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A note to LPOSD graduating seniors

Dear Graduating Seniors:

Congratulations on your graduation from high school! We are proud of you and your accomplishments. As you think of what comes next in your world: more academics, work force training, or entering the world of work, all of us in the Lake Pend Oreille School District wish you the very best. You have a great opportunity ahead of you.

This column is simply a reminder to you about a few things I have learned since high school. Some I have learned the hard way. Relax; there is no grade or test at the end.

1) Don’t forget your high school friends. As you go different ways, don’t forget those great moments with your friends. They really are priceless and the people you grew up with know you well. My wife and I just returned from a visit to Seattle to meet with high school friends, Scott and Lindsey Cornelius. We shared great memories from high school and laughed long and hard. We have all changed in the past 40 years. As you go through life, don’t forget to email or call these high school friends. They will trigger memories for you.

2) Fear not, people will remember you, but they will forget some of the things you did. All of us are proud of certain things we did in high school. At the same time, many of us do not want to be remembered for the mistakes we made. The adults at school will forget about those mistakes and treat you like a niece or a nephew when you see them five years from now. In other words, they really do like you and wish you well. Your friends will remember bits and pieces over time. When you turn 30 something, you will not want to be remembered for some of the things you did as an 18 year old. Your friends will feel the same way.

3) Don’t let high school be the best time of your life. Even though you share so much with your close friends right now, your lives will go in many directions. You will have many opportunities to enjoy your life through school, work, travel, marriage, and the raising of your family. In short, the best time of your life should be ahead of you. High school is a warm up; don’t get stuck in thinking this is the best life will ever be no matter what others tell you. Make your own happiness wherever you are.

4) Use what you know... and vow to learn more. You have graduated, as have hundreds of thousands. As you move forward, wisely use what you have learned, especially in the area of common sense and how you treat other people. Those two pieces are very important in our world. Beyond that, you must continue to learn and be willing to meet new challenges. Those challenges will be waiting for you and the best way to survive comfortably is to learn from your mistakes, keep learning new things in your chosen field so you are invaluable, work hard, and be dependable. These attitudes will serve you well.

5) Be open to opportunity. Your life can lead you in many directions. Be open to travel, different job opportunities, and trying to learn something new. It will keep you excited about your life even though it might make you a little uncomfortable.

6) Don’t forget where you came from. Some of you will grow to be wildly successful in terms of family, money, career, and other honors. Some of you will struggle. That is the way life works. Either way, don’t forget where you came from. There is positive and negative wherever anyone grows up. Celebrate the good and learn from the bad. Make the place where you end up, if not here, the best place it can be for the next generation.

7) Before you leave and head off into the world, make sure to thank those who have made a positive impact on your life. It is never too late to do that, but you never know when you will see someone again. There are many people I wish I had thanked after I graduated: teachers, principals, neighbors, mom, dad, friends, coaches, ministers and others. At 18 years old, that didn’t seem important because I thought I would see everyone again. It turns out that isn’t the case. Other people move, die, or simply disappear from your life. So, don’t be shy. Tell people how much you have appreciated them. You will feel great when you do.

Enjoy these few months of summer and good luck as you head out on your way to the rest of your life. Do well.

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Author info

Dick Cvitanich Dick Cvitanich is the Superintendent of Schools for the Lake Pend Oreille School District. He has been an educator for 33 years, and became superintendent for LPOSD in 2006. He was educated at the University of Washington where he earned a BA in History and a Superintendent's Credential. He has been married to Diane for 32 years and they have raised three sons who "taught us as much as we taught them." "I have a passion for public education and the role it plays in our democracy. In my free time I read, ski ... come to think of it, I don't have that much free time."

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