Graduates: Rules for Real Life.


It’s the season.  Graduation Season. I’ve been too busy to blog, so here’s some advice for the Decatur Herald and Review. (Decatur, Illinois)Good Luck Class of 2013!

Since it’s graduation season, this seems to be a good time to publish this list of rules for graduates as they move on in life.

The rules are often, incorrectly, attributed to Bill Gates or deceased novelist Kurt Vonnegut. The list, however, is the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the book “Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, or Add.”

At any rate, it’s a good list to think about:

Rule 1: Life is not fair; get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will not make $60,000 a year right out of high school.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping. They called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rainforest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades, and they’ll give you as many chances as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

There are three additional rules that aren’t always printed:

Rule 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic.

Rule 13: You are not immortal. If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure, parents are a pain, school’s a bother and life is depressing. But someday, you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

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Kelsey Elise Graduates from Grand Valley State University.


More proof that the next generation is smart.

Really smart.

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The Biggest of All Parental Mistakes.


I’m about to do all parents a favor.Never Make a Wish.

I’m going to share a lesson most of us had to learn the hard way.

Please take notes (or just refer back to this blog … it’s good for traffic).

Never.

Ever.

Wish.

Against.

Your.

Kids.

The mere thought of wishing against your children will infuriate the God of your choice.

Karma will smack you upside the head like a tired angry mom with 7 year old triplets in Wal-mart (I’ve seen her slap them into next week… and I was scared).

Examples follow.

Your kid is playing in his or her 100th baseball/softball game of the summer.  Every one of them took place in tempatures of at least 1,000 degrees.

You just want an evening off.  You spot what looks like a raincloud in the distance.

You quietly, without bringing any attention to yourself, wish it would rain just enough to cancel the game so you can go home and read a book.

This may seem like a simple harmless wish, but you know what will happen?

No rain for 18 months.  A drought of epic proportions.  Your kid’s game not only won’t be rained out, but it will go extra innings.

Farmers will hate you.

And if you’re lucky, you might get home by 2:00 am.

Another example.  Wish your child’s graduation program will be over in less than an hour.

You’ve just guaranteed you will be in a hot gymnasium without air conditioning sitting between smelly people for the next four days.

Wish the coach will put your kid in the big game.

It happens.  Only to have the very same kid do something so horrific the team loses by 97 points and the other parents won’t speak to you in the grocery store ever again (this last part could be a good thing).

Wish your child’s teacher would announce your kid as a mortal lock for a full scholarhsip to an Ivy League college. 

Not going to happen.  There’s a better chance the teacher says in her 47 years of education she’s never been more sure a child is guaranteed to be convicted of a felony before their 14th birthday.

Wish your kids gets a college degree so they can support themselves.

They do.

And they move back home for the next four decades.  With their spouse.

And four kids.  And two dogs.  And massive debt.

Get it?

Never wish. 

It angers the God of I Just Want Some Peace and Quiet.

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Graduation Can Be Hell.


It’s a special time of year.It Can Get a Little Warm.

School is out.  Students are off enjoying summer vacation.  The buildings are empty and quiet (not sure if this is the best use of taxpayers’ money, but I force myself to live with it).

Only one thing left.

Besides scooping off the top of my desk (can you say overdue).

Graduation.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a couple of stress-filled hours.

Is everything ready?  Will the students be on their best behavior? 

How long into the ceremony before the sound of an air horn rattles my insides?

It’s a lot of whistling/screaming/yelling by the crowd and me shaking my head in disgust (on the inside… never on the outside).

And if all of this wasn’t enough, there’s always the added pressure of checking the weather forecast every 14 seconds.  This process begins about 4 months in advance of graduation.

I’m not sure why I check because the forecast for graduation day is always the same.

Sunshine.  No breeze.  100% humidity.  Drought-like conditions.  And if that wasn’t enough, the temperature is always between 107 degrees and boiling.

It’s hell.

If hell was located inside a packed high school gymnasium.

I guess one could argue that makes me the devil, but let’s not go there.

