The View from My Section

Advice for the Class of 2017…it’s been a long road, but a short trip

The Class of 2017 will always be special to me; in simplest terms, because I know a lot of you guys. My oldest son is part of this class and I’ve watched him grow up with this exceptional group of young men and women from the first day of school. Since that first day of kindergarten, your parents, along with my wife and me, have sat through many end-of-school-year skate parties together. We’ve shared in the enjoyment of your class picnics, field days, school plays, holiday and birthday parties, playdates, and sleepovers, all of which made getting to know everyone a more memorable experience. We’ve packed your suitcases for your first overnight trips to Camp Hanes, Camp Don Lee, and Washington, DC. And I had the good fortune to coach, and coach against, many of you in youth recreation leagues as well.

We know each other, although not always in the conventional sense of knowing individual names and such. For example, you refer to me as simply Tilley’s Dad, and I’m more than okay with that. It’s a moniker attached to my history that I’m very proud of.

Yes, it’s been a long road, but a short trip. I’ve watched you grow from young homesick children not wanting to let go of their parent’s hands in the first year of elementary school, to walking in front of us and not wanting to acknowledge our goodbyes because you felt too big for that now. Middle school introduced you and us to a more independent lifestyle, where parents were no longer involved as much. It was a chance for you to grow further, and a transition opportunity for us to adjust, albeit reluctantly.

Finally, there was high school. Here’s where I saw the biggest transformation in many of you. Your appearance was changing, some had growth spurts, others experimented with different clothing styles and hair styles, yet all were growing up. I could hear it in your voices, see it in your actions, and witness the accomplishments you were enjoying together. Much like those early days of elementary school when you were part of Doub’s Dolphins and Hauser’s Hot Shots, among others, now you are truly a unified group again—after all, You Are the Class of 2017!

And now, the Class of 2017 must say goodbye to these familiar faces you’ve grown up with and gotten to know so fondly over the years. It’s time to start the next phase of your life now. In that regard, I have some advice for those of you who feel apprehensive, uneasy or uncertain about what lies ahead, and for those few who may think they have lost their opportunity for success, because they didn’t prepare early enough. What your young minds don’t know or understand is it’s NEVER too late to decide or plan the next part of your life. That’s because as much as you’d like it to be based on what you’re accustomed to, life is not linear, moving from point A to point B in a straight line. It’s more like a hiking trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It offers many paths to get to where you want to be. Not everyone takes the same path. If you feel like your path is different, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just your thing. One of the most common mistakes young people make is they become too anxious to grow up. Patience is the key to appreciating life in the moment, and in the words of my astute late grandmother, “Life always has a way of working itself out.

Here’s to the Class of 2017 and their families! May we all celebrate, rejoice in this accomplishment and look forward to the years ahead with confidence and pride in what our children have become now and will become in the future.

Cheers, and may your glass always be half-full!