I feel old

With nearly 200 Dickinson County graduates receiving their high school diplomas this weekend, it’s no surprise that several speakers sought to inspire the graduates from behind the podium. Your Dickinson County News staff split up so that someone was at each of our three graduation ceremonies.

I landed in Lake Park, where I found myself most inspired by Mr. Bret Greve’s brief farewell speech. He pointed out that the 2006 graduates learned all they needed to know about life in fourth grade. Science taught them the need for both positive and negative energy. Reading assignments taught them the importance of setting goals. Intramurals taught them the importance of following rules, and the fourth grader’s structured schedule taught them to make every moment count.

While inspired by his ideas, the thing that still stands out most from Mr. Greve’s speech was when he mentioned that in 1997, these seniors were starting fourth grade. 1997 was the year he started teaching fourth grade and coincidentally, the year I graduated from high school. In that moment, I felt old.

Now I know I’m not that old, and most of my body parts would agree… but I felt old on Sunday to be reminded that these high seniors were indeed nine years younger than myself. Time flies…

Having a bit more free time than expected Sunday afternoon, I decided as long as I was feeling my age, I might as well visit the graduation party of my favorite set of high school twins in Alta, my hometown. I joked with their mom that I spent every Saturday night for five years with the boys – back when they were in elementary school, and I was their baby-sitter.

We took a picture, we reminisced, my pastor joked that I was the reason these young track stars had learned to run so fast… and then it hit me – being “old” meant I had become one of those people who are “an influence.” An influence, as you know, is one of those people most graduation speakers mention at some point in their speech. They are the parents, teachers, grandparents, community members and others who have made an impact on the lives of the graduates.

Somewhere in the last nine years, I had gone from being influenced to being influential.

Now I can’t take the credit for making these kids track stars. I don’t remember much chasing or running from my experience baby-sitting the twins. Honestly, I only remember that the kids loved to play games, hated bedtime and were very curious about everything in life.

Regardless, they turned out to be great kids, and I hope I had some small part in that.

As the fourth grade teacher for the H-LP students, Mr. Greve was surely an influence on the Class of 2006. And while his speech surely inspired his graduating class, it turned out to be an inspiration for this Class of 1997 graduate as well.

“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” – Scott Adams, American Cartoonist