Remembering the importance of peace, courage, and wisdom will be of tremendous value when continuing your journey. Life will get complicated at times, no matter our stage.

There is a lot of noise in this world, and we must seek quiet places and have quiet times to find peace within. There is stress st school, stress at work, stress at home, stress in relationships, stress all over. Before we know it, there is cognitive overload. Then, we find ourselves becoming explosive hurting others, often those closest to us, as well as ourselves. Some turn to drugs thinking they will somehow make life better only to find more noise. Lowering our standards when facing issues only results in more problems. Once on a spiral down, we must find a way to pull out of it, or there will be a major crash. Unfortunately, some never recover.

When going from Lovett Grade School in Lovett, an extremely small school and town, to Jennings County High School in North Vernon to Indiana State in Terre Haute, it took a bit of courage. During those changes, I also found out the importance of the word no. There may be a good reason why it is one of the first words we learn as babies! It may be suggested that we look a certain way, wear certain clothes, smoke a particular cigarette, drink a particular beverage, ... If we don't learn to draw lines and courageously take stands, then we will not like ourselves very much. Self-control, which undoubtedly involves courage at times, builds self-esteem, self-worth.

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is the combination of mind, heart, soul, and experiences which enables us to know, discern, what is important. Our decision-making each day contributes greatly to our happiness in the short term as well as in the long term.

I wish to end with the very first story you heard when entering my fifth grade classroom, a story heard years ago from one of many great teachers in my life, The Wise, Old School Teacher.

There was an old teacher who before the beginning of each period would get on his knees and bow his head before his students. One day, the head master walked by and noticed this event taking place. The head master then called the old teacher out into the hallway to inquire about this unusual activity. When asked, the old and wise teacher looked directly into the eyes of the head master and stated:

"Sir, I get down on my knees and bow my head before my students in honor of each of them and their gifts humbly recognizing I'm fortunate to be a small part of their lives."

There are all kinds of smart represented in each of us whether it be excelling in in words, numbers, art, music, hands-on, people, nature, or common sense. No standardized test can possibly determine smartness or success! Seniors, go forth, as my thirty-five other classes, into the the next phase of your life staying true to yourself, honoring the gifts you have been given and the gifts that will develop.

There may be a good reason why peace, courage, and wisdom can be found in one of the most popular prayers, The Serenity Prayer. I have said it a few times in my life!