Every year it’s the same thing.  I sweat through my shirt.  Then my suit.

This all happens while I’m getting dressed.

Once I arrive at graduation, I feel like I’m standing in a puddlle.

But sadly there’s no water leak, it’s just my shoes and socks acting as a dam for the river of water running down my back.

I don’t think internal organs can sweat, but I could swear my kidneys and liver are moister than usual.

I try to keep my tie dry, but I usually give up about 45 minutes into the big event when I begin using it as a towel.

This may seem gross, but it’s not as gross as me shaking every students hand with my giant drenched paw.

It’s like I dipped it in the locker room urinal.

It’s comforting to know my last interaction with students after 13 years of education is me creeping them out with my 15-year-old-boy-on-a-first-date-clammy-cold-sweaty hand.

Graduation is a wonderful event in students’ and families’ lives.

I just think it would be more special if it would snow

Just once.

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My Graduation Speech.


It’s that time of year where schools and universities pay a lot of money for bad graduation speeches.Life Stinks.

I want in on this.  I don’t think you have to be an alumni or a politician to bore people silly.

Plus, I could use the cash.  So, here we go.

Dear Students:

Congratulations on making it this far.  You thought high school and college was the best time of your life.

You were right.

Now the work begins.  If you can find it.

Adults in your life don’t tell you the whole truth, especially when you are graduating from high school or college.  They are just happy you are not in jail.

Plus, they love you.  They have to.  It’s the law.

They also don’t want to tell you the truth because they don’t want to watch you cry like a junior high boy

So I’m going to.

I’m not here to completely crush your hopes and dreams, but it’s probably going to happen so you might as well sit back and take it.

1).  Life stinks.

It’s hard and complicated.  Nothing about life even remotely resembles what you see on commercials or in vacation brochures.

Life isn’t a sitcom.  It’s a drama.  Or tragedy.  Depends on how lucky you get.

Your parents and grandparents have traveled a difficult path to get you here, so now it’s your turn.

Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy road.

2).  Happiness.

Today you are happy.  There will be hugs.  And gifts.  And cake.

Tomorrow you will wake up unemployed and deeply in debt.

Happiness will have left the building.

This situation will improve for some of you.  Others will continue to wake up unemployed and deeper in debt for years to come.

I paid off my last student loan at the age of 35.  I got lucky.  That’s early.

Take my advice and expect the worse.  That way, if life doesn’t consistently kick you in the face you will be pleased.

Just for the record, anticipate a lot of face-kicking.

3).  Don’t Screw Things Up.

Just do what you are supposed to do.  Mow your yard.  Pay your bills (if you can find a job).  Be polite. Volunteer once in a while.  Don’t cheat on your taxes too much.

You will find yourself in the top 10% if you just pick up your trash and hold doors open for old ladies.

Don’t leave here thinking you are going to make the world a better place in the next 20 minutes. 

We don’t need more saviors.  We need solid citizens who don’t make things worse.

This sounds easy, but as you stumble through life look around and you’ll notice a lot of people who aren’t helping.

If you don’t believe me go to the mall and watch people walk by for 15 minutes and you will understand exactly what I’m saying.

4).  Get Married or Shack Up. 

I don’t care which one you do and I’m not here to judge.  I don’t care about your personal life because I have problems of my own (she’s 11 going on 37).

But when you do hitch your wagon to someone else try and pick someone you like.

Don’t do it for money.  Or looks.  Or so his or her dad will give you that job that you desperately need.

Marry (or not) a person who will make you smile 70 years from now.

Life is short, but bad relationships are forever.

There is nothing worse than eating breakfast with someone you want to stab in the eye with a fork (or so I’m told).

5).  Don’t Reproduce and Mate Smartly.

This is an important one.

If you are unemployed, in debt, immature, hung over, angry at your parents, wear sweat pants more than once a week, or dumb – please don’t think you have to bring children into this world.

They are lot of work.  And expensive.

Once you have them, the government won’t let you give them away (learned this one the hard way).

