Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Honoured Guests and especially to our St. Mary’s Graduates of 2018. It is always a pleasure to attend our graduation ceremonies and bring greetings on behalf of the entire school division.
A number of years ago I was asked to do some work in New York City and provide mentoring to some American principals. One of them was the principal of a high school with over 3000 students. Most would automatically assume that this school had everything to offer but as I shared some facts about our schools, locations, grade configurations and student population, she started to wonder what it would be like to be an administrator at a school like that and then the most important question, “What was it like to be a student in those schools?” She assumed like many people who grow up in the big cities that opportunities would be less and well the experience just wouldn’t quite be the same. The more we spoke, the more she came to understand that small doesn’t mean a lack of but rather, more of… strong values, family ties, close relationships and connectedness.
I’ve had the pleasure of being a principal in two small town schools, High Prairie in northern Alberta and right here in Taber. And I can think of many of my former students who had big dreams and more importantly are fulfilling or have fulfilled those big dreams. It is not the size of your town that limits your dreams, it is the size of your mindset. What are you prepared to do to challenge yourself, to continue to grow and improve? Carol Dweck, the author of the book, “Mindset: The Psychology of Success” says, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” Big dreams are not limited to big cities. Country star, Miranda Lambert, pop artist Pink, the TV show Friends actor Matthew Perry, actor Matthew McConaughey, legendary Canadian director, James Cameron and numerous star athletes have made their dreams come true beginning in a small town and small school. And don’t forget the many saints who began their lives in the humble surroundings of small towns.
Taber and in particular St. Mary’s, has provided you with all the great values and traditions that make living in a small town and attending a small school valuable. And the school has also ensured that you’ve developed a strong growth mindset so that you could set your standards high, dream big and always strive to get better, whether it be in your personal, academic, athletic, fine arts and spiritual life.
As you leave St. Mary’s and chase your big dreams I want to leave you with this quote from Carol Dweck: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of a growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” Don’t limit yourself to small ideas or small goals. Dream big and most importantly, always strive to be the best version of yourself. Your small town and your small school are excited to see your big dreams come true!
Congratulations graduates of 2018! God bless!