Full length letters from beloved MVHS teachers to the graduating senior class:
Life is like a train ride. We get on, we ride, and we get off. We get back on and ride some more. There are accidents, detours, bumps, and delays. These obstacles and how we handle them, will define us as a person. At certain stops, there are surprises which can become moments of joy, profound frustration, sadness, or loss. Understand that these stops are a part of everyone’s travels, and the train ride will be different for everyone. Some people consider their ride an adventure and travel cheerfully along, while others will consider their ride too long, dull, or boring. Look deep inside. Find courage to change trains and head in a different direction.
People will board the train and may become, or are already, very important to us. Some of these people will leave an everlasting impression on us even when their trip ends and ours continues. Everyone’s journey will have hellos and goodbyes and be filled with hopes, dreams, challenges, and setbacks. At any moment during our journey, our travel companions can have a weak moment. We must constantly strive to understand our travel companions, look for the best in everyone and offer a helping hand to those in need.
We may doubt, hesitate, or get lost along the way. Hopefully we can count on our fellow travelers to be there for guidance, support, and understanding. Even though we may not always be riding in the same car, or even traveling on the same train, we are all sharing the same journey called “Life”. As you walk away from this train ride of high school, understand another journey is about to begin with a new destination. All Aboard! Good Luck and promise to always give your best and work hard. Show integrity. Don’t be afraid to fail and take care of one another on all your trips. Enjoy your train ride!
– Mrs. Kaufman
Congratulations! And, thank you. This has been a wonderful year, because of you.
I remember when I was a senior, 32 years ago. I signed yearbooks with “I’ll remember you when I am married to a famous rock star!” Those who have seen my prom picture will understand. Looking back, it all seems so ridiculous: big hair, terrible outfits and a bright girl playing a minor role in her own story. I didn’t have a plan. I went to college because my father threatened to charge rent if I didn’t go. So, I went to junior college. There, I changed. In college I recast myself as the main character of my own story. College was the true beginning of my education, but not the most important part. Instead, I have found that powerful learning experiences come from unlikely people in the least expected places. And, I would like to share a few lessons I have learned and try to practice today.
1. Treat everyone with respect. You never know a person simply by their appearance, job title, or educational background. When I lost my wallet on a train in Italy, it was a Sudanese refugee – a man who sold jewelry on the beach – who found my wallet and used my passport picture to find me, and return it. He had little monetarily. But, he was rich with pride, rich with integrity, and rich with grace.
2. Listen to people, especially those who disagree with you or have vastly different views, even when you think they are wrong. Listening to others is a great opportunity to learn about the world and why people think – and even act – the way they do. It was an obnoxious, rich kid in Argentina who explained – with exasperation – that he misbehaved because I was too nice. “Nannies and teachers aren’t supposed to be nice,” he explained. “You have to yell at us!” I did not start yelling at my students, as he advised. But, I did start to understand that people behave as they do for a variety of reasons, some quite surprising.
3. Don’t wait for a teacher – or anyone – to tell you what you should do or think or know. My fellow classmates and my students have been the most important teachers in my education. Every single day I learn something new from them, from you. Every time a student asks a question or shares an insight or perspective, I learn something. It is a challenge sometimes – OK often – to stay open. But, when I do, I learn.
So, my advice to you – wherever you go, whatever you do, treat people with respect and listen to them: in your classes, in the dorms, on the buses and trains, at work and on the streets. And, never play a minor role in your own story. And Rock On!!
To the Class of 2014,
My hopes for you: I hope you find happiness. I hope you find love that you are able to be with the one you love. I hope you make mistakes, fall down, fail, that you take those mistakes, that falling and those failures and use them to learn, to grow, to value your own humanity, to value that same humanity in others. I hope you travel to as many corners of the planet as you can, that you see the wonder and beauty that is our world. I hope you find your voice, that you use your voice for the voiceless. I hope you find your power, that you use your power for the powerless. I hope you dream, dream big, that you dream for others. I hope you find small joys in each day, that you bring joy to the joyless. I hope that you always remember, even in your most challenging moments, that you are not defined by what you do on a given day or by a single person, but rather by how you live your life. I hope you know, you believe that you are worth as much as the person standing next to you, that they are worth as much as you. I hope you find your corner of the world, no matter how big or small, that you make that corner your own, that you light a fire of justice in that corner and keep it burning. I hope you always do your best, that you’re never ashamed of that best, even when it is not the best. I hope you finish what you start, that you honor your commitments especially to those in need. I hope you know that I, that we, the people who have watched you grow into the young men and women you are today are immensely proud of you, that it has been our honor and privilege to help you on your journey. Above all, I hope you find your truth, that you live your truth for that is all anyone can ask and that is all anyone can do.
Good luck in all that is to come.