Grads exhorted to dream big, live fully

Published 6:14 pm Monday, June 14, 2010

“Listen to the mustnt’s, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen tothe shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the neverhaves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child.Anything can be.”

To the school board members, Mrs. Barrett, Mr. Tillman, Dr.Smith, Mrs. Henderson and Mr. Hardy, family, friends, and fellowclassmates, good evening.

It took me until just a few days ago to realize it. I wasstanding in line to get my graduation cap and gown when, all of asudden, it hit me fast and hard.

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I am graduating.

The world does that to you sometimes. It hits you with things.In the match point of a rough tennis match, it hit me with “I’mgoing to have to hit that ball.” And on test day in Mrs. Thames’ APPhysics class, it hit me with “I should have studied a little morelast night.” And these are just my experiences. Here at BHS, we areall challenged. We are all hit hard with realizations, and today,we are going to be hit with the hardest of understandings. Nextyear, we are on our own.

But whenever that hits you, I want you to remember who you are.You are a member of the Class of 2010. That’s an accomplishment.Let me tell you about the Class of 2010. Whenever we moved up toanother school, they knew we were coming. We are a smart class.This year, our band received all-superior ratings for the 12th yearin a row – and how long have we been in the school system? I thinkthat makes us a lucky class. All of our productions have beenbetter than the last. We’re talented too. And last week when thesounds of *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” blasted over the speakers, theentire school watched us dance right here on this football field.We are an exciting class.

I’ll always remember what my second-grade teacher, Mrs.McIntyre, said to us one day.

“Look around,” she said. “Each one of you is going to be someonegreat, and when you are, I’ll say ‘I taught him.'” When she saidthat, we quickly jotted down our autographs and exchanged them,because, according to her, we would be famous one day. I do notrecall who received my autograph, but whoever you are, thanks forbelieving in me, because I still believe in you too. I know all ofyou, and I know that if you believe you can do it, you will do it.My teacher was telling us to think big, and I want to continue herefforts today. Fellow graduates, in all that you do and say andthink and feel, dream big and live fully.

Let’s start today.

Classmates, I want you to feel this moment. Live in it. Itrepresents everything you have ever done in the past 12 years. Inthe words of C.S. Lewis, “This moment contains all moments.” Thinkof everything you have done to get here: the hard things like Mrs.Brewer’s essays or those endless presidential profiles, the funthings like field trips to the zoo or football games, and, ofcourse, those “different” days like when the fire alarm went offdue to a smoke machine in the auditorium. It is not hard to seethat we have had many great moments to get here.

Earlier, I mentioned standing in a line. Standing in a line issimple, but have you ever tried walking in a line? Growing up, itwas so hard for us that our teachers made a science out of it. Inelementary school, we had to walk two tiles from the wall, and wehad to hold our hands behind our backs. We learned discipline. Ourlines were our boundaries.

As we got older, the rules lessened. Now, with no lines and noboundaries, our hands waving free, we are being given theopportunity to walk how we want to walk, and to go where we want togo. But that’s the thing about discipline, when we are taught howto do something, we often continue to do it in that way. So, nextyear when we still find ourselves walking with our hands behind ourbacks, we will remember the lessons learned here, and we will usethem in all of our exciting, new adventures.

But that’s just it. We are going to have to be adventurous. Weare going to have to try new things. And it is going to be scary,and it is going to be tough, because we won’t be together anymore.But listen to these familiar words once spoken by EleanorRoosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Fear isexciting. It means we are trying something new, and that we areexcited about it. We have certainly conquered fear here. I rememberour first day here at the “big” high school. We were smallninth-graders and everyone else seemed twice our size. A flight ofstairs seemed to be lurking behind every corner, and we had to becareful who we asked for directions. But look at us now. The sizeof this school? No big deal. It is a big deal, and we have masteredit.

I want to take this time to thank all of the members of ouraudience. You are our families, our parents, our teachers, ourcounselors, our principals. Without you, we would still be lost.You are part of our Class of 2010 team, and I want to thank you forbeing more than just our administration, for being more than justrole models, for being our friends. Although you may thinkotherwise, we will never forget you.

Graduates, the world is about to hit you again. How will youreact? I hope you hit it back. Dream big. Seek the adventure inevery opportunity. And when you do this, remember Brookhaven HighSchool, and all of us who surround you in a sea of red and blue. Ileave you with more words from Shel Silverstein.

“This bridge will only take you halfway there, to thosemysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirlingArab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come andwalk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wonderousworlds I’ve known. But this bridge will only take you halfwaythere. The last few steps you have to take alone.”

Meredith Jacobs is the daughter of Bill and Amy Jacobs.