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As you read this, the NRHEG senior class of 2015 is entering its last week in high school. This is another fantastic group of kids, many of whom have shown tremendous growth since their time haunting the junior high hallways. I was even told that there are over 40 honor students this year – way to go!

It’s a rowdy time in the school. I remember teaching seniors years ago and trying to keep them on task in May, especially their final few days. All students get this way, but knowing that the shackles are about to come loose for the final time is a special anticipation that we really only experience once. Sure, it’s exciting to finish college, but it didn’t feel quite the same; after all, I only spent four years there compared to the 13 from K-12. Plus, I knew that meant I had to really become an adult and get a real job!

I was thinking about those honor students. I also thought about all the great athletes we have. That led to thoughts of the tremendous musical talent I’ve witnessed, as well as the theatrical exceptionalness. Add to that the students who have shown their muster through FFA and building some amazing projects in the shop. What a wide range of talent we have at NRHEG! Every student seems to find a niche and an area in which he or she can truly shine.

And this is why it’s so important to do more than JUST be a student. There are so many talented people in our world, and as students exit high school and some eventually further their education, while others hit the work force or join the military, life is about so much more than grades.

Some students were grumbling recently about how useless they thought various classes were. I managed to show how some of my knowledge of chemistry was useful in cleaning up spills and how knowing some physics is important to understanding how to make a baseball make some funky moves on its way to the catcher’s mitt. Sure, my economics class in college didn’t do much except fill out a requirement, but you never know when something I learned there might pop up and become useful.

Life should be a broad canvas, not just a narrow paintbrush. I’ve known kids, both when I was in school and since I’ve been a teacher, who were so focused on getting good grades that they missed out on other opportunities. Plus, as some of them found out, when employers look at resumes, they want more than just good grades. After all, we don’t take many tests at our everyday jobs, do we?

To our seniors: paint in big, beautiful strokes! Cover the whole picture with color, not just the main part! Fill out your resume with more than just work-related items. In today’s competitive marketplace, no matter what your occupation of choice, showing that there’s more to you than just another drone is vital.

After I was hired and had been at NRHEG for a couple of years, I asked our superintendent, Mr. Lorenz, what about my resume stood out. After all, I was fresh out of college and had no teaching experience. There were two things that he told me jumped out at him: I had directed the pep band at Winona State and I collected comics.

Some of you might wonder why I would put those things on my teaching resume. It was for the very point I’m trying to make: I had to stand out. About 90 people submitted resumes to NRHEG in 1996 for an English position. Mr. Weber and I were both hired. Those aren’t great odds, but we managed to be unique. Would pep band or comic book collecting make me a better teacher? Maybe not, but they showed that I had a life outside my classes and that I was willing to get involved.

So, graduates of 2015: add to your resume! Show the world that each one of you is special and has talents outside those that will earn you money. Not only might those things help you get a job, but you’ll enjoy life so much more. It’s nice to leave work behind and just do something you enjoy.

And please enjoy the end of your high school career! It’s a wonderful time, filled with memories. Please carry your Panther Pride with you and be positive, responsible, respectful, and safe as you move on to your own paintings!

Also, to all my readers, please have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Take a moment to remember all those men and women who have given their lives so we can grill out and enjoy freedom with our families and friends. God bless America!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is opsimath, which means one who learns late in life, as in, “The opsimath looked back on a life too full of work and wished he had spent more time smelling the roses he used to love.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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