Nope. You read that right, in the midst of celebrating the Class of 2016, I have a few words for a very special class – the 8th grade class of 2012 (who, yes, are also the high school class of 2016). This class was so special to me. They were my favorite ever! The pictures below are from a special celebration at my former school – the school where I taught them from 6th-8th grade. They hold a Baccalaurate Mass there for all the seniors of the parish – whether they went to school there or not. The Catholic high schools have their own Baccalaureate Masses, but this is a great chance for the friends from different schools to be together to celebrate their graduation, despite attending at least 7 different schools. In the days following this Mass, I was able to attend 2 graduation ceremonies for some of these kiddos.
To the class of 2012,
It makes sense that you guys would be my favorite class of all time… I mean, you did have my favorite number as your grad year from 8th grade, and your HS grad year is a perfectly delightful perfect square. Gotta love that, right? You have been on my mind a lot these last few weeks as I prepared to join you at HT for Baccalaureate, prepared to join you for SFHS and Pondo graduations, and saw so many beautiful pictures of you pop up on Facebook.
From my first days at HT when you were in 6th grade, it was obvious you were a unique class. Your parents raised you to be more of a family than a group of classmates. Somewhere along the way, you let me be part of that family. One of my first memories from those early days was being invited to Shea’s house for the parent social. It was my first glimpse into this beautiful extended family. That family remains intact today. I saw you attend each others’ graduations. I saw you in the view room and on the patio like no time had passed. Some of you have granted me the privilege of being my friends on various social media (or your parents have) so I may have a glimpse into your lives, and despite differing schools, I see you together. It warms my heart. The 8th grade graduation speaker at my school this year quoted the wise words of “Lilo and Stitch.” He talked about the importance of his class being his “ohana.” You were and are ohana – family – to each other, and to me.
St. Catherine of Sienna is quoted as saying, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” You have grown into amazing young men and women. Your academic talents were never in doubt – I knew you would find great success and extraordinary GPAs in high school. Your various talents have continued to grow – whether that made you an amazing speaker in speech and debate, a star in the musicals, a king of the school and of homecoming, a world class athlete, a leader in your faith, a leader for your community and country, an amazing friend, and a million other things in between. I’m proud of you. So very proud. Although I’m not usually there to cheer you on in person, I am always cheering you on in my heart and take great delight in hearing of all you’ve accomplished. I know your talents will continue to grow as you spread your wings and take off to your new adventures. You truly will be the ones to set the world on fire – to inspire passion in those you encounter.
As you move on and continue to write your own story, I hope that you will always keep your ohana close. I hope you will stay true to yourselves and the values with which you were raised. I hope the saddest days of your life are already behind you. But knowing that’s probably not the case, I hope you will always know the love of your family and friends to see you through whatever may come. I hope the path home will always be clear to you, no matter how far away you may roam. I hope you will be curious. I hope you will love and be loved. I hope you will be healthy and happy. I hope you will take risks, but stay safe. I hope you will never stop learning. I hope you find new friends who will push your boundaries, but more importantly, respect them. I hope you will travel. I hope you will stand up for what is right and just. I hope you will help those who need help. I hope you will always remain close to your faith, even if at times you may question it. I hope you will always look for the good in people and situations. I hope you will inspire others. I hope you will be humble. I hope you will meet challenges with grace and humility. I hope you will follow your heart. I hope you will never forget where your story began or those who helped you to write it.
So, congrats my extraordinary students. Thank you for letting me share a few steps with you along the way. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. I will always be here cheering you on.
With lots of love,