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01 July, 2011


Telling it like it is in terms that kids can understand
At a recent Grade 8 graduation ceremony,  Principal Dan Russell thanked his G. C. Huston Public School students, parents and teachers in Southampton for work accomplished throughout the year and delivered some words of advice to the graduates that deserve repeating.  In fact, his remarks are so impressive and relevant today that I feel they are worth readers of this site passing them on to all young people of their acquaintance.

The community-minded Russell, a man of intense energy, acknowledged that there have been "incredible changes in technology, communications, television viewing choices and the way we educate".   Despite the many changes, he emphasized that there are some things that have remained the same and that are "constant and appropriate, despite our changing world".   He referred to them as "The 12 Things that Life is Waiting for..."  The following are in part, his Life steps:

1. Life is waiting for those who treat their body like a temple, not a tent. It is your life so take care of it ... stay away from fashion magazines, they will only make you feel frumpy ... eat well, exercise regularly and don't smoke. Nicotine is a drug just like all the other bad ones.

2. Life is waiting for positive participants rather than negative onlookers ... boredom is self-inflicted ... develop a hunger for learning worthwhile things and never let it go. The world is a fascinating place, the things God has created are much more wonderful and fascinating than what man has come up with. No one can force-feed learning, it has to be a conscious decision on your part to fully participate in the process ... develop a positive attitude ... life is waiting for those willing to develop their brains in directions that will really pay off in later life.

3. Life is waiting for those who become loyal friends ... laugh and giggle a lot, mostly at yourself. A true friend will put a finger on your faults without rubbing them in ... stay away from people that are mean or who are proud of making stupid choices.

4. You can't be brilliant in all things ... remember life is sometimes waiting for those who emulate Winnie-the-Pooh, who had little brain but an enormous heart.

5. Read! Life is waiting for those are avid readers ... read everything, especially good fiction ... good books will develop your imagination ... what we need in this information age is wisdom. It is your generation that will have to acquire the moral imagination to solve some of the great ethical problems that have been created by previous generations with all their knowledge.

6. Life is waiting for those who recognize where their strengths and weaknesses are ... I believe we were put on this earth to make it a better place than it was before we got here ... work to discover what it is you are good at, but it must be positive and constructive ... do something to make the world more beautiful ... life is waiting for those who listen to and respect their elders ... love your parents and family.

7. Life is waiting for those who strive to be creators of circumstance rather than simply creatures of circumstance ... don't guess at or wish about things, make them happen ... move to get educated as much as you can ... recognize not only the difference between the best and the worst in life but also the difference between the best and second best ... never give up and don't be astonished if you don't succeed the first time.

8. Life is waiting for those who take time to be alone with themselves ... don't get over-busy ... learn to pray, you can make better judgement calls about what is truly important to you and what is not ... in those quiet moments always search for truth, it sometimes comes in peculiar direction ... we often make important discoveries through others.
9. Life is waiting for those who recognize early that knowledge can result in power for both good and evil in this world ... life is waiting for those who are more interested in their character and beautiful character begins in the heart.

10. Life is waiting for those who avoid slick advertising designed to create a market of useless nonsense ... you have more money in your pockets than any previous generation of kids ... don't waste it.

11. Life is waiting for those who work on a solid understanding of the difference between what is a want and a need ... 'want' just puts you into debt.

12. Finally, believe it or not, life waits for those who do not dream of being famous ... society is in the process of bemusing itself to death with movies and reality television ... getting caught up in this insane feeding frenzy for fame and notoriety ... life especially waits for those who refuse to get absorbed in worship of celebrity ... the frustration of young people is universally paramount when they discover that their chances at fame and fortune are rather limited. You do however, have the option to be successful instead ... success is not what you achieve as much as what you overcome -- bad habits, laziness, misplaced anger, carelessness and thoughtlessness -- just keep working on them and don't forget ... success often means taking risks.  This all builds character.

"Parents are the most influential educators of all and teachers help mold the character of their students.  Remember the simplicity and goodness of your roots.  Do good and keep on doing it.  Life is waiting for you !"

May your words and wisdom have meaningful impact on the lives of your students, Mr. Russell -- and all who read this.

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