Rare June

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dan verner

By Dan Verner

I like the month of June.

Let me amend that.

I love the month of June.

Maybe my feelings for the sixth month came from the 30 plus years I spent as a teacher. June has warm weather, baseball, and of course it’s the traditional month for weddings and graduations, although can take place almost any time of year.

As I was thinking about young people and graduations, I thought about school and behaviors, and remembered this quotation:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in places of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict

their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize their teachers.

Written last week? Nope, it’s attributed to Socrates, around 340 BC. Here’s another:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are disrespectful and impatient of restraint.

That’s from Hesiod, 8th century B.C.

Now, you might have good reason to believe that both these observations were made recently. Plenty of people think young people are a menace to civilization as we know it. I don’t know why this is. Maybe people down the young because they can. But that doesn’t mean they’re right. I recall telling someone once that I taught in a high school. She asked me, “Aren’t you afraid?” I said, “Of what?” Now, I know our young friends can be testy, impulsive, exasperating and thoughtless. They dress funny and have strange preoccupations. But they are also witty, charming, insightful, energetic, polite and caring, and they are with it in a way that their elders never will be. I had over 4000 students during my career so I feel I have some basis for my observations. I think young people, particularly high school students, are great! If teaching just involved being around them, I’d still be doing it.

This is, of course, graduation season, so I want to send out a big congratulations to all the graduates and their families out there, and particularly to those high school graduates we know (Xavier Sam, Noah, Tamisha, Abby, Connor, Amy, and Alexander) and those receiving college degrees. May you live long and prosper. (Insert your own Vulcan salute here.)

I counted up all the graduations I have been part of one way or another and the number comes to over fifty. I liked the blend of excitement and sadness as students finished one part of their lives and leave for another. It’s one of the few transition ceremonies we have left in our culture. I have never spoken at a graduation (I am not a public speaker) but I’ve often thought about what I would say to graduates. So maybe this is my graduation speech. Graduation speakers, note that it is short.

And to all the teachers, school staffs, parents, coaches, mentors, and church and community leaders across the country who work with our young people, I say that I hope you find this month and all its celebrations fulfilling and joyful and that you have a restful summer. You deserve it.

So, press on toward the future, seniors and soon-to-be graduates. The world you will inherit is banged up and bruised, but with your intelligence, energy and compassion, you will find ways to make it better. We’re counting on you, so make us proud of you. But don’t worry: we got your back.




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