Before we start I want to say thank you for trusting us with your children. As a new dad I can tell you how much this means even as I drop of my little one at day care. I spend up to 8 hours a day with your child. Some days can be difficult most are great. You give them to us and trust us to do right with them. Now we’re giving the back

I want to start out by thanking some people: first our wonderful teachers. You’re out there in the trenches everyday battling ignorance and stomping out stupidity. Your toughness to follow through with your students shows them you mean what you say and more importantly, that you care which means you believe in these young people.  Next, I want to thank our wonderful administration, it’s your vision that we carry out in the classrooms every day. You’re a great model of what leaders should be and our students have no idea how lucky they are to have people who stick to their convictions and lead by what they know is right no matter how hard it may be at times. Next I want to thank the students. Some of you came kicking and screening but you did the work, you listened, you obeyed, you grew: mentally and physically, and maybe you learned something along the way. Finally and probably most importantly I want to thank the parents. Without you none of this happens. You drive them, you make their lunches, you sign papers, I ran some numbers, if we add up all the progress reports and report cards you sign you had about 70 per year, over 280 in your child’s 4 year here. That doesn’t include any other papers and it’s no wonder not many of my other papers didn’t come back signed.  But all of you would gladly do that again for what you’ll be signing next: tuition checks.  Thank you again for your help in preparing the class of 2012 for graduation.

The man in this picture is John Wooden. The legendary coach from UCLA. He won 10 Men’s Basketball championships, 7 of them in a row. But what he is remembered more for is his impact on player’s lives, his wisdom and his legacy of being a great, man, dad, and husband. He also faced many challenges on his way to those 10 championships. During his first few years at UCLA he had to share a gym with the Gymnastics team. They had to move equipment, sweep the floor and sometimes they worked out at the same time. Not quite the winning formula for 10 championships. One of my favorite quotes of his is.  “It’s what you’ve learned after you know it all that counts” With 10 NCAA titles he knew that he would learn so much more after he won the championships than he did on the way to the 1st one.  This is really appropriate for today because now that these young men and women have learned all we have, the real lesson starts, it’s called life.

Graduation: a word that can strike fear and joy into your hear at the very same time. Joy and relief; thoughts of,

-“it’s over”

-“we’re done”

– “I’ve made it”

Fear and Apprehension: thoughts of;

-“what do I do now” ”

-Am I ready” ”

-Can I do this”

I am here today to tell you can do this and you are ready. Over the past 4 years of High School we have overcome some great challenges and hurdles to experience some of our greatest dreams and met some of our wildest expectations. We did all of those things by overcoming challenges that got in our way. What were left over were the experiences and the results that we will never forget. Which we achieved by overcoming challenges we faced every day.

I. We’ve faced some challenges here at Life School that we have turned into opportunities over the years. 

C. Who’s ridden on one of these to a game, competition, field trip etc? We have traveled more than anyone else. We figured it out, of all the time we spend driving to and from practice compared to our opponents every 2 weeks we fell behind by 1 practice. No One ever complained or made excuses about it. In fact we were on buses so much our kids got used to them could sleep and rest on any trip, even the 10 minute rides to practice, but this prepared us to be on the road and be successful

A. Anyone recognize this classroom? 9th grade geography anyone? It didn’t matter where we had class, portables, coffee shops, cafeterias; you all are still going to graduate, some of you with very high honors!

B. Does anyone recognize this location? FUMC Desoto is correct

Think about it for a second we had 30+ kids in gym with 2 hoops or 1 net yet we still won district championships and playoff games. This laid the ground work for success in the future.
These are the challenges we’ve overcome, but what’s next?

