Last night I had the privilege of standing before a crowd of proud parents and family members to help recognize the accomplishments of a group of outstanding students from the Oxford High School. The students were members of the National Honor Society and those selected for induction into the prestigious society.
More than 15 years ago, I too had the honor of being inducted into that society, although in those days the ceremony was held on the small stage in the old high school’s cafeteria. Now it takes place in the new high school’s stunning auditorium. I have to say, it is a much more fitting venue for such an occasion.
When I first received a phone call from Virginia Pluta, Oxford’s high school guidance counselor, asking me to speak at the induction, I was rendered speechless. It truly is an honor to be asked to return to your alma mater to address a group of students of such caliber.
I would like to say that it was easy to craft my speech, but it wasn’t. I struggled to find precisely the right words to convey the proper mix of congratulations and inspiration. It was no small task.
The friends and family I consulted were really no help. They all told me the same thing. “Don’t cry.” (Apparently, I’ve got a bit of a reputation.)
But they meant well. They knew, as did I, that standing before that crowd would be an emotional experience for me. I felt as though being asked to speak was almost as much of a milestone for me, as it was for the students.
Through our formative years, there are finite measurements of success that allow us to measure our accomplishments. Being selected for the National Honor Society is one of them. But after high school, after college, measuring success becomes more subjective. Some see a pay check or balance sheet as the only way to measure that success, but I have always seen success as something more.
For me, it is measured by the love of your family and friends; the passion you have for what you do; the pride you take in your work; the ability to make your own path in life; and the mark you leave on both the people around you and on the world.
I have always been proud to call myself a graduate of Oxford Academy, with its great history as an academic institution. And I was unbelievably proud to stand there last night, knowing I had been deemed worthy to address those students on such an important day.
While I felt like I had come full circle, for the fourteen students being inducted last night it is just the beginning of their journey to establish themselves as individuals and make their mark on the world. There is no doubt in my mind that their years at Oxford will give them the tools they need to be successful in life, as mine did for me.
It was not simply the induction of these students into the prestigious society that we celebrated last night, but all the accomplishments which lead them to that stage.
For they have already proved themselves by exhibiting the qualities held paramount by the National Honor Society – those of Scholarship, Leadership, Character and Service. They have excelled academically, exhibited leadership among their peers, exemplify good moral character and they endeavor to serve their communities.
Let me say once more, what an honor it was to be asked to speak before them. Congratulations to all of the members, new and old, of the Oxford High School Chapter of the National Honor Society.