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  • Annie Helms

Speaker Lets LFHS Seniors Give Advice to Graduating Eighth Graders

By Annie Helms Annie Helms is the District 67 Board of Education President. She gave these remarks at the Deer Path Middle School graduation recently.

It is such an incredible honor to be able to address the class of 2023. I spent a lot of time thinking about what message I could share with you that would include some wisdom about the path ahead.

Annie Helms Do a simple Google search, and you will find many examples of famous adults – authors, Presidents, movie stars and entrepreneurs – giving good advice in graduation speeches. You can even watch a four-star Navy Admiral tell you why it’s important to make your bed every day – something that I happen to think is excellent advice.

But these speeches all involve advice from adults -- people sharing the benefit of their perspective from 20, 30, 40 years away.

So, in thinking about what wisdom I might impart today, it occurred to me that perhaps you wouldn’t want to hear from somebody’s mom about what she thinks someone in high school should or should not do. I haven’t been a high school student since the Dark Ages when people made each other mix tapes and no one even had a cell phone.

Instead, we asked this year’s graduating class of Lake Forest High School seniors: What advice would you give your 8th grade self at this important moment in time? The response from the seniors was terrific, and much more useful than anything I could impart.

So, without further ado, I give you advice from the very people who were sitting in your seats just four years ago:

First, several students reflected on the importance of friendships and being kind to others:

  • One student told us, “I heard a quote that said, ‘You always have the choice to make someone's day better or worse; choose wisely,’ and I think that's super important to remember. Plus, you never know what others are going through, so simply being nice to everyone is so important.”

  • Another said, “Do what you want to do even if everyone else is doing something different. It's better to discover a new interest and make new friends than follow everyone else and do something you don't enjoy very much.”

Here’s another big message: time management:

  • One student even thought, “Time management is the key to happiness. Download something like Google Keep or Google Calendar and organize your time wisely. The more you plan out your time, the more time you feel like you will have.”

  • Another advised, “Take the time to do every assignment the way it's supposed to be done, work a little bit every day, and you'll never have to worry about cramming for a test or getting your grade up before the end of the semester.”

Several particularly wise seniors reflected on making mistakes, asking for help and not being afraid to be yourself:

  • Said one senior, “Don't be afraid to ask for help. The staff is very understanding, and it is best if you communicate.”

  • Another reminded us, “Everyone makes mistakes. It's important to give yourself time to reflect so you can forgive yourself and others.”

  • One senior said, “I don’t care so much about what other people think. Everyone is worrying about that, and it is just so much more freeing when you are truly, authentically yourself.”

The number one thing we heard from the seniors? Find a balance between working hard and having fun, and take time to explore all of the many things that high school has to offer:

  • Said one student, “I wish I had taken more classes that I was interested in, rather than classes that my mom wanted me to do or ones that I did because they ‘looked good’ on college applications. There are a lot of great opportunities at LFHS. Try as many things as possible.”

  • Yet another: “I would tell myself to get involved with as much as you can and put yourself out there. Be open to making new friends, go to school events, join clubs and sports! Make every moment count.”

  • “Take in every second over the next four years. Don't waste it because, as soon as you're a senior, you will find yourself wanting to do it all again.”

So, Class of 2023: Advice from a group of people who know a lot more than I do about what it takes to succeed in high school. I truly hope you are able to take some of this advice with you as you enter your next chapter. And know that all the adults around you are proud of you, we love you, and we will support you every step in the way.

And please, make your bed every day.

Thank you.


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