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WORDS TO LIVE BY: Mary Villano

"Can you imagine a world where all of us practiced the essence of nying-je?"

Mary Villano, interim principal 






























































































Graduation speeches logo

Good afternoon and welcome to our esteemed guests, Dr. Kathleen Bodie, Superintendent of Schools, Kirsi Allison-Ampe, chair of the Arlington School Committee, School Committee members and town officials, elementary and Ottoson staff, our revered AHS administrators and teaching staff, parents, guardians, family members and friends, and most importantly our graduating class of 2012.

To our Seniors, the class of 2012…

Let me extend my warmest congratulations to all of you as you make the transition from high school to the bigger world beyond. You have worked very hard, you have much to be proud of, and deserve to celebrate all of your accomplishments. You have spent the past thirteen years learning many things in many subjects. You have been challenged to think at higher levels, to analyze and evaluate information, to be creative and innovative, and to ask meaningful questions.

You have learned the value and importance of education and, as we look at your significant accomplishments, educational plans, and career goals, it is clear that you have learned these lessons well. So many of you have set and achieved very high academic standards for yourselves. Those standards will take you far in life.

I have put a lot of thought into what I wanted to say to you during this momentous occasion in your lives. We are all here because we value education and recognize how important it is to our future lives. I would now like to ask you to stop for a few moments to think about some other values that play an equally, if not more important role, in your future.

Values are beliefs and philosophies that are personal and meaningful to us. They can range from the commonplace, such as the belief in hard work and punctuality, to the more psychological, such as self-reliance, concern for others, and harmony of purpose. Over the past four years, we have discussed our school values as described in our ICARE statements.

Our staff has challenged you to think about how these values are reflected in our lives as students. I would like go a step further and challenge you to think about the role these values will play in your adult lives. I personally believe that these values are at the core of what is good and right and if everyone adopted these qualities, we would be better people and our world would be a much safer and peaceful place to live in.

The first ICARE value is Integrity, defined as an adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, and honesty. A person with integrity is the same person in the inside as on the outside, a person you can trust. A person of integrity does what is right even when no-one is watching. There is a need for Integrity in every corner of our society, in government and politics, in business organizations, in community agencies, in families, and in personal relationships. Can you imagine a world where every living person valued integrity?

Our second ICARE value is communication. I would like to expand upon the meaning of communication as we commonly think of it, to a different way of communicating the most important messages we can convey to our fellow human beings. The Dalai Lama describes a quality called nying-je (nyeeing jay), which is simply translated as compassion but connotes love, affection, kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit and warm-heartedness.

The Dalai Lama explains that the more we develop compassion, the more genuinely ethical our conduct will be. When we act out of concern for others, our behavior toward them is automatically positive. He further explains that by maintaining this positive disposition, there are no barriers between people.

By keeping in mind that ultimately, we are all brother and sisters, that there is no substantial difference between us, that all others share a desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, we can express our feelings as readily to all others as to those we have known intimately for years. And not with just with a few nice words or gestures, but really heart to heart, no matter what the language barrier.

Can you imagine a world where all of us practiced the essence of nying-je? A world where everyone treated others as they would like to be treated?

The third ICARE value is Accountability and responsibility. This is about taking responsibility for our actions, even when we make mistakes. It is not about always making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences of those choices. It is about living up to the expectations of our roles. It is about being trustworthy. It is understanding that sometimes things don't work out, sometimes you don't please everyone, sometimes you do something wrong, but it is only when you take ownership of your shortcomings that you can move forward -- capable of taking on the next challenge -- with self-respect and the respect of those around you. Nobody likes to be at fault, but if you hold yourself accountable when the fault is yours, you create an opportunity to learn from those experiences, and you can then earn the respect and trust of others.

Our fourth ICARE value is Respect. This is a term you have heard for many years. It is included in the core value statements of most schools from elementary through high school. And why is that? We come together in schools, on teams, in clubs, in jobs, and in a variety of situations. We come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic status, religions, and belief systems. One is not better or worse, right or wrong, more or less valuable. Basically, respect honors a person's values, religion, family customs, etc. It does not mean we have to understand or even agree with others, but it does mean that we are accepting and tolerant of others. It means we accept other people as they are, full face value and without conditions.

Respect needs to begin with yourself. You have been given life, a body, a brain, and the freedom to make decisions for yourself. Respect yourself first by taking care of YOU. Follow the advice of your PE and Health teachers to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. Exercise your mind by continuing to learn and engage in intellectual pursuits for as long as you live. And nurture your emotional health. Recognize when you are under stress and feeling overwhelmed. Take time to rest, to relax, and to enjoy life, family, and friends. Seek inner peace through whatever means works for you whether it is religion, meditation, yoga, or reflection.

Smile and laugh often. Life is hard. Life is stressful. Research shows that the benefits of laughter are far reaching as it reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones. So watch a funny movie, tell a joke, or fill your stairway with balloons.
The bottom line is that every human being deserves to be respected and it should start with you.

President Harry S. Truman once said, "We must build a new world, a far better world -- one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected." Can you imagine a world in which this was the norm?

The final ICARE value is Effective teamwork and cooperation.

Coach Vincent Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches of all time, once said, "The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” His beliefs around the value of teamwork led the Green Bay Packers on to five NFL Championships. He firmly believed and stated that “Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."

If you research any successful business or organization today, you will find that teamwork is integral to the daily operation of the company. Develop your skills as an effective team player. Learn how to work cooperatively and effectively in a group. Bring your strengths to the group and allow others to share their strengths. Your ability to be an effective team player will open many doors in your professional lives.
I would like to pass on one last word of advice: Have a hero. And I don’t mean superheroes, famous musicians or actors. I mean every day heroes, role models that spend their days doing what is right and serving the needs of those who are not as fortunate.

There are those among us who encounter considerable adversity and significant hardships yet do not complain. Instead, they work harder and better to improve their situations. They take major challenges that come at them and live their lives like the challenges are minor setbacks. They don’t feel sorry for themselves and they live life with a smile. Those people are my heroes and some of them are sitting among you today. Find someone you admire and try to emulate their attitudes, their perseverance, and their commitment to living life to its fullest.

Before I end, I would like to ask you to take a moment to thank the people in your lives that made it possible for you to be here today.

Begin with your parents and family members. Many of them have made sacrifices to provide you with everything you need to be successful. They have been your support system and your cheerleaders. They have loved and cared for you and have had confidence in your talents and abilities even when you could not see them yourselves.

I would also like you to thank your teachers, counselors, support staff, nurses, custodians and maintenance workers, and food service staff, who care about you and who worked tirelessly every day to support your education and school environment.

And now, as you graduate today, enjoy this time with your friends and classmates. Share your memories, laugh and cry together, reflect on where you have been and think about where you are going.

But most of all enjoy celebrating this wonderful occasion.

Congratulations, Class of 2012 and Have a wonderful life!

Thank You.

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