By Bob Houghtaling
Dear Graduating Seniors,
Congratulations! I am hoping that you, your family and friends will find time to celebrate this important occasion.
Before leaving town for vacation, work, the military, or school, I would like to ask for a moment of reflection. By this I am hoping we can recognize some of the people who have helped get you to this point.
Along the way, preschool, elementary, and middle school teachers provided a great deal of assistance. Sure, the high school faculty have played a huge role, but let’s not forget those who helped develop the basic building blocks for success.
Let us also remember how coaches, special instructors, school resource officers, employers, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries and others played their roles as well. You have been part of a supportive community. Speaking of supportive communities, do not forget to thank your fellow classmates. They became friends, interlocutors and a part of your class’s fabric. They made you laugh, presented challenges from time to time, and created memories that 20 years from now will evoke powerful emotions.
While you should be proud of the accolades and attention given for graduating, this accomplishment did not occur in a vacuum. We live in a world where, despite offering the tools to communicate and gather news in a flash, far too many people feel isolated. Fewer people speak with each other face to face than in earlier generations. Feeling connected to others is an important part of the human experience. Recognizing the importance of these connections goes a long way towards future success. Eventually your family, work and social endeavors will call for human interaction.
As the world grows smaller there is an ever-increasing need to forge new relationships, recognize differences and find ways to connect. We depend on each other. The world is a safer and better place when emphasis is placed on our interdependence.
Come back one day and visit – in perhaps 10, 20 years or so. Memories will flood the moment and, in a twinkling, they will take you back for times that shaped your world. You presently live with possibilities galore. Yes, the world will present many challenges. Sometimes these will be daunting, at first. Reach out and create new friendships. Collaborations, like an art form, will produce memorable events along the way.
It has been an honor to have worked with you during the last few years. I am confident that today’s young people will make for tomorrow’s caring and involved citizens. Have a wonderful summer. May the future be filled with opportunity.
Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.