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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Graduation Math.

You see… math is important.

The amount of noise made by family members during the ceremony algebra-cartoonis inverse to the amount of success the graduate may experience later in life.

The higher the temperature inside the gymnasium/auditorium increases the length of the graduation ceremony.

The number of programs printed equals the number of programs being used as fans during graduation.

The larger number of graduation party invitations sent out increases the odds of the graduate receiving luggage as gifts.

10% of all graduates wish they could remain in high school.  That number only increases with time.

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Blame Game.

We live in a society of zero personal responsibility.

Everyone blames every one else for their troubles.My Fault?  More Like Your Fault.

This has become the fabric of our society.

You even see this attitude in schools.

Elementary schools blame parents for not having their children ready for an education.

They can’t read.  They can’t write.  They eat crayons by the dozens.  They attack each other with pencils.

They should all be heavily medicated.

Middle schools blame the Elementary schools for not getting those same kids prepared for 5th – 8th grade.

They aren’t good at math.  Or science.  Or writing. 

They can’t sit still.  They can’t read.  They have no social skills.  Their hygiene is horrendous (this part may well be true).

They don’t care about anything (except sports and dating).

High schools blame everyone.

They have to fix everything the elementary, middle school, and parents messed up.

Colleges are just disgusted.

They get students who aren’t prepared for the rigors of higher education, so they have to re-teach the skills students should have learned during their K-12 years.

It never stops.

School districts blame state governments for not sending them enough money (by enough I mean… more, and more, and more).

States blame the Federal Government.

Congress blames the President.

The President blames Congress.

Democrats blame Republicans.

George W. Bush gets blamed for everything.

It goes on and on.

The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that no one ever stands up and says

“My fault.  Blame me.  I could have done better.”

To err is human. To blame someone else is politics – Hubert H. Humphrey.

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Which Grade Should You Teach? I Can Help.

Hmmm.... Which Grade Should I Teach?As I travel this great country of ours (back and forth to work), the question I am asked most often is… “How do I know which grade level I should teach?”

Future educators seem to be confused by the differences in kids at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.

This is understandable because each grade comes with its own set of strange and fascinating creatures. And when I insinuate students are strange and fascinating, I mean they are strange and fascinating.

The answer to the “Which grade should I teach?” question is, of course, quite simple.

If you are confused, check the nearest restroom (pick the right one, and if you don’t, please keep my name out of it).

You read correctly. The secret of choosing the teaching position is to walk into any school and head straight to the bathroom.

That is where you will find the answer to your career questions.

Other stuff is also kept in there, so ignore that if possible. If you can’t, call a janitor.

When you arrive, wash your hands then ask yourself “What kind of restroom troubles do I want for the next 30 years?”

If you want a restroom in your classroom, teach kindergarten or 1st grade.

If you want to yell at goofy boys for doing goofy things in the restroom, teach 2nd thru 5th grade.

If you like general weirdness, in the vicinity of a restroom, focus on teaching junior high or middle school students.

If you are interested in discovering why there is smoke coming out of the restroom, focus on high school.

So there you have it. Answers to career questions can be found in a stall near you.

Now that I have cleared up this mystery, I can focus on the other question that I am asked almost every day.

“Where’s the restroom?”

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If a Deer is Loose in the High School, It’s Going to be a Long Day.

You Don't Want Him Running Down Your Hallway.There is a phrase that a school administrator can hear that lets them know their day is about to get worse. Just the thought of it sends chills down my spine.

There is no way to hear this very common phrase and have it followed by “you just won the lottery, a supermodel wants to date you, or the school board is about to double your salary.”

These particular words can only be followed by bad news, worse news, or I wish I had never been born news.

Don’t get me wrong, this phrase is not as bad as when you ask your doctor if this will hurt and he says “just bend over and try to think happy thoughts- this will only take several minutes.”

Or when the same doctor tells you “best case- you have two weeks left to live- it is a shame our office couldn’t get in touch with you last week before we went on vacation”.

The phrase is “I just want to give you a heads-up.”

This can only be followed by a reaction of, crap my day just went down the toilet and I wish I was still a teacher, or better yet- unemployed.

When anyone who works in a school walks up to you and says “I just want to give you a heads-up” it is usually them telling you what someone else has done, said, failed to do, or is about to do and you need to sprint in what will most likely be a failed attempt to stop the person in question.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- the toilets are overflowing in the theater and the musical starts in 7 minutes.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- we may have miscounted the ballots for homecoming queen.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- the art room is on fire, again.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- there is a deer loose in the high school and he seems upset.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- someone just burnt popcorn in the teachers’ lounge, again.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- an angry parent is in your office and there are sixteen more waiting in the hallway.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- the Chief of Police just called and wants to know if you have 5 1/2 hours to talk.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- rumor has it there may be some trouble with cheerleading tryouts.

“I just want to give you a heads-up”- we may have lost a kindergarten student at recess.

This is why I shudder at the mere thought of “I just want to give you a heads-up.” It is such a nice way of saying, “What I am about to tell you will make you blood pressure rise to a record level and will most certainly shorten your life span by months, if not years.”

So the next time your hear this phrase, at least you know to prepare for the worst.

I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

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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.