The COVID19 pandemic has taken us down a tumultuous pathway while seemingly testing us in every way. One area not always obvious is the impact social distancing has on children. This is certainly evident as high school students from the Class of 2020 suddenly felt their most celebrated year come to an abrupt halt, including the ceremonial events that typically occur.
However, I have been continually reminded that the cancellation or changing of an event does not void the reason for the celebration. Across our great state, we are still witnessing sweethearts getting married, babies are being born, and birthdays being celebrated in addition to many other wonderful occasions that are a part of our individual stories.
I recently heard about a father constructing a stage in his front yard so that his daughter could walk across it in honor of her graduation. With life’s biggest challenges, we must find within ourselves the existence of great opportunity. I am sure that graduate will never forget the walk across a stage built with tremendous love and pride from her dad. It was a blessing in disguise and proof that perseverance can lead us to overcome.
When it comes to our children, mountains can be moved. In Denton County, that’s what happened when local leaders and area independent school districts came together to partner with the Texas Motor Speedway to host graduation ceremonies. Utilizing the spacious track and staging at the finish line, approximately 14,000 area seniors spaced apart, crossed one by one in daily ceremonies while loved ones watched the Big Hoss screen. For those who could not attend, each ceremony was live streamed and remains online.
Sometimes the pathway we set out on is not the one that completes the journey. The current state has certainly taught our youth this lesson in life. As we watch this next generation of leaders move forward, it is an honor to share my best wishes on this wonderful milestone. So to the Class of 2020:
Congratulations on your recent graduation!
I encourage you to not lose sight of the invaluable lessons acquired throughout this educational journey that will continue to benefit you in the years to come. Whether continuing your education or entering the workforce, the academic knowledge and personal wisdom gained are yours and they are to prepare you for what is sure to be a bright and prosperous future.
Your graduation falls at a remarkable point in our history. The world is grappling with great change and facing the challenge of navigating the effects of a global pandemic. Texans
such as yourself have had to make many alterations including ending a school year prematurely at the most critical point as a graduating senior.
As trying as this has been, the future of our great state and nation will be dependent upon the resolve of aspiring leaders such as yourself. Your generation has the critical role in our ability to unite together in the face of adversity and foster our differences, challenges, and triumphs into this nation’s greatest strengths. This is your time to lead a life of great purpose and a moment that shows there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your dreams. Best wishes as you discover unlimited opportunities and relentlessly pursue your greatest aspirations.
With the celebrations of the graduates this month also brings another day of gratitude, Father’s Day.
Being a dad to one of your own or a father figure in many other wonderful ways – stepdad, adopted, foster, uncle, grandparent, coach, teacher, mentor – we have the incredible blessing of impacting youth. It’s one of the highest callings and greatest rewards in life.
Being a parent is not always easy. It’s not enough to simply be there, but it’s an active role of listening, teaching, and modeling – knowing it’s not about the life you want, but who you want your kids to grow up to be. With this kind of responsibility, I encourage other men to replenish themselves from time to time and be there for one another. Great organizations such as All Pro Dad, Family First, Promise Keepers, and Wingmen Ministries are only just a few of the inspirational organizations that can be helpful, but there are many more. There are also great volunteer opportunities for men willing to be there for youths in need of extra guidance and encouragement. From Communities in Schools of North Texas to Big Brothers to local sports programs, the possibilities to be a positive light are endless, but the need is dire for shaping the generations that follow.
Fatherhood is certainly a pathway of learning every day. I would like to think my daughters see me as a teacher, but in reality, I have learned so much from them.
May we always nurture our loved ones and embolden them in leading by example by tackling the challenges that lay ahead with wisdom and discernment.