Today was the first Northfield High School commencement ceremony for me as Superintendent of the Northfield Public Schools. It was an excellent day — the weather was warm but not uncomfortable. Below is the text of the remarks I made to the graduating class of 2017:

Today is a special day. It is especially significant for my wife Mary and me since our oldest son, Jackson, graduates today. Though my receding hairline says otherwise, I am certainly not old enough to be the Dad of a high school graduate. There are many parents here today who share that same feeling.

I am so proud of Northfield High School’s Class of 2017. You have excelled in the classroom. You have advocated for fairness, equality, and justice. You have brought us joy with your artistic prowess and elated us with your accomplishments in athletics. Most importantly, you have demonstrated great character and consistently positive leadership for Raider Nation. Thank you for your immeasurable contributions to our school and community. They will not be forgotten.

Enjoy the present moment. Not just today, but every day. As many of the adults here, I have learned to savor the little things in life. Try, to the best of your ability, to recognize those special moments and lock them into your memory. Being present in the moment – and for the people you are sharing that moment with – is an incredible gift.

Many here today are thinking about the past — your past. They are remembering your first day of Kindergarten, a concert, a play, a big game, or another key point in your development over the last 18 or so years. Reflection helps us to develop gratitude. Think about your experience here in 

Northfield Public Schools and of someone who made a particular difference in your life. And tell them so. Research tells us that sharing our thanks actually has a significant impact on ou

r own mental well-being. You could be grateful for a neighbor, someone from your faith community, or any of the outstanding educators – teachers, coaches, or support staff – you have gotten to know in our schools. Here’s the tip of the day – give your parents a big bear hug today and thank them for their support.

Today, we are most excited for your future – because it is our future too. We are excited to see how you will embrace it in your own individual way. There will be triumph, trials, and more mundane moments than many of us would like to admit. I encourage you to develop a positive future narrative for your life. Set goals. Review them. Be open to changing them as life unfolds.

Finally, remember life will always about relationships. Strive to be a good listener. Seek opinions that differ from your own and work hard to understand them. Be kind and respectful. Consider how your actions impact others. Our society needs you more than ever. We need you to help us regain a collective sense of altruism – doing good things for others without expectation of anything in return. Because we can. It will bring what everyone wants most for you: happiness.

Enjoy the moment, graduates — reflect on your past, actively plan your future, and be good to one another. Congratulations. Now, go make your corner of the world a better place.

Staff at graduation ceremony