Wednesday, June 8, 2016

To the Class of 2016

Congrats! You have made it. You have managed to make it through four years of high school. It was not an easy journey.  Let me be one of the first to say, "I'm sorry".

You are entering a world that is hurting is many different ways. The economy, wars, civil rights, and so much more are just all over the place. This is the world we present to you. Our bad.

However, I'm not scared. I've been lucky enough to teach many of you and I know one thing for sure; you got this. How do I know? Here a just a few reasons:

You have scars. Don't hide those scars because they are battle scars. You earned them. You fought the good fight and you made mistakes, but they have made you who you are today. These scars are a testament to your willingness to stand up for what is right. We need you to keep fighting and rack up a few more scars if you want to see the changes we need happen. These scars are a symbol to others to let them know that you are a fighter. It will inspire them to fight alongside of you.

I have watched as you have strived to be inclusive and speak out against bigoted behavior. You are no longer the silent Freshman scared of standing out. You are a powerful adult that will not let the vocal minority tear down others. You stand with your peers and shout down the hate and show love and compassion. You give hope to everyone who thinks it is hopeless.

You love so much and so hard. You love all of the things in the world that matter to you and your friends. You love them completely and honestly. You love the unloved and let others know it is ok. You put your arm around your classmates and you let them know it is going to be just fine. You have so much love to give and the world needs it more than ever.

You are failures. You are embracing this word and seeing that it means so much more than not be successful. It means you tried. You wanted to do something and you went for it. It might not have worked out the first or seventh time, but you will not give up. You know that you will build on those failures and not let the world judge you based on those alone. You will continue to try and fail until you get what you want. Your willingness to fail is going to be the one of the most important things needed as you try and change the world.

You are makers. You see a world that needs so much and do not want to wait for someone else to come along and solve the problem. You are getting your hands dirty and trying your best to make something unique and special. You are driven to make the world better and know that you can do it with some hard work and a creative spirit. You have embraced the idea that everyone can make something and you will collaborate with the world to make it happen.

You are happily connected. You are aware of the world around you and are connected to it. You ignore the eye rolls as you scroll through your phone. While others think you are liking a bunch of selfies, you are working on code, or watching a video on how to break down plastics, or brushing up on Physics, or anything you want because you know that your phone is a gateway to unlimited knowledge and you are going to use it. Those connections shrink the world and allow you to see everything around you. It doesn't just create a bubble it breaks bubbles and makes it possible to collaborate with the world.

Lastly, you have already changed the world. Do not let anyone tell you anything different. Do not let anyone tell you that you can't or that you are less than. I've seen you do amazing things and change the world in small ways. These little changes might not seem like they matter to the world, but they matter to those people you have impacted. You made their world a better place. If we can all make the world a little better for our neighbor, we will have succeeded where all others have not.

You know that the world needs change. You know that it can be better for everyone. You know everything that needs to be addressed. So, I leave you with one question,

What are you going to do about it?