Published On: Fri, Jun 9th, 2017

Congratulations to the Graduates, Their Families

This is one of my favorite seasons – not because it signals the end of the cool weather and heralds the summer days but its time when one journey ends – at least in the education process.

Students are. Whether that is going to college, a community college or entering the workforce, it’s an important milestone.

I have delivered the moving on or graduation message at four of our schools in the last three weeks and I was moved by the joy and pride that filled those auditoriums.

In most of the cases, it was clear that the students are ready for the journey that lies ahead.

The Boca Raton Tribune extends heartfelt congratulations to graduating students at all our area high schools and to all those who moved on – whether from fifth grade to middle school or from middle to high school. And let us not forget about our “small fries” as well as our homeschool students who are graduating.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the hard working staff at Daughter of Zion Junior Academy in Delray Beach. I delivered the commencement address to the eighth graders and four days later, I was in the audience as several dozen precocious angels said goodbye to kindergarten and headed to “Big school.”

What was impressive was the level of promise I saw in those students. I have been exposed to a few Head Start programs over the years and I am easily impressed when our babies display that they have mastered the basic alphabet and counting. However, I am yet to see another group of students who left me marveling as those DOZJA students.

They could count and knew their colors in Spanish, they knew antonyms and synonyms and they knew their bible verses. And they were so impressive… I have no doubt those students are ready for whatever academic hurdles that lies ahead.

As I told the graduates and audience at all four events, it took a community – in some cases – to help the graduates achieve this goal. Parents provided nurturing support and at times, the occasional dose of tough love. Mentors played their role and friends and family members offered encouragement.

But it was the teachers who did the lifting. They imparted valuable knowledge and deserves a salute.

I was quite humbled at one of the schools, which had the largest homeless population in the county. As I watched those students walked across the stage, it was obvious to me that their parents did the best they could, given their circumstances.

Many of those students faced hurdles or challenges every day before they arrived at school.  But somehow, some of them seemed to have wings and they just soared over the obstacles and challenges that crossed their path.

It is such a wonderful gift and one that never fails to amaze me. And although, not all of them may have had wings that helped them to soar over obstacles – each and every one of them had feet – feet that they used to climb, bit by bit every day, one day at a time and yes, they all got there. They all achieved their goals!

As I ended each presentation, I left with them my usual parting advice – at least a few:

  • Never stop learning. It’s a lifelong process.
  • Believe you matter … I am sure you have learned that even a 13- or 14-year-old can make a difference in the world. Personally, I believe that all children can make a difference in a world—someone just has to guide them on how to start – and they got their start there at their local school.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak out and help make things better. But listen, too.
  • And remember the golden rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. Be respectful.

They do not seek any praise but their skill and dedication to the task of educating the students is enormous.  On behalf of the community, I say “Thank you”.

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