Commencement: Untold Story
The Hillsides Education Center had its 29th graduation on Tuesday, June 4. One of the graduates chose a quote from Maya Angelou to describe what motivates her: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Graduation is all about achievement, but often the achievements are not just academic for the students at HEC. Their achievements have to do with the ability to tell an untold story that resides deep within and longs to be expressed. Untold, a story has the power to hold a person captive, however, when spoken it losses its power to hold and instead becomes an expression of a truth and reality. Sometimes what may be expressed is a hurt, an embarrassment, even anger, but inevitably the telling of the untold story is cathartic and life giving.
As our Education Director, Jay Bechtol, reminded the assembly, each graduating student at Hillsides is a valedictorian and given the opportunity to address those gathered for the graduation. As each student took their place at the podium, they had an opportunity to tell their story, a story of challenges, but also of resolve to see their way to this significant milestone equipped to look beyond this moment and set a direction for their lives.
As they head out on this next chapter, they do so confident of who they are, their abilities, even their limitations, not overwhelmed, but rather determined to be happy and successful.
I sometimes wonder what happens to the many aspirations that are shared at graduation, whether they are achieved or altered by harsh realities. Just as I was reflecting on this thought, I encountered a former student who had come by for the graduation. She was happy to reconnect with friends and staff at HEC and with great excitement filled them in on what was going on in her life at this time. I’m not sure what aspiration she had when she graduated, but it seemed to me from the encounter that some of them have been realized
As important as goals are, it’s the dedication to achieve them that makes all the difference. Inevitably goals change, lessons are learned along the way and hopefully a direction is set, and much is achieved. As another graduate summed it up with a quote from Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.”
Life indeed does go on with the help of so many family members and friends who support these graduates and walk along with them. To the graduates, their families and friends, the incredible staff of HEC, and all those who passionately support our mission, congratulations and thank you!