Editor’s Note: Retiring Swift Creek High School Secretary Julie Skinner was the featured speaker at the 2021 Swift Creek Graduation. The following is her address to the group she affectionately called, her “Creekers.”
Greetings to the class of 2021 Bulldogs or as I prefer to call you, “My Creekers.”
I am honored to be your graduation speaker tonight. In the words of Winnie the Pooh, “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Over the years I’ve tested you in various forms and given out lots of unsolicited advice. I won’t be giving out any more tests, but I home you will always test positive for these things.
First: Test positive for treating everyone you meet with respect. The majority of this world will be strangers to you. Remember, we all share the same space here and in that space we can all share kindness.
Robin Williams reminded us, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
Test positive for living with dignity and helping others to live with dignity. If you see something that needs doing, just do it. Hold the door for someone, let others go first.
Third: Test positive for gratitude. Gratitude is readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Thank those people that have and will make your life better. You certainly have made my life better and I thank you for that.
With gratitude people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, love good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships. Swift Creek High School is built on strong relationships. You have had positive relationships modeled for you here. Become a role model for others in strong relationships.
Fourth: Test positive for work. Work is a noun meaning exertion or effort directed to produce something. Work is necessary to the survival of society. Do your part to make society survive. The world owes you nothing, nothing is free. Work.
Fifth Test positive for laughter. Testing for humor is an easy thing. It doesn’t involve a needle, a specimen cup or a question. Look around and observe people around you, they’ll most always give you something to laugh about.
Just look at yourselves tonight in these silly gowns and caps. Have a good laugh!
My last advice probably forever is this: be bigger than your story. Whatever was in the last chapter you wrote of your story that wasn’t what you want. It doesn’t have to carry on in the next chapter. Be bigger than your past, be bigger than your story.
Land your plane, don’t fly around looking lost. The staff and your family have tried to refuel you in the air. Land your plane. Make a solid plan and join us in the adult world. It’s not so bad here.
How happy I am that I have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. Love you I will always look for good news of you.
From the staff of Swift Creek High School, we say Good luck to tonight’s graduates.