There is no greater honor for me (or many principals) than to announce each individual student by name as they walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma. I work for weeks to be sure I get each student’s name correct although I still manage to miss this up at least once a year. It has been a long held tradition at Milford High School that after we announce the graduate's name we wait and wait and wait until each parent, grandparent, friend, aunt, uncle, etc gets the perfect picture. As soon as they begin the walk across the stage, I say the next name and so on.
A few years back, I was announcing the graduates and the previous student stopped behind me at the podium and said four little words, “I love you, Mo!” After being taken aback by the comment, I turned and said, “I love you too, (insert student’s name).” This student wasn’t the most popular, valedictorian, all-star athlete, fine arts superstar, but was a student that was always here grinding away at earning a diploma. This wasn’t the kid that would chat with me everyday at lunch but was one that I would say hi to every morning and ask how he/she was doing.
During a student’s senior year at MHS I hold a number of “meetings” for them and we talk about legacy, saying thanks, not burning bridges, what’s next, being a good community member, and the list goes on and on. However, my favorite day of the year, and always most memorable, is the seniors last day in school. We start the day with band and then I get them for about an hour. We hash out all the details for the final week leading up to graduation and then I read them a book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Suess.
I wrap up the morning by a few last pieces of “life advice”, tell them what they mean to me as a class, and always, always tell them “I Love Them.” This isn’t a hollow sentiment, but one I truly believe as each and every class does mean something to me and I do love them for who they are and the wonderful adults they have become. Some are taken aback by the comment, some are confused, while others get it!
Educators are in this wonderful profession because of our passion for kids. I know at times it can be trying, wearing, exhausting, frustrating but with patience and persistence we are making a difference and hopefully we all get that “I love you” moment.