To the LHHS Class of 2007,

Congratulations! You’re finished, and yet you’ve just begun. I was thrilled to hand a diploma to many of you at your May 19 commencement, celebrating your academic achievements and wishing you well in the next part of your journey. You have been a special part of my life for the past 13 years, and I cherish wonderful memories of Indian Guides and Princesses, field trips, SVAA, dance recitals, cotillion, choir and band concerts, athletic events, talent shows, theatrical productions, pep rallies, UIL competitions and countless other moments. You have made me smile, laugh and cry. You have thrilled, surprised, impressed, and inspired me.

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I wish I had “perfect” words for you, but I don’t – nobody does. You are individuals with unique God-given talents, passions and gifts. There are some common threads in your lives, however, and I want to share some thoughts with you as a parent, community member, volunteer, school board trustee and friend.

My favorite quote at times like this is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Post-graduation is the perfect time to take a self-inventory about what lies within you. What brings you joy? Not just happiness, but that inner excitement, glow, emotion and contentment that defines you. Maybe it’s something you have never realized or envisioned. Explore the possibilities of life and living. Discover your passion and pursue it.

Be a sponge and soak up the new and varied sights, information, opinions, places and people you encounter. Make the most of these opportunities and learn from them. Never waste a day.

Invest in the people around you and be compassionate toward others. Discover how you can bring joy, laughter, support and encouragement to them. Share your time, energy and heart to make a better life for someone else.

I am confident that you are ready for whatever lies ahead of you. Your education foundation will serve you well, supported by the countless lessons learned from families, schools and community. You are not only prepared for college, military or the workforce, you are prepared for life. You fall squarely within a quote from Nikki Giovanni’s recent speech to the grieving Virginia Tech student body and community: “We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities.” Dream big and set your sights on specific goals – then reach, pursue and strive to make those dreams come true and the goals a reality.

Will there be challenges ahead? Of course, and they will surface in all facets of your life, both personal and professional. Don’t despair or get discouraged. Rather, face impending challenges with confidence, courage and commitment. When you face the mountains of life, keep your eyes on the summit, utilize your talents and resources, take one step at a time, and never give up.

Surround yourself with good friends and seek guidance from trusted mentors. Rely on resources of spiritual faith and the wisdom and experience of people you trust. Life is not lived alone or in a vacuum. The familiar lyrics ring true: “We all need somebody to lean on.”

Lake Highlands is a special place. At times I’m sure you feel like you live in a bubble and under a microscope – adults know what car you drive and what you’re doing. However, you are blessed to be surrounded by a community that wants only the best for you, yesterday, today and tomorrow. I encourage you to take a moment to say thanks to your families, teachers, friends and the many others who helped you throughout the years.

Best wishes for a life of joy, peace and contentment.

We will be watching you with pride.