A Letter to the 8th Grade Class of 2019
To our 8th graders and their families,
Words cannot describe the joy and and also melancholy I feel as I think of all of our soon to be high schoolers and their families.
Joy, because this is such a special day. One that reflects a LOT of hard work on the part of these amazing young men and women. You have earned this right of passage. This day also signifies the sacrifice and dedication of parents, teachers, mentors, and the village it takes to raise a child.
Melancholy and bittersweet, because I am a homeschool mother to 3 children whom have already been through their 8th grade graduation, 1 more crossing the stage today, and 3 others hot on her heels!! My mama heart reminds me just how quickly time passes.
I want to tell you a little story about my eldest child, Gabrielle.
When Gabrielle was 18 months old, she was diagnosed with what the doctors called “breath holding spells”. The funny thing is that she doesn't really hold her breath at all. You see, due to trauma she experienced when she was little, Gabrielle’s oxygen saturation (meaning the amount of oxygen in her blood) lowers dramatically whenever she witnesses something overly painful or bloody, even at just the thought of it. So although she is breathing okay, there isn’t enough oxygen flowing to the brain. Because of this, she would faint and seize when she experienced or thought of anything painful, bloody, or overly stressful.
This meant that any doctors appointments, the dentist, cuts, bloody scene on National Geographic, a really good hit to the funny bone…you name it and she was out. Sometimes we could see it coming and other times one of the kid’s would just yell, “Mom, Gabby’s down again!”
When Gabrielle was in 5th grade, she came into the living room one evening and announced to the family that she was going to be barrel racer and a large animal veterinarian (Specializing in equine.) You can probably imagine our surprise!! The girl who faints and seizes when she gets a stubbed toe or sees a needle at the dentist office. A veterinarian? We may or may not have laughed a little but our girl is a stubborn one, so even after much discouragement from her parents…
“You know you will have to see a lot of bad things.”
“There will be lots of blood.”
“What if you pass out in a horse’s pen?”
She was fearless.
She knew what she wanted and she didn’t care what stood in her way. She was going to go for it.
As if fainting and seizing at the sight of blood wasn’t bad enough, we also had one other minor obstacle. We were a large family, on a very tight budget, and we also lived in the middle of nowhere.
But, within a year, her hard work and determination earned her a horse, lovingly gifted to her by her aunt, a replacement horse when that one met a tragic end, and a job at the farm down the road, mucking stalls in exchange for horse riding lessons. Even better…her trainer. One of the top retired barrel racers in the nation (most precious of souls), and her husband who happened to have won Bronc riding world champion.
She was living her dreams in a little rodeo circuit. And before long, she began to push herself even more, asking to bandage horse legs and give shots. There is truth behind the saying “Mind over Matter” and she was proving it. She had her fair share of scares early on but slowly, the blood and wounds and even the shin bumps she got while turning a barrel on the horse began to have less of an effect. She was making her body obey. She was training it to work differently.
And she prayed. A lot…..We all did.
Eventually, veterinary friends started to take her under their wings, pouring into her, investing in her, and believing in her. She was inspiring.
Fast forward a few years, student of Inspire, 15 year old Gabrielle (not much older than each of you) enrolled as one of the youngest students in ROC where she graduated top of her Animal Science Class as well as the Vet Tech. Program….and she didn’t faint or seize one time during her internship at Panama Equine Veterinary Hospital!!
She showed us that she could do what we all thought was impossible. Not only did she show us that she COULD do it…she did it with excellence.
These last 4 years of high school are a time to look forward, to think about what you might do when you graduate. Now is the perfect time to learn that even a dream job has paperwork. One of my favorite quotes, written by the famous German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Say that 5 times fast) and used daily in our home is, “ Learn to love what must be done.” You see, a man on a mountain top doesn’t just land there…he had to take baby step after baby step after baby step to get there.
These are your baby steps.
All of the work you have done to get here. To this day, the math homework, the reading and writing, all that you have already have accomplished…even though you may not see it now, you are climbing the mountain called “your future”. I believe Miley Cyrus says it best…”It’s the climb.” Not only are these your baby steps, you have had years of conditioning and this is the time you put all that you have learned to the test and push yourself.
This is your “finish strong”.
Gabby’s dream was to ride and work with horses but there were obstacles she had to overcome all by herself to get there. She had to learn how to do hard things.
This is the time you get to dream big, knowing that with a little grit, you can do anything. You can try new things, figure out what your talents are and how to best use them. A time to pursue your passions and to learn to love what must be done. Do your homework. If you are anything like my children, this is sometimes difficult. Parents, I am sure, can relate. But it is necessary. The “must be done”, the reading, writing, and heaven help us…the Algebra, is what got you here today and you should be so proud of yourselves. It is that same “must be done” mixed with excellence, perseverance, and discipline, that what will take you to where you want to go!
The mountain may look a little far away, but don’t be fooled, these are all very important steps you are taking to climb it. And as a mother who has already watched 3 of her children graduate into middle school, I want to let you in on a little secret. To you, the days go by oh, so slowly….but to us…your parents, teachers, and mentors, the years pass by much too fast. So today, when your mother, or grandmother, resource teacher, or mentor wants to hug you just a little too long or take just one more picture, smile and try not to roll your eyes. We know how quickly the time passes. In a blink of an eye, you will be a young adult, wrapping your hand around a high school diploma like one of my sons who is going to walk across this stage today, ready to conquer the world!
A few words of advice for you as you journey into this next wonderful chapter of your life.
Pat yourself on the back…give a peer a high five. You are in the final stretch of your K-12th grade education. That is a huge milestone!! Thank your parents, guardians, teachers, mentors, even that neighbor or friend of mom or dad…thank them for pouring into you. For sacrificing and investing in you. You are going to need them. Dream big and be brave. Look out for your friends and stay close to your family. Pursue your passions and your interests and use them to serve and pour into others. Do hard things…make yourself do what you don’t feel like doing and do it with excellence. Make your bed and do your homework. Remember, even a dream job has the work that is not so fun, but is so incredibly important.
Be a good example for those who are watching you more closely than you realize.
Have FUN and a good attitude works better every time.
Always remember…YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO!
We believe in you and are incredibly proud.
Congratulations 8th grade class of 2019…welcome to high school!!