My first class of students graduated Friday night. Last week I attended the awards ceremony and listened carefully as names of my former students were called to be recognized as outstanding students, scholarship recipients, and special award winners. Every class has students who excel in the classroom. There are also students who achieve greatness, but in ways which many people do not pay much attention to this time of year. Sitting in the auditorium Friday night made me realize that greatness is not the awards and scholarships or what many people perceive, but greatness is how they see themselves.
I watched a special needs student accept his diploma. He is fighting a much bigger battle than his cognitive disability. He is fighting for his life while sadly losing a battle with cancer. I hope he sees his greatness.
I watched a young soon-to-be mother cradle her stomach as she smiled for her picture. She went through a terrible tragedy her junior year, but she finished school and made getting an education a priority for her and her unborn child. I hope she sees her greatness.
I watched a young man raise his hands in the air in celebration. He chose a wrong path - a path of drugs and alcohol which ultimately cost him a relationship with his family. I hope he sees his greatness.
None of these students were at the top of their class. But they achieved a greatness of their own. And that greatness deserves to be recognized too. I congratulate all of my former students and leave them with this:
"Greatness lies not in what people perceive,
but in what you, yourself believe." ~Leigh Anne Eck