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I graduated in the upper 90% of my high school class!

The poster above resonated with me. I volunteered yesterday to serve as a "supervisor" for our large high school's graduation ceremony. About 700 students and their families gathered last night to celebrate this major milestone.

Our district, like our society, is stew of races, religions, ethnicities, and income levels. Our kids run the gamut from world-class athletes and scholars to severely physically and intellectually challenged individuals. Some families came to the event last evening wearing suits, ties, dresses, and gorgeous hijabs; others in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.

But all came to honor the work and perseverance of a young person about whom they care.

Institutionally, we call out the strivers - the honor students, the student council members, the valedictorians. They get special sashes and tassels and fonts in the program. They give speeches and sing songs. Good on them. Well-deserved.

But as the poster above states, I hope we recognize the achievements of all our kids. Graduation for the "C" student who is homeless may have required ten times the effort of the "A" student who could rely on a hot meal, warm bed, and caring adults every day. Perhaps we need an "overcoming adversity" award as well. How about an award for helping a buddy through school? A kindness certificate? A perseverance tassel?

And then there are the many who happily made it through high school without just causing too many waves. I was one of those, graduating somewhere in the middle of my class. (But I always remind my grandsons that graduated in the upper 90%!) I got some recognition in college and professionally later in life, but in high school, I just made it through. Luckily, that was enough for my supportive family.

So congratulate ever kid you know who finished high school (or just the school year). Even if we aren't all world beaters, we still deserve a pat on the back.

Oh, I've been the guest speaker at two graduations. Here are the texts of those talks:

Graduation speech - 1994 

Everything I know in 15 minutes

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