Well, we’re deep into the dog days of summer and it seems like a prime moment for a guest post because Lord knows it’s too hot to do anything else today! I want to share some thoughts from AUNE student and local music teacher Kate Butterfield. Kate was selected by the student body to share her thoughts at the middle school’s graduation this spring and I found that her words were such a lovely reflection of what she’s been learning as a student in our Experienced Educator’s MEd in Mindfulness for Educators. Kate was gracious enough to share her remarks with me and I couldn’t wait to pass them along to you. (If you’d like to reach Kate, you can do so at KButterfield@sau29.org)
I am honored to be able to share a few thoughts with you this afternoon, and to be able to thank you for the gift you have been to us here at Keene Middle School. Although we celebrate you as the KMS Class of 2015, we also celebrate each of you as the amazing individuals you are. Each of you has had a different experience here at Keene Middle School, and we have been honored to be a part of that experience. When we think of you as a class, we will smile.
Over the past several weeks, I have been asked if I am looking forward to the year being over. My response has been – “Yes, in some ways I am very ready for a vacation. But I am also sorry for this year to end because of this wonderful 8th grade class.” Thank you for all you have been and done over these past 3 years.
This is a very special time and here you are, sitting in this beautiful auditorium, surrounded by friends and family, to mark the end of the first 8 years of your formal education. Look around this room – these people that are here, are here for you. You are important and we all celebrate you.
I would imagine you have many emotions right now. Take a moment to think about them….excitement…..sadness….pride…..uncertainty….wonder…..joy…..All of us experience mixed emotions when we are faced with a transition. The known is ending and the unknown is about to begin. You are not alone in how you are feeling!
I hope you are filled with gratitude for what you have experienced here at KMS. I hope you know how fortunate you are to have this gift of education. There are many middle school students in this world who do not have the opportunities you have been blessed with.
We all have voices in our heads that can inspire us or keep us from doing the things we want to do or what we know is right….Hear a different voice; one that says : “I am awesome, I am speciaI and unique. I can do amazing things with hard work and perseverance.”
Marianne Williamson says it this way in her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. We were born to make manifest the glory within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
You have done this. You have let your light shine in athletics, music, drama, art, dance, Jonathan Daniels Peace committee, OCAC, Robotics, Destination Imagination, Student Council, Rachel’s Challenge, NJHS, advisory community service projects, yearbook, Cardinal Newspaper, in the classroom, the halls and the cafeteria. It might have been as simple as being a friend or doing the right thing.
Much of what you have accomplished has happened with patience and tenacity – the ability to stick to something even when it is hard or you don’t think you will be able to do it or understand it.
Some of you may be thinking, “I did not take advantage of what I could have at KMS. I didn’t focus on my school work, or join a sport or club I wish I would have…or make friends with people in my classes.”
When things don’t turn out the way we want them to or we did or didn’t do something we should or shouldn’t have, know that we are able to start over, every minute of every day. All of us have made decisions we wish we had made differently….or said things without thinking. If we take time to pause before reacting, our minds will be clearer and we will respond in a more thoughtful and caring way. We can go forward in a new way. We can have a fresh start right now.
Each moment in our lives is all we really have. To live thinking of the past or dreaming of the future is really robbing us of life right now. Be fully present in your life. Know that the only thing you can control is yourself. You can’t change someone else. You can only change your thoughts, your attitude and your response.
I encourage you to live intentionally….do things on purpose….make things happen, don’t wait for them to come to you.
Take time to really talk with people…turn off your cell phones and have a conversation while looking into someone’s eyes. Listen to others and really hear what they are saying. Spend time outdoors without listening to your music and enjoy the sounds in nature.
Exercise gratitude – each morning before you get out of bed….think of at least 5 things for which you are thankful. Pause throughout the day and exercise gratitude. No matter what is going on in our lives, there is always something to be thankful for.
As you leave KMS, you may think we have been your teachers and you have been the students. But, we are all teachers and students. Every experience we have and every person we meet can teach us something. Know of the impact your life makes on the lives of all those around you.
Stephen Schwartz expresses this best in the song “For Good.”
It well may be that we will never meet again, so let me say before we part, so much of me is made of what I learned from you, you’ll be with me like a hand print on my heart. Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.