Welcome to the end of another great school year (or almost the end of the school year)! Regardless of our age, occupation, or station in life, the onset of the warmer weather, longer days and numerous celebrations of graduations, spring and summer weddings, proms, confirmation ceremonies and back yard barbeques generally warms our hearts, relaxes our minds, and gives us cause to enjoy the moment. Think back to your own years in school. Who didn’t count down the days to summer vacation? Who doesn’t recall those final days with friends prior to graduation? Who doesn’t think fondly about the moments and memories of the special occasions in which friends and family gathered in fellowship to celebrate life, love, family and accomplishments.
While there are many kinds of celebrations that we experience in our lives, my favorite type of celebration is that that recognizes achievement, particularly the type that represents sustained and consistent effort, perseverance, overcoming adversity, enduring hardship, and accomplishing a goal or set of goals that demanded hard work. The noted essayist Sydney Smith stated, “The thing about performance is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.” One of the things I love about working in a school is that over the course of a four year period of time we have the chance to share in the growth process with young people who often enter our school as timid, insecure and unsure adolescent boys and girls and leave our doors four years later as confident, strong, focused men and women who are ready and able to tackle the challenges that life has in front of them. Every year these students of ours enter Bishop McNamara as boys and girls filled with hopes and dreams and leave us upon graduation as men and women who we hope have discovered within themselves the realm of infinite possibilities with the confidence and the foundation to become people of influence in society.
What I love in particular about being a Holy Cross school, is that, as Fr. Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, commanded of us as educators to “shrink from no sacrifice, to teach our students everything that they should know, and to prepare them to be good citizens not only in this world but in heaven as well.” For Holy Cross educators, the kind of preparation we do is to prepare our students not only to be successful, but to live with significance!
I am so proud of the fact that 99% of the graduating class of 2012 at Bishop McNamara will be attending some of the finest colleges and universities in the nation and have received in excess of $16 million in scholarships, grant and aid to college. Equally as important and impressive is that two members of this class will spend a post-graduate year involved in ministry overseas and through AmeriCorps, and that collectively this class accumulated more than 25,000 hours of service to the poor and disenfranchised not only in the local community but all over the world. Truly these graduates of this authentically Holy Cross school have learned and lived the pillars of Holy Cross. Truly these graduates have embraced Fr. Moreau’s dream to “make God known, loved and served.”
Often when I am in conversations with people and the question of my occupation comes up, when I let them know I work with high school students the response is often the same, "What's going on with these kids today?" "Aren't kids today lazy and apathetic?" "That must be a tough job, kids today just aren't the same as they used to be." Well, I would have to agree with this last statement, kids aren't today what they used to be. What I find is that in many ways they are way ahead of the previous generations. Certainly they are way ahead of the generation I grew up in that was suffered so greatly from "me-itis." I find today's young people to be more compassionate and understanding of individual differences. They possess a world-view that I know my generation certainly did not possess. They embrace different cultures, races, religions, nationalities, etc. and while we have not yet "arrived" as a society, I see so much of the hatred and bigotry that plagued our nation's history not as strongly visible with today's youth. They recognize the needs of others and have a sense of responsibility to help the less fortunate. They are more socially competent (even though old school people like me think that electronic communication, i.e., Facebook, Twitter and text messaging are pseudo means of communicating) and their networks are more vast. Yes, there are problems too. There is such thing as over-exposure and reliance upon electronics that may impede their growth as critical thinkers. We are also raising a generation of young people that are coddled and protected and sometimes don't know the meaning of hard work, self-discovery, and tough love. These are areas that we have to collectively work on...as teachers, as parents, as employers, as mentors. Overall, however, I have to say just how inspired I am by today's generation of young people because they possess a greater ability to look outside of themselves. Growing up as a child of the '70s and '80s I can't say the same for myself. This is something I've learned from teachers like the ones we have at Bishop McNamara and from the students we interact with every day.
So as we come to the close of this school year let's do so with a sense of gratitude for the young people in our lives, a sense of obligation to help them in their formation process, and a sense of hope that they will lead our world to bigger and better places in the future.