Good evening graduates, family members, friends and guests. I consider it an  honor to be here with you on this special occasion.  

It is my pleasure to introduce the members of the Board of Education who are  responsible for the governance of our School District. They make policy by which  we operate. They are responsible for everything that happens in the District— budget, educational programs, extracurricular activities, this graduation.  

This responsibility takes a great deal of time and energy with little or no pay. As I  work with these Board members throughout the year, I can attest that their  greatest reward is your success, and your graduation is indeed a special occasion  to them also.  

 The President of the Board of Education is:  

 Mr. Elmer “Butch” McCans  

 Mr. David Shoemaker Vice President  

 Mr. Mark Mullis Secretary  

 Mr. Gerald Doede Assistant Secretary  

 Mr. John Maniaci Treasurer  

 Mrs. Kimber Labadie Trustee  

 Mrs. Linda Scheer Trustee  

I would also like to introduce our Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Michael Kell.  

Class of 1996, graduation is a happy time filled with excitement and a sense of  accomplishment; but it is also bittersweet with the realization that you will be  separated from your friends and will be facing an uncertain future. Certainly your  life will be different than the past 12 years.  

Graduates, I am sure that you have received much advice regarding the skills  required to be successful in your life. The importance of technology,  communication, math, science, and problem solving skills is often discussed.  

However, if the unknown author was here tonight who said:  

 Watch your thoughts, they become words.  

 Watch your words, they become actions.  

 Watch your actions, they become habits.  

 Watch your habits, they become character.  

 Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.  

He or she would advise you to be true to yourself, your family, friends and  community. While we want you to be successful, to get that job or profession  which you thoroughly enjoy, earn lots of money, become powerful and 

influential, the true measure of success is the kind of person that you are, your  relationships with others, your willingness to give back to the community in which  you live, your ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures—a beautiful sunset, a child  laughing, a flower, an evening with friends and family.  

This unknown author would also advise you that by being attentive to those  values that make up your character, you will also increase your ability to attain  material success. The top ten characteristics for successful employment as  identified by business and industry leaders are dominated by character related  issues such as having a positive attitude, responsibility, integrity,  honesty/reliability, the ability to get along with others and a willingness to learn  and to work.  

In a lecture at Harvard University over 150 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson  made this assertion: “Character is higher than intellect.” He knew that intellect  can grow and grow, but how one uses that intellect is most important—to have  well-thought out principles that guide your actions and are a basis for your  decisions throughout your life and to do what you know is right.  

I decided to center my comments on the character issues for success because you  are an outstanding group of seniors—highly motivated students who care for each  other, students who have worked hard, who possess great character, and are the  leaders of tomorrow. I want you to know that you are on the right path.  

This country does indeed need leaders in all walks of life that possess a well  developed set of guiding principles of good character: leaders who do the right  thing. So continue with your education and become the involved community  members and the leaders that we are confident that you will be.  

On behalf of the Board of Education, the Administration, teachers and school  family, I want to thank your parents for sending us such outstanding children. I  extend hardy congratulations to you seniors and good luck to you in your future  endeavors