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Hot Topic: The shortest graduation speeches in the world

  • Bow seniors Jessie Andrus and Erin Inks chat while waiting for the graduation ceremony to start at Bow High School on June 8, 2013.   <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bow seniors Jessie Andrus and Erin Inks chat while waiting for the graduation ceremony to start at Bow High School on June 8, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bow seniors Jessie Andrus and Erin Inks chat while waiting for the graduation ceremony to start at Bow High School on June 8, 2013.   <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Last week we challenged readers to write tiny graduation speeches: their best advice for high school seniors in 200 words or fewer. The response was overwhelming! Here are some more fun submissions – and we’re not done yet.

You are more

than just numbers

Do not let numbers define you. When you leave high school, nobody cares about your SAT scores. Your business card will have your cell phone number, not your GPA. When you meet someone, you won’t shake their hand and say, “Hi, I’m Jennifer, I was third in my class.” Such things are important to parents and college admissions departments. After you graduate, though, no one cares.

When you’re looking for a job, your salary is not the only thing which will make you happy. Sure, it’s important to pay your bills, but someone who is paid more does not necessarily have more fun, more friends or better stuff. It’s what you do with what you have.

If you insist on quantifying something, count the healthy relationships in your life, not just the number of Facebook friends you have. Add up the places you’ve visited, the volunteer positions you’ve held, the hours of free time you have to enjoy life.

Really, though, just forget the numbers. You can’t give a score to love, fun and happiness. Simply having more of them is enough.



A moral compass

Develop and use a moral compass. It will guide you through your life. Don’t lose it. Develop your skills so you can rely on yourself as much as possible. Don’t expect anyone to give to you what you should obtain for yourself. Do the right thing even when no one is looking.

Be humble. Be kind to all less fortunate living things. Take care of what you have. Every day, behave your way into who you ultimately want to be in your life. To whom much is given, much is expected: identify and use your talents for the general good and personal happiness. Go with your gut. Don’t ever give up on a situation, another person or yourself. Life is a process: When a door closes, a window opens. Look for that window, however small. Forgive others and yourself. Always give your best effort: Be the best dishwasher, floor sweeper, doctor, mother, father that you can be. At the end of the day, you have to live with your choices. Happiness and triumph do not always shine brightly; look for small pleasures and have courage every day.



(The writer is a teacher in Chichester.)

Three simple rules

Learned from being a parent and a college teacher:

1. Sometime take a year break and do anything else, other than be a student. Then return refreshed about your direction.

2. Plan to break some molds – so many choices exist to be tried and tested.

3. If it keeps you happy to bring your pet turtle with you, and you sleep better at night – do that.



‘I don’t care’
isn’t the answer

e_SSLq So, Johnny, would you like to stay for dinner?”

“I don’t care,” came the answer.

That was a very long time ago, but I remember thinking that the answer was not acceptable. Today I reflect upon that when adults give the same kind of answer to far more important questions.

So many people fancy themselves to be philosophers with statements such as, “Practice random acts of kindness.” That’s great but, do it! If you are going to talk the talk, make very sure you walk the walk. Try to realize that the elderly person has much to offer you with insight, the handicapped person has dealt with things beyond your imagination, the “different” person may introduce you to something you never would have experienced, the criminal has qualities, the diseased appreciate everything more than you’ll ever know and the culturally different can allow you to explore a completely different world.

When you are asked if you’d like to stay for dinner, don’t say, “I don’t care.”



(The writer owns a vineyard/winery with her husband, Peter.)

You are not the center of the universe

Congratulations. Legally you are now considered to be an adult, a person responsible to pay bills, marry, raise a family, prepare for a career, and contribute to society. May you find this new role exciting, fun and personally fulfilling. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Be kind and considerate as you venture forth into a new world. Look for ways each day to make a difference. Offer a friendly smile, a held door, a polite greeting. All are great ways to begin and they cost you nothing. Learn that there is a law of reciprocity – that what you do to others has a way of coming back to you. So, make sure that you give your best, and you will receive the best.

Be grateful to others and express that gratitude in big and small ways. Encourage others so that someday you will receive the encouragement you will need. Believe in someone or something greater than yourself. This will assure you that you are not the center of the universe. Everyone will like you better if you understand that fact. Live life as if you have something to offer, because you do. You are unique and special, so live life with that fact in mind.



(The writer is a certified consulting hypnotist at Lakes Region Hypnosis Center.)

Life is too short

Find something you enjoy and learn to do it well so that you may earn a living. Life is too short to hate what you do 40-50 hours a week. Also remember: It is unrealistic to expect to remain in one profession for 40-45 years.

Don’t let your student loan burden exceed what you can expect to earn in two to three years post college, i.e., don’t spend $100,000 on a bachelor’s degree in sociology when there is no chance you can earn $35,000 to 50,000 a year after you graduate. If you spend that on an engineering degree, it is probably money well spent. Sad but true.

Friends are important but don’t put too much stock in your teenage relationships or miss out on important opportunities because of them. If you refuse to go away to school, join the Peace Corps or military or partake in any other adventure just because of your friends, you’ll miss out on a great deal. If people are truly your friends, they will be there for you regardless.

Learn the value of delayed gratification. Whether it’s postponing physical pleasure in a new relationship, learning to save for a purchase instead of buying it on credit, or reaping the rewards of some other treat it is a valuable lesson.

Start saving for retirement with your first job. Never underestimate the power of compound interest in a small mutual fund! Also, always be willing to share a bit of what you have with the less fortunate. Just by virtue of being born in the United States you are far richer than many in this world.

Don’t forget to be kind and to have a little fun!



Rocking chair question

As you are unshackled from attending classes and go out to pursue the rest of your life, the moment has come to ask and answer the Rocking Chair Question.

That question arises as you sit in the rocking chair on the porch of the ol’ people’s home, appreciating one more sunset in your waning years and in reflecting back on what you have done, and not done, before you came to rest in the rocking chair.

You ask yourself: What am I most proud of having done in my years until now?

Your answer to that question is what you should do next.


Alton Bay

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