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Superintendent Message to the Class of 2019

Originally posted May 14, 2019

More than 1,110 seniors walked across the BOK Center stage Monday during the 2019 Commencement. It was the first time Commencement was hosted at the BOK Center, which provided more space for families, better WIFI, different décor but the same smiles and congratulations for seniors and their families. 

Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler congratulated the seniors, saying, “Graduates, this is a day about you. This is especially a day for your parents as with joy in their hearts they see the culmination of all those years of anxiety, love, panic, and costs in this moment of achievement and success.”

Hartzler advised seniors, “Live your life by choice, and not by chance. Regardless of life’s circumstances, it is you, the quality of your mind, the integrity of your soul, and the determination of your will that will decide your future and shape your life. Believe in the power of the human mind. Of doing something that makes you, your parents, your family, and your teachers proud.”

See his full text below:

Message to the Class of 2019

by Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler

Dr. Kirt Hartzler It is a pleasure to bring greetings to you, Class of 2019. Welcome also to all the friends and family members who have come tonight to celebrate your walk across the stage to become Union High School graduates. 

Tonight is a special night – for most of you, it concludes 13 years of school and is a rite of passage to transition you from one of the most important journeys of your life to another. For one of our graduates, receiving his high school diploma has been a 72-year quest. Please join me in congratulating Leo Johnson, class of 1959.  

Graduates, this is a day about you. This is especially a day for your parents as with joy in their hearts they see the culmination of all those years of anxiety, love, panic, and costs in this moment of achievement and success. For your teachers, it is a time to reminisce about how far you have come and express again our hopes and expectations for your future. 

The Class of 2019 has been a great one and has established a stellar reputation and legacy that will last. This class has made history by being the largest graduating class Union has ever had – over 1269 strong. Your legacy includes those things that have set you apart as a well-rounded one – stellar academic achievement, high levels of community service, national recognition in fine arts, athletics, leadership, and caring for each other. You have enhanced the reputation of your school and you have embodied the winning attitude of a Union Redskin. 

You, of course, have not done this alone! Each step along the way you have been supported by your parents, family, and teachers from Pre-Kindergarten to your senior year, who have made you their life’s work. I hope you take the time to personally thank them all as they celebrate with you and send you off with their best wishes.

(Dr. Hartzler then spend the next few minutes introducing members of the Board of Education and administrators, as well as class officers before resuming his message.)

Graduates, congratulations on fulfilling one of life’s most important accomplishments. All of us in this room would say you are off to a great start, that is, unless you forgot about Mother’s Day! But, if for some unthinkable and unfortunate reason you did, you can most assuredly redeem yourself by living by these words of inspiration that every Mom has offered up at least one hundred or thousands of times, regardless of generation:  “Don’t Forget to Make Your Bed.” 

As I set out to answer what so many of us – especially when we are young - consider to be such a seemingly worthless habit, I became profoundly convinced that it is indeed an inspiration that we should all live by. Here are three things I discovered and what our Moms have been telling us all along:

1.    First, making your bed gets you going. You will find it much harder to put yourself back in bed once you’ve already made the effort to make it. 

2.    Second, “Making your bed gives you a sense of accomplishment.” Life is hard and sometimes there is little you can do to affect the outcome of your day. But, our biographies on a daily basis need a sense of accomplishment – even if it only comes from the simplest act of making your bed.

3.    Third, “Making your bed starts off your day being disciplined.” Life is a constant battle of discipline, and your level of discipline could ultimately determine your level of success or failure.

Even with this inspiration, the truth is you have to be the one to determine your destiny in life. No philosophy, no place nor power, no material success can, for a moment, give you such inner satisfaction as the sense of living for a good purpose. This is not only a Mom’s hope, but it is our hope for each of you – that you find your purpose in life. 
Live your life by choice, and not by chance. Regardless of life’s circumstances, it is you, the quality of your mind, the integrity of your soul, and the determination of your will that will decide your future and shape your life. Believe in the power of the human mind. Of doing something that makes you, your parents, your family, and your teachers proud. 

Today, you start a new journey in life – a new course to sail. The philosopher Chardin used a metaphor of the ocean in thinking about life’s journey. He also offered up another bit of inspiration: “Instead of standing on the shore and convincing ourselves that the ocean cannot carry us, let us venture on its waters – just to see.” Now go and set sail on this open sea. Bravely venture onto the water to discover what opportunities lie ahead. Sail it not because you want the world to see you; sail it because you want to see and make a difference in the world. Oh….but before you set sail, “Don’t Forget to Make Your Bed.” 

Our best wishes will be with you!