Faith one gauge of graduates’ readiness
That wonderful American ritual of high school graduations, too numerous to count, has arrived for the class of 2006. Caps and gowns will be donned, diplomas will be awarded and, in Hawaii, leis will be piled eye-level high on graduates who harbor their own special visions for a bright and glorious future.
On their special day, graduates will stand proud and tall before family, friends and faculty who have worked with them through good and difficult times, poor judgments and well-earned successes, and physical ups and downs, always knowing that through sincere caring and effort a bright tomorrow is always on the horizon.
As educators we are confident that each graduate has learned the necessary academic skills to succeed in life, the required discipline to be a good worker, the essential skills to communicate with others and the values of honesty and integrity that will help them become citizens in our community with a responsibility that is equal in weight and importance to that of even the most famous of our citizenry.
We also take the moment to remind our graduates that they are powerful engines for global growth as we celebrate their precious gifts for caring, loving, learning and the faith they bring to our world. We urge them to listen and think with their heads and hearts, to sing with all the strength in their lungs and to hear the music with a joy that knows no bounds.
We speak gently of the need to focus on our fellow human beings and of the beauty that touches someone's life by sharing our gifts and talents. And in the midst of our graduation celebration, we also need to remember that each of us, in our own way, must give back to our country, our church, our family, our friends and our God.
Forty-five years ago a young and charismatic American president, John F. Kennedy, at his inauguration challenged each of us to "ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country." These words brought a convergence of patriotism and faith never expressed quite so eloquently in America's 200 years of history. They were based on a simple and irrefutable principle: "To whom the most has been given, from them must the most be required."
It is our fervent hope that all of our 2006 graduates have been imbued with this timeless truth and that it has become an essential element in the foundation of their everyday faith.
We know that our everyday faith is tested again and again. For example, the war against terror, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, has scarred our nation. The senseless evil of terrorism, homicide bombers and irrational religious zealots have taught us how important it is to be a people centered in God, to be a people dependent on one another and to be a people committed to peace and justice with compassion for all. In essence these seemingly senseless conflicts have taught us to be a people of faith.
Indeed, in the final analysis, faith is what makes us understand that a person's real worth is not measured by wealth, secular wealth or popularity, but by goodness, caring and enduring faith. Our graduates know this has been God's way from time immemorial.
As 2006 graduates step into new arenas of life, we pray that they have learned to be people of faith who see each person as brother or sister, who seek out ways to serve their communities, who reverence all life and who cultivate goodness every minute of the day.
So, for all of us, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of graduation day is that we sense an optimism, renewed every year, where each celebrant believes that goodness is possible and always within grasp.
Betty White is head of Sacred Hearts Academy, an all-girls school in Kaimuki.