Gray said...

fantastic! I am way past school and graduations but the words ring true for everyone, at any stage in life.

thanks for sharing the beauty that is inside your husband...

Amy R said...

What a great speech! I wish we had heard that one when I graduated 14 years ago! Some alumni student who had gone on to Harvard spoke and it was not as inspiring, because I can't even remember what he said. I also gave one of the speeches, so maybe I was more nervous about getting up there to really listen. :) Can I borrow this when my girls grow up and are graduating? Thanks!

Peggy and Fritz said...

Love Love Love it. I'm forwarding it to my friend who's a teacher to read to her students. She works in a challenging area in CA and she is always looking for creative solutions and words of wisdom for her students. Couldn't have been said any better. What a lucky woman you are to have a husband that is so caring about his students! Beautiful.

Ann

Sherry said...

great advice...even for us 40-year olds.

The Misty Journey said...

awesome speech! it is so true that we have to watch our path and constantly be intune to change the little bad habits we develope the things we let slip that we shouldn't. what a great way to have them never forget that we have today and we can always change.

Saara @ GEORGE Interior Design said...

What a great speech....I love those moments when I take a minute to look at my husband like I'm not his wife and realize how proud I am to be with him. I can see you are having one now! David seems like a great guy...you're very lucky and so are your boys! Happy summer vaca!

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

what a fabulous speech. those kids are lucky to have had him as a teacher and to have received such raw honesty as a gift. maybe they will think about the choices they make and realize that their decisions reflect themselves. it takes time and getting away from high school sometimes to find that inner certainty of who we are. i am so glad you were able to help your husband discover his true self again, too! :)

Karena said...

Lauren so poignant and touching, aren't you proud! Teachers can have such great influence on our youth.

I am having a great Designer Giveaway from Pilow Mint, come and join!

Karena
Art by Karena

Linda in AZ * said...

* Pardon me, sweet LAUREN, but I'd like to address this to DAVID:

*** Teachers like you are what we NEED, David... the sheer honesty of your "been there, done that" carries far more weight & impact than some ol' fart, man or woman, simply "preaching" to that sea of eager, young faces about to be set free on the unsuspecting world!

I SO ADMIRE your CARING enough to be SO HONEST with grad class 2010~~~ it's something they can hold on to, unlike MOST grad speaches... I hope they DO, and I think they certainly WILL...

They admire you... alot (!), and I do too, David. THANK YOU for giving SO MUCH MORE than expected!!!

And Lauren, you have ALL the RIGHTS in the world to be proud of this man/husband/teacher, who TRULY has his act TOGETHER, and knows what's HONESTLY IMPORTANT! What a BEAUUUUTIFUL T*E*A*M you two make, and how lucky your darling children are to be raised by both of you!!!

Love,
Linda in AZ *
bellesmom1234@comcast.net

Cyndia said...

Have you thought about hiring David out to do more of those speeches? I had tears running down my face reading that. I am so touched & proud every time I read of good teachers like him. They are so few & far between. Kids don't need to hear the bull; they want it honest & direct, & they certainly got it with this speech. Give him a hug from this mom whose kids are likely your ages. Y'all are good people!

Christine said...

Everyone needs a good graduation speech once in a while. It's inspiring and applicable, and really made me think. Thanks for the post!

Marissa Breann said...

Wonderful speech! Thanks for sharing!

Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

My oldest graduates high school next month (Overseas school) and I'm going to have him read this. Thank you for putting these words together. I so wish I would have pay attention to who I wanted to be earlier.

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

What a wonderful speech I am sure they will remember for years to come for its relevance.

Funny Story, George Bush (JR) spoke at my sisters' HS graduation when he was then Governor of TX. He started the speech with "10 years from now you will not remember this speech....." Of course, that is all I remember of the speech!

Kara said...

Just beautiful. I work for a small private college and I tell my students the very same things.

I can see why the students connect with him. He get's it. Great speech.

Smileyisles said...

Wow! What a great speech. Thanks for sharing.

Alison said...

Lauren that is a wonderful speech. You must be so proud of him, he's a great man. Lets hope that the class of 2010 take the chance and be brave enough to make their lives what they really want it to be
Alison

Olive said...

That is an amazing speech! I think every high school student should hear that. Most importantly, from their parents. I think some parents pass the buck too much and want the schools to teach their children about life, morals, ect... Or maybe some are just not able to teach that to their kids themselves. I think it is wonderful that your husband was able to pass on his experience and hopefully they listened. It will make their lives much easier if they did!

You have a wonderful husband and father to your children! Have a wonderful weekend!

Living It At Home said...

oops! The comment above is really from me. I went on my daughter's blog, Book Jacket, when she was signed in and wrote you from there! It looks like she wrote it but she didn't. Sorry! Have a nice day!

SogniSorrisi said...

What a heartfelt speech. Your husband sounds like a really wonderful guy!

liza said...

That is a really good, really useful graduation speech! I'm going to print it and save it for my son (who will graduate in 13 years). Thank you!

Dagny @ Scandinavian Chic said...

Wow, what a beautiful speech!!! Perfect!

Well done, Dave, I actually think you could have made a difference!

xx
dagny

Ellen said...

What a nice guy you have....smiles.

pretty pink tulips said...

Tears in my eyes ---- I'm sure that David impacted a number of young lives the day he gave that speech. Sounds like he's been making some good choices!

怡君 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。......................................................................

barbara@hodge:podge said...

Wonderful speech and hats off to Dave. I worked as a teacher for Fairfax County as well while we lived there. Sniff... it is a great school district with fabulous schools and great teachers. My kids loved going to school there. My two oldest would of been at Oakton and younger at Carson Middle (another fabulous school!)

Glad I was able to live in that most wonderful area, it has shaped out family for the better.

Enjoy your summer break with hubby at home!

Windlost said...

Just beautiful, brave words Lauren. You must be so proud of him! I am!

xo Terri

Kris said...

Way too often I find myself wondering where all the good people have gone to. Right now I'm thinking that I think I just found one. Thanks for using your influence on these kids to point them toward doing good.

Kathysue said...

Love the picture of Dave and the boys, too precious,Kathysue