McKibbin’s Scribblins: It’s all about relationships
Public speaking has always been one of my biggest fears. Some people who know me and my professional background are surprised to hear me say that, but it’s true.
Despite my years on the radio and somewhat public position as a reporter, I’ve never wanted to stand up in front of a crowd and do something like deliver a commencement address at a high school graduation.
People do them all the time at this time of year, across the country. Apparently not in England, though. (See our front page story on one special teacher who traveled a long way to be at Rifle High School last Saturday for more on that.)
I’ve never been asked to tell youngsters what they should do at such a critical point in their lives, and don’t want to be, either. But I’ve grown to like what some commencement speakers have to say.
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Take Rifle’s. Longtime teacher, coach and city councilman Jonathan Rice talked about building relationships, not necessarily all the knowledge the Class of 2013 gained in the hallowed halls of the school building.
“High school is a time of identifying your gifts,” Rice told the graduates. “But as you go forward, it’s not about the performance of those gifts, but the relationships you gain because of them.”
Rice drew deserved applause when he noted recent gun-related violence in Colorado and elsewhere might lessen if people got along better with each other.
“There were efforts by our leaders to pass gun control measures,” he said. “Whether you believe they will change anything or not, the main thing we all can do to help prevent these things from happening again is to work on our relationships.”
Rice noted the class song, “Don’t Stop Believing,” by the rock group Journey, “could have been my class song, too,” since it was popular several decades ago. But the song’s message remains as important today.
“Get out there, kick some butt and make this world a better place,” Rice ended his address to enthusiastic applause.
That was a darn good speech, in my book, with an important message for youth about to take their first steps towards adulthood.
Even the class valedictorian, Kellan Johnson, had some of the same advice for his classmates.
“Today’s the day we take the training wheels off the bike and ride on our own,” he said. “So celebrate what you will become and embrace it.”
It’s been a long time since I sat and listened to the speaker at my high school graduation. And I honestly couldn’t tell you what he or she said. Maybe it all sinks in subconsciously and helps guide us as we go out into the world. Others will remember those words as long as they live.
Either way may work well. Time will tell for the new graduating classes.
All we can really do is wish them happiness and a life worth living.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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