To the Class of 2017

From the desk of Rod Fletcher, Headmaster (on the morning of Senior Breakfast to the graduating class of 2017):

Seniors, if you have not noticed, the adults in your life are feeling very nostalgic right now.  They are having thoughts like:

  • It was just a minute ago that I holding them on my lap.
  • It seems like yesterday I was teaching them in middle school.
  • I can’t believe they are already leaving us.

Now don’t get me wrong, they are also having thoughts like:

  • My goodness, college can’t come soon enough. (Parents, I recently heard someone say that life truly begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies).

But, another thought the adults around you are having is:

  • Are they prepared for the world out there?
  • Did I teach them everything they need to know?

Every year at this time when I look at the seniors in front of me I have those thoughts.  You have been under our watch; did we prepare you?  Is there anything else you should know?

So, I am going to do what you can expect from your parents a lot during the next few months before they send you off to college.  Leave you with some final thoughts.  This consists of my advice (some more important than others) on governing college life and the rest of your life.

  • Oil is more important than gas in a car.
  • Wash clothes regularly.  Cologne will only cover up so much odor.
  • Have an alarm clock and be on time.  When your grades are borderline, timeliness may be the difference between a C and a B.
  • Remember Deuteronomy 6:18: “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you”
  • Always finish the test even if you have to skip questions initially.
  • Tires are supposed to have treads.
  • Don’t be afraid to take subjects unrelated to your major.
  • Take side roads.
  • Visit the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, and Fenway Park.
  • Ride a train.
  • Walk on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Study what inspires you and interest you, not just what you perceive will make the most money.
  • Remember 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
  • Instagram and snapchat will not get you through college.
  • A TV in your room as a freshman is guaranteed to bring your grade down at least one letter.
  • You can’t come in at 7 AM and expect to be ready for an 8 AM class.
  • Taking early classes frees up the rest of your day.
  • Go to class and know when your tests are.
  • Don’t get in the habit of missing class because you feel bad.  When you get a job you must go to work no matter how bad you feel.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Remember James 1:19: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry”
  • Guys, remember your mother’s birthday.  If you can do this certainly you can remember your wife’s birthday when the time comes.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • When people speak to you look them in the eye and listen.  Do not be thinking of your next response.  Sometimes people simply want you to listen to them, not give them a solution to their problems.
  • Work a wide variety of jobs during the summers of college.
  • Know your grandparent’s names and what they did.
  • At some point work construction or wait tables.
  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Read the Bible every day.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Sometimes at night lie on the ground and simply look up at the stars – enjoy the quiet.
  • Remember Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
  • Try to compromise and strive for win/win outcomes.
  • When your 100 level class in college shrinks from 200 students to 20 be sure you are 1 of the 20.
  • God’s plan is for sex to be saved for marriage.
  • Take a mission trip at least once.
  • Be willing to do extra work.
  • The people who are most appreciated at a party are not the ones who bring food, but the ones who clean up afterwards.
  • Never hate anyone, this emotion will consume you.
  • Go to church – even in college.
  • Remember Romans 8:38-39: “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”
  • Write letters often; it only takes a minute and it is a tremendous encouragement to others.
  • Remember that true character is displayed when nobody is looking.
  • Don’t get a reputation for being mediocre.
  • Realize that comparison is the thief of joy.
  • Consider being a school teacher.
  • Remember that alcohol is illegal until age 21.  Drugs are illegal at any age.  A criminal record will follow you like a shadow.  It will never leave you and is always most visible at your brightest times.
  • Remember Romans 3:23-24: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
  • Be generous to those less fortunate than yourself.
  • Watch the Discovery Channel.
  • It may be years before you realize what your teachers have done for you. Thank them now.
  • Shock you parents by hugging them and saying “thank you.”
  • Be friends with an older person.
  • Study art or some form of music.
  • Smoking causes thin skin, wrinkles, hoarse voice, yellow teeth, yellow skin; it makes you, your car, and house smell bad; it thins your bones, and causes cough, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
  • Wear your seat belt.  Make others in your car wear their seat belt.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • SUV’s roll over easily.
  • If someone has only one item in the grocery line let them go ahead of you.
  • Always give up your seat for an elderly person.
  • Cheer for your team not against the other team.
  • Don’t measure your success by someone else’s failures.
  • Of all the phrases in the English language, the one which will get you the most respect, yet will be the least likely to cross your lips is “I was wrong.”
  • Remember that when you have a child life, as you know it, will cease to exist.
  • Say yes ma’am and yes sir.
  • If someone is trying to enter a street, let them in.
  • If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.
  • Study abroad.
  • Get to know at least one professor really well.
  • Don’t send a text you wouldn’t want to see the next day on the front page of the paper.
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:29-31)
  • Call your parents often.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • There is a direct correlation between going to class and passing a class.
  • Go to faculty office hours – if only for the purpose of making your professors think you care.
  • Find a good place to study – don’t’ tell your friends where it is.
  • Keep your word.
  • When you are on a date remind yourself that you are with somebody’s future spouse.
  • Dress modestly
  • Don’t borrow money unless it is for an investment.  Pay back what you do borrow and never carry a credit card balance.
  • Did you know that, if you save $5 a day, starting today, at 8% interest, you will have $1,200,032 when you retire.
  • Be gracious and flexible.
  • Be kind to animals.
  • Remember that Proverbs 6 tells us:  God Hates haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among his brother
  • Respect the law.
  • Thank veterans.
  • Only boring people get bored.
  • Tip well – an extra percent will mean a lot more to the waiter than it does to you.
  • Remember that asking for advice is a sign of strength.
  • Spend less than you earn.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Remember the words of Auschwitz survivor Viktor E. Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

There are going to be times over the next few years that, believe it or not, you may miss high school and the comfort and security of Brook Hill.  You will miss home and living with your parents.  You will miss your friends.  And you may get lonely, or feel alone, or experience confusion, or even get scared.

I want you to remember a promise from the Book of Joshua Chapter 1 verse 9.

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

And finally, I just gave you a ton of advice – probably way too much.  I want to finish with five things that I believe if you live by them you’ll be just fine.  You have heard me say them before.

I say them to each of my boys at night, pleading with them to listen to me.  And now I say them to you:

Live pure. Speak true. Right wrong. Serve Others.  Follow the King.