Life is a marathon not a sprint.  You don’t have to have children in your 20′s.  Or at all.

Just because people ask you "When are you having kids?" doesn’t mean you have to do it.  Most of the time they are just asking because they have children and want you to feel the pain and suffering they go through on a daily basis.

If you must reproduce, realize it is very likely you will be just as bad a parent as your mom and dad.

Think about this before you go to the bar and start hitting on another unemployed broke person.

Don’t create another human just so you can mess them up like your parents did you.  That’s not fair.

To you.  The child.  Or the rest of us.

7.  Your Parents.

They aren’t crying today because you are all grown up.  They are crying tears of joy.

They are tired of paying for you.  They want their house back.  And their lives.  They are tired of you tearing up their stuff. 

They no longer find a 2:00 am phone call from you amusing.  There is no such thing as a "minor" traffic accident when you are driving their car.

Look at them.  They used to be young and vibrate, then you showed up.  Now they are old and tired.

Tired of you.  Tired of your laundry.  Tired of your bills. 

Sure, they will say you are welcome to move back home until you get on your feet, but what they really want is you out of their hair and at least 2 hours away.

They only have a few good years left.  Don’t ruin it for them by mooching off them for the next decade.

Allowances are for kids.  Not 25 year olds.

You will know life is winning if you are sleeping in the same bed you occupied when you were nine.

Also, adults don’t have posters on their bedroom walls.

8).  Take Care of Your Health.

We are all day-to-day.

Life is short and soon you will be dead.  This is one of those things people won’t tell you.

But I guarantee you, not one person in this room will make it out of life alive.

Enjoy the few days or years you have left. 

Old people will constantly tell you life goes fast.  They’re right.

They didn’t get to be old by being stupid.

Certain days will drag on and on, but the weeks, months, and years fly by.  Faster than you can ever imagine.

The moments are precious.  In fact, as I stand here I’m asking myself why I wasted the last several minutes talking to you.

Slow down when you get a chance.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Take a nap at every opportunity, because this journey called life, while quick, is exhausting.

8).  Credit Cards.

Cut them up.  Pay cash.  Understand the difference between a want and a need.

Don’t try and keep up with the Jones’ down the street because it’s highly likely they are up to their….. in debt.

You don’t need a boat, horse, pool, motorcycle, 12 bathrooms, or a vacation home to be happy.

New cars are for suckers.  Never invest in a sure thing.  Stay out of Las Vegas.

Understand the stock market always drops.

Always save for a rainy day, because all of us are about 30 seconds away from a monsoon.

True happiness is not tensing up when the phone rings because you think it might be a bill collector.

True happiness is having at least $1 more at the end of the month than you need.

9).  Diplomas.

They mean nothing.

It’s a piece of paper.  A piece of paper you could have printed up for yourself 4 years ago (it’s called Photoshop people).

Life is about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

Some of you will obtain doctorates and fail miserably.

Others of you will know people who dropped out of high school and have become quite successful.

Life isn’t fair. 

The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be. 

Don’t be afraid to work.  No job is beneath you.

You don’t get a fancy office and a big title just because you cheated your way through school.

You get those things after you work hard, not before.

10).  Expectations.

Set them low.  Really low.

Hope for the best, but expect the absolute worst.

The odds of you being great aren’t good.

That takes luck.  And a job.  And more luck.

Set your sights on being mediocre.

Mediocre is fine.  Mediocre can make you very happy.

The world is full of mediocre people.  There is only one Bill Gates.  There’s lots of you.

In conclusion, I would like to share the secret to life. 

A wise old man once told me to "Show up and shut up."  I suggest you do the same.

Good luck.  You are going to need it.

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“You’re Still Here? It’s Over, Go Home. Go.”


Ferris Would Never Return.  Never.

The school year is officially over.

Graduation has come and gone.

Seniors have waited their whole lives for this moment.

After 13 long years (long for them, longer for me), they are free.

Free at last!

Thank God, they are free at last! (and thank you, Rev. Martin Luther King).

They are no longer required to attend school.

