Schools column: Graduation from bow to living arrow
One of the superintendent's best responsibilities is to attend graduation at the end of the year, accept the graduating class on behalf of the school board and hand out diplomas. There's so much positive energy and excitement associated with that...
One of the superintendent’s best responsibilities is to attend graduation at the end of the year, accept the graduating class on behalf of the school board and hand out diplomas. There’s so much positive energy and excitement associated with that relatively brief event: families, student, principals and teachers, all enjoying the fruits of their labor. It’s a moment most will remember for a long time, maybe for the rest of their lives.
When I spoke at graduation this year I invited families to look back at another important time, around 1996 when these young people were born. And I asked them to remember a very special moment, when a parent and child’s eyes first meet.
It can be the day of birth, adoption or entering foster care. There’s a moment when eyes lock and a deep connection takes place. And in that moment, much is communicated: I love you, I will protect you, I will guide you. Forever.
And it doesn’t happen just once, but again and again. Sometimes it comes during a milestone; they take their first steps, enter kindergarten, leave home for their first overnight stay. And sometimes it just happens, on a random Tuesday at the dinner table, in the backyard while you’re both raking leaves, on a winter night at home when you looked across the room and caught their eye as they studied on the couch.
A thousand of these brief moments of connection are etched in our memories and we recall them over and over throughout our lives.
Poet, author and artist Khalil Gibran reminds us that our children are with us for a short while and that we, as parents and guides, “are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Is it any wonder that parents and family members of first graduates are just about bursting with emotions, shifting between joy, pride, sadness...and a little apprehension, perhaps, for what comes next?
And the graduates. Well, they’ve been looking forward to that day for quite a while. Now, having passed that milestone, they may be struggling with mixed emotions, too: pride for hard-earned accolades, relief because they made it, wistfulness to see friends go off in different directions.
They may also be feeling anxious about the future. Even though fans of “The Lord of the Rings” know that “not all that wander are lost,” it’s good to have a plan. It’s important to be able to think ahead, to make sure we’re on a track that leads to a desired goal.
It’s also important to be able to live and be fully in the moment. Lingering too much in the past - past glories, past hurts or failures - or always reaching for the future - waiting for the next big thing to happen or the next shoe to drop - can pull our attention away from where all of life is lived and enjoyed and felt and experienced, the here and the now. It’s all too easy to wish time away and miss an opportunity to enjoy and cherish each day as it comes.
Graduates throughout Duluth, I wish you well. I wish you peace, and congratulate you on your achievements of the past, your dreams for the future and for the joy of this moment.
Bill Gronseth is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at 218-336-8752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .