• David A.F. Sweet

‘Believe that you are smart, strong, brave, beautiful’

Tom Herion has been principal of Deer Path Middle School for two years. The following are his edited remarks from the Class of 2022 graduation, his final one at the school: Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to serve as the principal of Deer Path. And two years ago, as many of us balanced life that included a pandemic and a new thing called quarantine…some of us decided to do things like buy a Peloton bike and binge-watched TV shows such as The Office or Friends. For me I picked up a TV show called Ted Lasso.

Deer Path Middle School students listened to speakers as they attended graduation ceremonies on May 31. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, the series follows Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who is hired to coach an English team. While he has never coached soccer before, his gregarious personality matched with a quirky philosophy on life – resulting in Ted Lasso having some luck in winning a few soccer matches but more importantly, developing relationships with his team and helping people learn who they are outside of the game of soccer. What I have learned from watching Ted Lasso, are some life lessons that I carried with me throughout my brief tenure here at DPM and want to share them with as you move onto the next chapter of your life, high school.


Believe in yourself!


One of the most important messages I can deliver to you is believing in yourself. Believing in yourself is more important than anyone’s validation about who you are and what you are worth. Believe that you are smart, you are strong, you are brave, you are beautiful.


Lack of hope and faith in yourself is what can come back to get you! I believe in hope and I believe in belief. Belief in yourself will help with your success but remember that success is not about the wins and losses, rather it’s about the journey, the process and lessons learned.


Take on the challenges delivered to you Take on the challenges of making new friends, joining sports you’ve never played before or clubs that push your interests. Taking on challenges is a lot like riding a horse. If you are comfortable while doing it - you are probably doing it wrong! When you take on challenges you discover your true potential and learn more about yourself and what you are capable of doing. Life is one big challenge and if you take it head on and believe in yourself - there is no telling what you can achieve.


Look out for each other When times get tough in high school, and more importantly life, know that when you need to - you should lean on those around you, your friends and family. You will encounter tough times that will make you feel sad; but there is something worse than being sad -and that is being alone and being sad.


None of you are alone. You have each other - The DPM Class of 2022! You have your volleyball teammates - your friends from period 6 creative arts class - you have each other! Remember to be there for each other in times of celebration and times of sadness. Take a look around. There were a lot of tears on Friday as we walked out of Deer Path one last time.


Let’s be grateful that we are doing this together.


Remember, change can be scary - one minute you are in kindergarten, playing freeze tag with your friends during recess - the next thing you know you are at WEB day and sooner than that you are graduating 8th grade and going into high school. Most of the time change is a good thing, in fact that is what life is all about. Life is built of moments and phases and the changes you go through along the way.


Lastly…


Be a goldfish!


As you start one of the greatest adventures of your life, it will be a time for making mistakes and while learning to not let them weigh you down. There is a reason why goldfish are the happiest animal on earth…they have a 10-second memory and they just keep swimming! Don’t hang onto the little mistakes or missteps you have along the way. Onward, forward, your next adventure awaits you! Be a goldfish! I believe that erasers were put on pencils because of the fact that people make mistakes in LIFE. You make a mistake, you learn from it, you flip that pencil over - erase it and start over again. Just take a little caution that while you write the story of your life you ain’t flipping that pencil over too often or you’ll run out of eraser…and you’ll be doing a lot of scratching things out and well that makes the story of your life harder to tell. And today you are writing the ending of one chapter and the start of another…you can do it!


I could not be more proud of you! I am honored to graduate DPM with you as we both say farewell to this place.


Congratulations to the Deer Path Middle School Class of 2022 on what you have achieved and on the opportunities that lie ahead.