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Monday, 18 May 2020 09:24

Superintendent's Message to Class of 2020

A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:

Congratulations to each member of the exceptional graduating Class of 2020! You have achieved a landmark goal that you've pursued for the past thirteen years. While graduation is one of life's great forward-looking ceremonies, it is also a time to momentarily pause on the summit of your high school experience. Legendary Coach John Wooden's favorite book is The Robe, by Lloyd Douglas. There's a great quote in that book, "Life is like a journey, often too even and easy and dull over long distances along the plains, too hard and painful up the steep grades; but, on the summits of the mountain, you have a magnificent view—and feel exalted—and your eyes are full of happy tears—and you want to sing—and you wish you had wings! And then—you can't stay there, but must continue your journey—you begin climbing down the other side, so busy with your footholds that your summit experience is forgotten." This is definitely a summit experience! 

During your high school years, you have made friends of a lifetime who have not only helped you along your way but contributed to the person you have become. Try to stay close to them. Each of you has been influenced by teachers who have had tremendous impact for good on your lives. Reflect often on the lessons they taught you. Parents and family members have supported you through every challenge you've encountered. Always love them and never be shy to express that love. 

Whenever I hear the term "Twenty-Twenty" I think first about clear vision. For you, the Class of 2020, I hope for that kind of keen vision as you look to your future. I want each of you to clearly see what one author described as "your element," or that place where the things you love to do and the things that you're good at intersect as your career. That's no easy thing! I want you to be able to bring into focus what your place in the world will be. I can tell you this—the world needs you! Each of you has much to contribute to our world and we need you.  And, while I want each of you to find your career—your personal element—and be extraordinarily successful, I hope you never confuse your life and your work. Your work is what you do. Your life is who you are. Too many get well down their life's journey only to realize that they confused the two.

I also want you to envision how you can help make our world a better place. I know you can clearly see that we don't have to be so divided. There's so much more that unites, rather than divides us. I hope you envision a world where we not only tolerate one another's differences, but truly embrace and celebrate that diversity. I can't imagine a more boring place to live than one where everyone was just like me! I hope you see early on that real happiness comes from helping others. In fact, I have found that one of life's greatest paradoxes is that selflessness is really the best thing you can do for yourself. It really is one of the unique and curious truths of our human experience! Living a selfless life may just serve as a reminder that none of us is really all that special—because EVERYONE is!

One final thing—each of us is heartbroken that we can't celebrate your accomplishments by shaking your hand, looking you in the eye and telling you how proud we are of you. Because your graduation took place during a global pandemic, you don't get to enjoy some of the traditional rites of passage that typically go along with this milestone achievement. We are all truly sorry about that. But, perhaps experiencing this kind of disappointment rather early in life will give you some insight into how to face adversity with courage and optimism. I really believe that the insight you've gained by facing disappointment without becoming bitter or losing hope will one day be a tremendous advantage for you. Perhaps, you'll face some deep disappointment later in life that will require you to draw on the strength of character this current disappointment helped you develop. This strength of character will help you be stronger in overcoming some future setback. Or, maybe someone that you love dearly will experience disappointment in their life. Because of things that you've learned as part of the graduating Class of 2020, you will have developed "20-20" vision that will allow you to better understand what they're going through and be able to help them face up to adversity and inspire them to do so. 

Congratulations! Best of luck to each of you. And, on behalf of all who care about and believe in you, we hope you make for yourselves extraordinary lives--for your sake and for ours. I admire each of you!

With Highest Respect,

Dr. Jeff M. Stephens

Superintendent; Weber School District

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