Jun 4, 2017 - By Steven R. Peck, PublisherOur high school seniors strive for the profound -- and sometimes find it
We are a county of only about 40,000 residents spread across more than 9,000 square miles, six municipalities, nine school districts and a dozen graduation ceremonies in the past two weeks. That's a lot of cap-and-gown days -- and a lot of 2017 class mottoes as well.
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams," wrote the great 19th century observer Henry David Thoreau. "Live the life you have imagined." Seniors at Fort Washakie High School chose those words as their motto. Straightforward, obvious, yet complicated. Not every high school senior has fully imagined a complete life yet, and the dreams of younger childhood often start to change as adulthood nears. Simple isn't always the same as easy.
Choosing the class motto must have been easy at Arapahoe Charter High School, which had just two graduates in 2017. They opted for "Take the world as you find it, but leave it a better place." That's nice. We can hope that more people follow the motto than just the two ACHS grads, but the efforts of an individual can make a small but significant improvement in the lives of those around him or her. Never think you don't count. You do.
Wind River High School's motto has a familiar tone: "Together we have experienced life, separately we will pursue our dreams, forever our memories will remain." OK, but don't forget that dreams can be pursued jointly, too. That might even make better memories. Life is better-lived with others.
"Life moves pretty fast," begins the motto of the senior of St. Stephen's High School. "If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." Yes, Ferris Bueller lives. A corollary: Life is what happens to you while you're waiting for your life to happen. Be in it from the start.
Mark Twain is credited with the Riverton High School motto: "Twenty years from now, you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover." Life needn't be comprised only of its disappointments in the rear view mirror. Those are unavoidable. Make as much of your life as possible about doing things you are proud of. That will make the inevitable disappointments seem smaller.
Look for value within yourself, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in the class motto picked by Shoshoni High School: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Graduates, your peace of mind and sense of self worth will be shaped by how you engage and how you react. That starts and ends with you, no one else.
Lander Valley High School's seniors liked a verse from a Marvel Comics hero, Tony Stark: "Following's not really my style." Many senior classes are determined to express a sense of independence, sometimes even defiance. The exuberance of youth is to be admired and envied by those who no longer posses it. We'll leave it at that.
Mottoes adopted by graduating seniors typically are laden with thoughts of a journey completed, with what is finished. Soon enough most come to understand that the four years spent in high school are small when cast against the fullness of life. So we'll give the tip of the tassel this year to Lander's small alternative school, Pathfinder High. The five grads went out with "Don't look back. You're not going that way."
That stays true, no matter how old you get. Good luck to our Fremont County grads. We're counting on you.
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