I’ve often wondered: how do you cram four remarkable years of being a Three Rivers Bulldog into a few minutes? As I ponder this question a poem I received, as a GOLD Delegate in 2006, comes to mind. This poem is entitled “How Do You Live Your Dash”:
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning ….to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following dates with tears.
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent on earth….
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little dash is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house….the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know now much time is left.
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real.
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash….
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
When I think of my Three Rivers High School experience and how the Graduating class of 2009 has lived our dash I don’t just think of crowded hallways, Mrs. Lowe’s famous breakfast tacos and PB&J’s, and the formula of Glucose- C6H1206, which is drilled into our brain by Mrs. Larson. I think of people, lots of diverse people. People of different faiths, incomes, gifts and talents. I think of students so involved in extra curricular activities that they have to schedule in time to go to the bathroom. I think of students who go to school and then work 40 hours a week to help support their families and pay for college. I think of coaches both athletic and academic, inspiring and shaping a small student body to excel on the field, in the debate room, and in the classroom. I think of students and teachers with disabilities who come to school everyday with a big smile on their face, ready to work, proving that nothing can crush the human spirit. I think of a football team who everyone picked as the underdog and then proved everyone wrong by becoming Bi-district champs. I think of a UIL Academic dynasty that surprised everyone and won Regional Academic Runner Up for the first time in the school history. I think of a young girls track team, winning District with hard work and determination. I think of a kooky One Act Play Cast and Crew that performed a dangerous and zany play, “Fuddy Meers”, placing Alternate to State, and missing it by just a hair.
Without the tenacity, compassion, and humility of our senior class all of these experiences would not have profoundly impacted my life. Tenacity, compassion, and humility, these three powerful words describe our senior class. We held tight to our childhood friendships, like a tenacious bulldog that never lets go. We showed love and kindness to a fellow classmate grieving the loss of his mother. Through serving our community, respecting our dedicated teachers, and listening to parental advice, we humble ourselves and submit to others by placing their needs above ours.
In today’s culture more and bigger is seen as better, however by growing up in a small town we learned to live with tenacity, compassion, and humility. These three qualities will give us a solid future foundation against the storms of life that lie ahead. Ghandi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Fellow graduates, that is my challenge for you tonight. Be a leader and an agent of change in your world.
Tonight we celebrate our accomplishments as we set our sails, leave our safe harbor and embark upon our journey of life. Among us are the future Maya Angelou’s and Bill Gates’. Our class may produce the engineer who develops an efficient engine, the doctor who cures cancer, the teacher or professor that shapes the next generation of youth, the chef who cooks better than Rachel Ray or Emeril. Or even the first woman president, if she can beat Hilary. We have the creative potential for the next Spielberg, Kate Winslet, or even J.F.K, Jr. Fellow classmates, our journey is just beginning. Our achievements in athletics, performing arts, and academics prove that despite being a small community, all things are possible, including miracles. Let us laugh, dance, and celebrate tonight as we continue our vertical voyage, reaching for the stars and excellence, never settling for mediocrity. We are each given but one life or dash so that we can make a difference. Fellow graduates, how will you live your dash? In a world full of violence and hate, I challenge you to rise above the stereotypical apathetic teenager and make a difference. You have the power to do anything and achieve everything, and soar beyond all expectations. You are strong, intelligent, diverse, passionate, and ready to fill your dash with new adventures. Go out and take the world by storm. Ready or not, here we come!