They are no longer required to roll out of bed 7 minutes before 1st hour begins.

They are no longer required to see their teachers and administrators.

And yet, just when they have their first taste of sweet sweet freedom they get confused.

They forget all of the bad experiences that plagued them during their school years.

The homework.

The discipline.

The rules.

PE.

Dissecting frogs.

The angry over-medicated administrators.

All of the things they hate are quickly forgotten.

Then they do something crazy.

Something unspeakable.

Something so disgusting, I can hardly type out the morbid details.

They do the one thing the swore they would never do.

They show up at school (often quite early).

Just when they think they’re out, they drag themselves back in.

It’s weird, but it happens every year.

Like clockwork.

Their Senior year is over.  They’ve graduated.  They are finished.

And then they return.

It’s odd.

Thank you Ferris Bueller.   Not only for supplying the title of yet another blog, but for one of the 5 greatest movies of all-time.

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High School Seniors Are Clueless.


The End.

Actually there is more to this blog than just the title, but there doesn’t have to be. 

If you’ve been around the strange animal (“The Senior”), the title is pretty self-explanatory.Good Luck.  You'll Need It.

Seniors don’t have a clue.

About anything.

This is painfully obvious to just about everyone (especially their parents).

Everyone recognizes this fact, but the Seniors.

They think they have it all figured out.

Actually, they know they have it all figured out (if you don’t believe me, just ask them)

The only thing holding them back are those annoying adults.  Those people who surround them with only one purpose…to tell them what to do and how to act.

Who are “those people”? Teachers, administrators, coaches, mom, dad, and every other old person they’ve encountered since they first stepped foot in kindergarten

All of those people with their annoying advice, experience, and perspective.

Constantly trying to warn them about the challenges life has in store for them.  Trying to alert them that the world is about to smack them upside the head (and Seniors… consider yourself lucky if you only get hit in the head…). Trying to tell them life gets more complicated after high school, not less (sad, but true).

Seniors don’t want to hear it.

They don’t want anymore advice.

They don’t want to hear any more stories about how life used to be “in the good old days”. 

Enough with the guidance.

They want out.

Out of high school.  Out of their houses.  Out of the towns they grew up in (no matter how big that town may be… it’s still too small and there’s nothing to do).

They want sweet sweet freedom.

And they want it 6 months ago.

They want to make their own decisions and be in charge of their own destinies.

As we established earlier, they have all the answers.

What they haven’t figured out (yet) is they don’t know any of the questions.

I feel relatively confident speaking about this phenomenon because I was once a Senior.  Man was I stupid (and by stupid, I mean more stupid than now).

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The High School Seniors Have Graduated. Now It’s Time For Them to Get Out.


Graduation is over. Thank Goodness.

That wild cheering sound that you hear in your head. It’s me.

It’s not that I mind graduation, it’s just that I am out of dress clothes to sweat through.

This is just my opinion, but there is nothing sadder than a broken down school administrator sweating through his tie.

But that’s just me.

There is something about graduation day that brings out the heat and humidity. sunshine

Each year you can count on a number of things. Proud parents and grandparents, students wearing sunglasses, parties, screaming, crying, and me looking like I just ran a marathon.

In the rain.

Wearing a winter coat.

And a stocking cap.

Did I mention it was hot and I was sweaty?

Graduation also draws attention to the fact that there are two distinct types of seniors. Those who loved high school and those that didn’t really care for it.

The students that really enjoyed their high school experiences have the toughest time at graduation.

During the course of their 4 years they liked everything. Their friends, activities, sports, teachers, and sometimes even their principal (alright, this one may be a stretch).

Graduation is a complicated event for them. They are happy, yet a little sad.

It’s time to leave high school, but they aren’t sure they are ready. They tell you how excited they are to be moving on, but part of them wants to stay.

On the other hand, there are students who didn’t enjoy their school experiences.

For whatever reason their time didn’t go as smoothly. In fact, some of them feel like they have been serving a 4 year sentence.

