Posted 5/29/19 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
This past weekend marked a big day for the 2019 graduating classes from Watford City High School, Alexander High School and Johnson Corners Christian Academy as 104 seniors made their way across the stage to receive their diplomas.
For a high school senior, graduation time marks a very significant milestone in their lives. It marks the culmination of 12 years of study, participation in extracurricular school activities, learning to be independent, as well as forming friendships.
But more importantly, high school graduation marks their official passage into becoming an adult and taking their high school education to the next level of their life. For some of this year’s high school graduates, that means attending college to further their education. For others, it may mean entering the military or to try to seek their first full-time job.
High school graduation programs are filled with student commencement speeches challenging the students to dream big and urging them to use the tools that they have acquired in school to be an important part of society.
But how does a student take what they have learned in the past 12 years and apply those skills to their future endeavors? Several years ago, Wayne Lingen, who was then superintendent at Cando and Bisbee-Egeland shared with his senior graduates a message, which he called “Ten Commandments to Graduates.”
Lingen’s message still rings true today, and to the graduating Class of 2019, I would like to share his thoughts with all the recent graduates as they leave high school.
“Ten Commandments to Graduates”
1. Be willing to pay the price. Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement. Someone once approached the great violinist Fritz Kreisler and offered this praise after a concert: “I’d give my life to play as beautifully as you do.” The famed musician responded, “I did.”
2. Be self-disciplined. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that our primary need in life is somebody who will make us do what we can. We’ve all had that somebody at some time or other. But, from now on, YOU yourself will have to be that somebody. You will have to have the wherewithal to make yourself do what you’re capable of.
3. Set some goals. That’s not the same as being disciplined. Discipline is setting your alarm for 5 a.m. and making yourself get up when it goes off. Goal-setting is knowing why you set the alarm at 5 a.m. in the first place.
4. Learn to get along with others. To get along with other people, you have to genuinely care about them. We don’t have friends in our lives until we learn to live and act outside ourselves and care what’s happening in another person’s life and in the community at-large.
5. Be a dreamer. We’ve often heard George Bernard Shaw’s quote: “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”
6. Take risks; but don’t be afraid to fail. The world is full of people who follow wherever the path leads; but we need people in the world who will strike out where there is no path and create a superhighway.
7. Stay informed. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” I hope that after your years here, your mind has been stretched so that you will never be satisfied to stop learning about what’s going on around you.
8. Be ethical. Know when to compromise and when to stick to your convictions. What you once knew to be right and wrong . . . is still right and wrong!
9. Have some fun. Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
10. Define success in your own terms. Someone has aptly observed, “Many people spend their lives climbing the ladder of success only to find when they get to the top that the ladder is leaning against the wrong building. You have to select the way you’ll measure success for yourself.”