Late last fall when I started thinking about making 2020 plans, early June showed up on my radar for a family event.
Prior to the pandemic shutting down much of American society, I was hoping to make a brief weekend trip to Texas so I could attend my nephew’s high school graduation.
That potential trip, which I was hoping to swing in early June, was scrubbed earlier in the spring.
I did, however, get to attend one graduation. It was here in town for the Shelby High School Class of 2020 as part of a parking lot-based, drive-through event to meet social-distancing guidelines in the coronavirus era.
I had never attended any event like it, and looking back it, I consider it very memorable to this day.
I particularly enjoyed the speech of John Gies, the Shelby High School principal.
As Mr. Gies spoke, I briefly flashed back to my own high school graduation from Sylvania Southview High School in the Toledo area.
I definitely remember my graduation in our high school gym, but I don’t remember any of what was said to our graduating class.
As I recall the 2020 graduation here in Shelby, I thank Mr. Gies for providing a refresher of sorts for me.
“My vision for the Class of 2020 is that you will continue to focus on your relationships with others, learn from both the good and bad in your life, and use your gifts and abilities to be as successful as you can be,” he said.
What Gies said next really got my attention as someone whose high school years and accomplishments — particularly in sports, getting started in journalism and lifelong friendships — definitely represent high-water marks in multiple ways to this day.
Gies said he tells “each graduating class that while high school years are fun and memorable, they better not be the best years of your life.”
“There is so much more ahead of you,” he said.
Gies noted “a popular saying that says there is a reason that the rear window of a car is smaller than the windshield.”
“Where you have been is important, and you need to see it,” he continued. “But seeing what lies ahead of you is much more important.”
Earlier, Gies told the graduating class: “There will be bad times and good times all throughout your life. Be sure to embrace both. The bad times will end, and hopefully, you will be stronger. Be grateful for what you have and for all of the gifts you have received.”
Some words by Shelby High School valedictorian Morgan Gove also struck a chord with me as someone who is still trying to figure out what happened to some of my own high school friends/teammates. (Hint: they are not on Facebook, and I’ve never seen them at any reunions).
As part of her remarks, Gove spoke of keeping “the bonds we have made with each other as we all go our separate ways.”
“I might talk to some of you for the rest of my life, or I might never see some of you again,” she said. “Either way, I want us to know that we all came together at this one moment to take a huge steppingstone in our lives and graduate from high school.”
The lessons live on.