Graduation means they are getting released. And they are happy. Really happy.

At least for now.

High school will look much better to them in about 6 months.

There is one thing that all of these students have in common. The need to get out.

And now.

The ones that loved high school need a little push to get out in the real world. The ones who didn’t enjoy school just need to go.

In both cases, it’s time for a little break.

Time to see what life has in store for them.

Time for me to dry out my clothes.

Time to get ready for another senior class.

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High School Graduation. What’s With the Screaming?


All across America, school administrators are preparing for the graduation ceremonies at their schools.

And dreading it. graduation-cap

You may be wondering why they’re not looking forward to this exciting day in young people’s lives? Well, there are several reasons.

The signs. The whistling. The horns. The noisemakers. The silly string. And dozens of other things that can be disruptive.

Did I mention the screaming?

Most of all, the screaming.

People often say that kids have changed over the years. I don’t know about that, but I’m almost positive that graduation ceremonies have.

They are no longer highly structured classy events.

They are rock concerts (it wasn’t this loud at the Def Leppard concert I attended in 1987).

The crowd used to be in attendance to watch the event. Now they are there to participate.

People used to get dressed up for graduation in their finest outfits and applaud when their sons or daughters walked across the stage.

Now, they show up mainly to scream.

I do wonder… is there a direct correlation between how much parents love their children based on how loud they scream during graduation?

And am I the only one who has noticed how graduation ceremonies have changed over the years?

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It’s Spring at School.


There is a different feeling at school these days. And I think I know what it is. masters2007-203

Winter is winding down. I know this because I can now walk more than 10 feet and no one asks me about having a snow day.

While this is the surest sign winter is over, there are others that indicate spring has arrived.

But don’t get too excited.

Spring foreshadows the end of school, not that school is over.

This is a very important point for antsy students. And teachers. And me.

If you have spent any time around schools you may recognize some of these indicators that spring is upon us.

The senior class is restless. While they aren’t sure what they are going to do with their lives, they are sure they don’t want to be in high school anymore.

Life awaits them. They are ready to grab life by the horns.

They don’t have a clue.

In about 7 months, they will realize high school wasn’t so bad.

Teachers are restless. Summer awaits them. And they are also ready.

The problem is they have forgotten summer lasts about 7 seconds. Then it is over (although the good news is… there is a summer break every year).

Junior high boys are jumpy. Although this type of behavior is not all that unusual, it does drive adults even crazier come springtime.

On top of this there is a stench in the air (and hallways). While not recognizable to younger staff members, I immediately know what it is when I see/smell it.

Love.

It’s everywhere in the spring.

And it seldom ends well… for the boys. But like most lessons in life, sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Good luck gentlemen. You are going to need it.

In about 3 weeks.

High School baseball has started. Which means it is going to rain. Almost every day.

It doesn’t rain so much on days when the team has practice, but there is a 97% chance on game days.

The tulips came up in my yard. Then it snowed on them. It’s definitely spring.

My lawn went from brown and dead to green and 8 inches tall… in less than 24 hours. And lucky for me, I have no time to mow during this time of year.

While good for me, it’s bad for the neighbors. But technically this is their fault.

They should have known the risk they were taking when they moved in next door to a school administrator (also, they shouldn’t blame me when toilet paper blows off my trees and into their yard at Halloween).

I will mow my yard consistently after graduation. In May. Unless I am too tired.

I know it is spring when the countdown starts.

There is at least one teacher in every school who has the official end of the year countdown. They can tell you exactly how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds until school is out for the summer.

These teachers are more than willing to share this information with everyone they come into contact. Starting on about January 2.

You know it’s spring when on the nights you have meetings after school, it is 75 degrees and sunny outside.

And the nights you don’t have meetings, it is 37 degrees and windy.

Spring means I have moved my golf clubs from the garage to my truck.

This act doesn’t mean I have time to actually use them, but I am getting prepared for June (after I mow my yard… after graduation… no matter if I’m tired or not).

So I am declaring winter officially over and spring has arrived.

The signs are all here.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.