There are a lot of emotions associated with the closing of a school year for all involved. As a teacher I always tried to reflect with my students about how far they had advanced over the year. Our discussionsalways centered on gains in academics along with personal growth. I also spent time with my students recognizing that the group chemistry built throughout the year among the assembled individuals in each class would never again be combined together. While this may seem pessimistic it is factual.
This fact leads to a very important life formula which I believe we all need to calculate as we lead our daily lives. We need to recognize how each individual we come into contact can have an influenceor impact. They may be the catalyst or variable which could change lives.Will their mark be placid like a ship passing in the night or tumultuous? Will a bond of friendship or a personal counsel be cultivated? Why has God placed this person in my pathway? What contributions is this individual going to bring to our world?
As we moved to close this school year I found myself pondering many of these questions. Starting with my annual lunch with our salutatorian and valedictorian I found myself engaged in conversation with two amazing young women. As I listened to them sharing their experiences at Piqua City Schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade I was humbled by their knowledge, maturity and commitment to awareness and understanding! While they have already achieved much during their educational pathway I know that they themselves are tremendous assets to our world.
My next thought provoking reflection occurred when a teacher who was about to retire asked if all of the retirees could do a little “something different”this year at the district-wide staff celebration. This was a teacher who you don’t say “no” to! Not because they are overpowering, rather because they understand the importance of the relationships built with people. So of course, I said “sure” just let me know how I can help.
The suggested variation in the agenda for the celebration was simple which is what made it so powerful. Our retiring staff members wanted to be called down together while the song “Happy” was melodically coming through the speakers. This request of being together was an important symbol of the relationships we build in our lives. We can not do it alone.
The joy on the faces of our retiring team membersas they came forward together at the celebration, while the entire staff stood and clapped to the tune, was a glimpse of the many years of their dedication and fulfillment as educators in our district. My mind raced during those few minutes of celebration as to how fortunate our community was to have these selfless individuals influence our children.
The culminating reflection of closing the school year came on a beautiful May night as I took in the sights, sounds and moments as our community came together to celebrate commencement. Leading the staff into the ceremony I reflected on the importance of having a committed and dedicated team focused upon serving our children and being a positive force in young lives. Pride filled me as our blue and red gowned graduates paraded along the track as our band played Pomp and Circumstance. While these graduates were not my own biological children, I reflected as a proud dad when I observed parents with tears of joy in their eyes as they listened and watched throughout the ceremony. Exhilaration and satisfaction filled everyone in attendance as the red and blue caps flew into the sky as they were unconditionally released from the hands of our graduates.
I truly believe the American tradition of sodalities came into many hearts during graduation as we all joined together as a community in the common interest of educational opportunities and achievement. While I understand the reality that all of the individuals gathered in sodality on that beautiful May night at graduationwill never be together again, I believe something else will continue to exist within the hearts of our community. That something is the relationships we build with others and the understanding of the important potential in all people with whom we come into contact.
My revelation during the closing of school this year derived a newbeginning. One in which our hearts and minds must always be aware of the potential within ourselves to make a mark and a difference in the lives of others. What mark and difference will you make?
Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.