Graduation: a time to recognize the important accomplishments

A pair of 2015 Los Banos High graduates reflect the joy of their day.
A pair of 2015 Los Banos High graduates reflect the joy of their day. Enterprise file

Graduations from Los Banos and Pacheco high schools will be the highlight of this week for many Los Banosans, including graduates, their families and their friends.

Senior citizens like me have seen many graduations over the years. But most older adults, including me, never tire of them or take them for granted. In fact, the older people get, the more they seem to appreciate graduations.

That’s the case again this year for me when two of my grandsons participate in graduations in the San Diego area. One will graduate from elementary school, the other from junior high. Their schools don’t call them graduations but “promotions.” I, however, refer to them (appropriately, I believe) as graduations. A third grandchild, Dallas, will be promoted from an elementary school in Los Banos, but there will be no ceremony. I still consider her a graduate.

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Pacheco High School graduation ceremony Fri., June 3, 2016 at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Los Banos. GENE LIEB/glieb@losbanosenterprise.com Enterprise file

The root word of graduation means “step,” as on a ladder or stairway. And my grandchildren Alec, Dallas and Jaxon have earned the right to take their next educational step, with Jaxon moving on to high school and Alec and Dallas to junior high.

This is a good time for them, as for all graduates, to acknowledge their accomplishments. All three of them have worked hard and put in extra time to study and learn. All three have been involved in sports or dance as well as academics, keeping physically as well as mentally fit.

But I hope Alec, Dallas and Jaxon (as well as all graduates this week) acknowledge above all their growth as persons. These three young people should take pride in their development as academically curious and resourceful persons. But they should take greater pride in being well-grounded individuals who are kind and courteous to their friends and who care deeply about their family.

John Spevak New Photo
John Spevak, columnist for the Enterprise. Enterprise file

This point was made recently when the family of legendary quarterback Bart Starr praised him at his death, not for leading his Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships, but for “the respectful manner in which he treated every person he met, his humble demeanor and his generous spirit.” That, more than success, indicates a life well lived; and those traits start early in life, when persons are young.

In the past few decades, too much emphasis has been placed on students building their “resumes” anticipating their next step — for high school students, college; for college students, a career. Their parents often devote too much time encouraging their kids to impress others, like college admissions officers or prospective employers.

Sometimes, this push creates a kind of frenzy in a young man’s or young woman’s life to keep busy doing something that will help them get ahead. This frenzy is exacerbated by the additional need for young people to impress their peers. Peer pressure, long a part of the human condition, is today compounded by social media.

As many researchers have noted, young people today are continually connected inextricably to their cell phones — expanding peer pressure to a wide net of anyone who texts or posts on Instagram, Snapchat or whatever other social media venue is trendy. There seems to be a strong impulse for young people to extravagantly impress their friends, often with photos as well as words.

Today it’s hard to be a well-rounded, well-grounded young person. Too many kids of all ages feel stress or experience depression because there is no way they can meet the increasing demands to add glitter to their resume or make the biggest impression.

So, when we see someone in our family—a child, grandchild, niece or nephew—graduating from any level (from kindergarten to college) and he or she is not only a successful student but a well-rounded individual, they deserve to be honored. The graduates should also use this time to recognize these qualities in themselves, which are the most important personal characteristics today and throughout their lives.

I’ll try to do that for my three grandchildren. And I hope all Los Banosans, not just senior citizens, do that when they attend graduations this week in their community.

On another note: There is still time to support the Los Banos veterans group in their current fundraiser, a chance to win a “grocery grab.” The person who wins first place gets to go on a $500 “shopping spree” at the Los Banos Save Mart. The drawing will be held on June 11.

All proceeds from this event support the Los Banos Veterans Parade, which is held on the Saturday before Veterans Day.

Second place in the drawing wins a $150 gift certificate to Pearson’s Jewelers; third place wins a $50 gift certificate to the Courthouse Diner. Tickets are available now from any member of the local VFW or American Legion.

Anyone who has attended the Los Banos Veterans Parade appreciates its pageantry and the work that goes into it, all to honor those military men and women who have selflessly served their country.

John Spevak wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. His email is john.spevak@gmail.com.