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Blended Bites Blog

Graduation Speech Throw Back

Jessica Anderson


That’s a four-letter word that makes me a little anxious. And no seniors, it doesn’t involve detention slips, calls home to your parents, or swear jars.

It’s that distressing negative sensation you get when you feel threatened, unconfident, or just plain scared. I’ve felt this feeling many times in my life and to be honest I’d like nothing more than to flee this podium right now.  But a wise freshman once told me, “Mrs. Anderson, you make us do things we fear every day, now it’s your turn.”  That’s one of the reasons I’m here. And for those of you in the graduating class, no matter how superficial, many of you may be sitting in your chairs right now fearing that you’ll forget to move your tassel or that you’ll trip and fall in those amazing heels you’ve just bought (by the way, that’s why I wore flats!).

Many of you may remember the fear or lack thereof you had entering this school for the very first time. I remember it too. When we started this journey together four years ago, I had one year of teaching under my belt. I had already moved past my fear of science. Yes, I was once in fear of science. I actually despised the subject and dreaded taking the required science courses in college. I was going to be an elementary teacher with a reading endorsement. And like many of you have told me before, science was not my thing! But the seniors who have been with me for the past four years know being an elementary reading teacher was not my destiny, I love rocks and minerals and scientific investigations too much. But my fear of science has taught me a lot about fear.  Mark Twain once said, “Do the thing you fear most and the death of the fear is certain.” The death of my fear began with my first geology professor Dr. Foley. He was engaging, spastic, and told really amazing geology jokes. He was in love with his subject. Because of those things, I was inspired and motivated to do well in his course. He was the first teacher I had who sat down with me and asked me what I feared most about the course. My answers: science, test taking, and talking in front of people. He made me do them all, but with help and encouragement.  It was with his support that I continued moving past my fear of science.

Many of you are about to put yourselves in situations you’ve never been in before. Whether you are off to college, the military, or to your first job, you’re bound to feel a little fear.   Some of you may take on your fears. I hope you do! Like [insert name], [insert name], you may soon be fearless of worms. You may not know it yet, but dealing with worms (whether in nature or on computers) may be in your future. And [insert name] even though right now you may fear being unsuccessful, if you work hard you will be successful. [Insert name] and [Insert name], you may fear the uncertain along with many others, but I have the feeling the uncertain has a lot of good things in store for both of you.

Seniors, I now want you to think about something you fear most about your future. This may be the one fear you wish to overcome.  It may indeed be the fear that drives your success. As Bill Cosby once said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” You must learn that the key to converting failure to success is all in your attitude. You need to be able to think positively about your failures by learning how not to fear failure...and yes, [insert name], that goes for realists too.  Whether you aspire to be a welding engineer like [insert name], teachers like [insert name] and [insert name], or mechanical or electrical engineers like [insert name] and [insert name] remember this: don’t let fear stop you from being an amazing individual.  Keep it closer than your worst enemy.

Lastly, I thought it only appropriate to leave you with a quote that brings back our first days together in earth science and give you some Advice from a Canyon:
   Carve out a place for yourself
                                             Aspire to new plateaus
                                              Stand the test of time
                                                Don’t get boxed in
                                        Listen to the voice of the wind
                                        It’s OK to be a little off the wall
                                                    Reach deep!

It is with mixed feelings that I send this group of students off on their way to conquer new goals and tackle their fears.  I am truly impressed by your accomplishments and by the changes you’ve made in these past four years. I would like you, the parents, friends, community members, and school staff to join me in congratulating our seniors, Powell County High School’s class of 2012.