II. Challenges lie ahead of us:

A. Paying for College

-Interest rates: Set to double on govt offered Stafford loans from 3.2-6.4%

– Debt afterward

B. Job Market


C. Uncertainty in the Economy

-Stock market swings

-Inconsistent economic data

III: Overcoming those challenges: Why do people give up when they are challenged; it’s the easy way out. Now think about by your life more recently these past 4 years. Did you face some challenges? I’ll bet you your bottom dollar you did. Did the people around you let you take the easy way out? I know they didn’t, or some of you wouldn’t be here today.  We won’t let you. Your teachers wouldn’t, your principals wouldn’t, and your parents wouldn’t. See these challenges are learning experiences. You have 2 choices when your back is up against the wall; throw yourself a pity party or learn from it and use it to make yourself better. Sometimes it’s not fun, but the results are worth it if you are persistent.

Let me tell you a few stories: People whose challenges became opportunities to learn and grow…

-Eric Legrand: College Football Player Rutgers University: October 2010 Spinal cord injury while attempting to make a tackle covering a kickoff. He was paralyzed and when the extent of his injuries was discovered he was told he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.   Doctors told him he would need help breathing from a machine for the rest of his life anything more was out of the question. He had a choice: fight or flight, wilt or get back up. He was determined to fight. He announced he would live tweet his rehab and immediately attracted over 50,00 followers. Within 5 weeks he was breathing on his own.  One year later on October 29 He led the team out of the tunnel for their game. v. West Virginia.  By January 2011 he had regained movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout the rest of his body. By July 2011he tweeted photos of himself standing upright and announced he was regaining movement in his arms. How does a guy who was told he would need a machine to help himself breath get into this position. He took his challenge and flipped it on his head to become a story of strength and courage. He became a voice of hope for people fighting similar battles. In May of 2012 he was drafted by the Tampa Bay buccaneers of the NFL. The current head coach of the Buccaneers used to be at Rutgers and knew the type of character Eric had. The coach, like all the rest of us, was inspired by his courage, and made Eric’s dreams of being drafted come true. He now has a bigger stage to tell his story. His challenge was one to regain some basic bodily functions but he took his challenge and turned it into an opportunity to educate others about the advances in spinal reconstruction and rehabilitation…. He said when he can walk again one of the first places he will go is to the place on the field where he was paralyzed. He was going to lie down, reflect for a moment then get up and walk away.

-The second story is about my sister Leanne. She is the middle child out of 4, 2nd youngest. Always had the middle child syndrome, where she thought everybody picked on her and nothing was ever fair. That’s important because it made her tough enough for what she would have to handle later in life. Her challenge is beating breast cancer. In June of 2011 She found out she was pregnant and they would have their first child. We were all so happy for them and their new family. At the same time the doctors were watching a cyst in her left breast that had begun to grow more painful and begin to swell. Leanne and her husband Ryan went to the Dr and on through various visits and tests on October 11 she was diagnosed with Breast cancer. Being pregnant and diagnosed with Cancer she was scared to say the least. Our whole family immediately flew, drove to MN to be with her. She found strength to meet this challenge which came from her faith in Jesus Christ. She had 1,000’s of questions most of them about her baby which they would find out a few weeks later would be a baby boy. The cancer would not harm the baby but there was a chance he would be born early. She was able to do treatments, chemotherapy and a lot of medicine. She has to deal with a lot of pain, fatigue and all the other wonderful things that come from being pregnant. But through it all she stayed positive buoyed by the people around her, her faith and the excitement that comes from being a new mom. On January 10th Leo Christopher Miller was born. He weighed 3lbs 9oz and was 17 inches long. From here the Dr’s were able to more aggressively treat her Cancer but that brought more side effects and to a mom with a new born at home sleep and rest which she needed weren’t in the recipe. But she never missed a moment to be with her new son. No matter how tired, sick, or cruddy she was feeling she persevered. She continued her treatments until the cancer was dead. They killed it through all their Chemotherapy, treatments and medicines. She will have surgery on May 29th to cut the cancer out of her body. On that day she will pray and give thanks to God who took care of her and gave her the strength to stand up to this challenge and turn it into an opportunity to show people you can be strong even when you are supposed to be week.

Don’t let your challenges cripple you, Turn them into opportunities: opportunities for growth, opportunities to learn, and opportunities to make an impact on the lives of the people around you.

Thank you and God Bless.

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