Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Graduation - One Year Ago...

Saturday, June 11, 2011
Congratulations to my nephew Brandon who recently graduated from high school and was sworn into the US Army Reserves.  As the youth of America don caps and gowns all over the country and seniors rake in the graduation gifts of cold hard cash from friends and family, I'm reminded of one year ago, when the family was in Busan, Korea at the Busan Foreign School Graduation Ceremony.

The Principal (and good friend), Mr. Scott Jolly with opening remarks.

CJ and his friend, Tevin, trotting to the stage to accept their leadership awards for the 5th grade.  These guys were pretty tight.

Here's Jake receiving the Student of the Year award for Pre-Kindergarten.  Umm, I think he was a little happy.  Now that's a smile.

Jake is in the middle of the picture high-fiving his teacher, Ms. Amber Newton.  Couldn't have asked for a better teacher.

Carol presented some awards from the PTA to some deserving students.  She also received a plaque of appreciation from the school for her efforts throughout the year.  I was proud to say that I was the husband of the PTA President.

I was very honored to give the commencement speech.  As with most things, Carol gave me some good advice on the content of the speech.  Here's the speech itself:

Mr. and Mrs. Haddon, Principal Jolly, faculty and staff, parents, students, and most importantly, the 2010 graduating class of Busan Foreign School, I am very honored to be speaking to you on this special occasion.

I have to admit that when I was in your seat during my own high school graduation 23 years ago, I really wasn’t paying attention to the guest speaker.  I honestly don’t even remember who the speaker was.  Like many of you, my mind was somewhere else – the future, college, what do I want to do with my life? – those kind of heavy thoughts.

Well, in an effort to stay somewhat current, I’d like to share with you some of the heavy thoughts that are on people’s minds right now.  Please raise your hands if you have a Facebook account.

So here are some of the different status comments from some of my own Facebook friends from the last couple of days.  Maybe you can relate to some of these comments:

So... am I the only one that has absolutely no idea what to do now that we're done with school...?

dude i woke up this morning all happy alone in my house, and now im like, now what?

Only 6 days of school left and then I leave BFS forever...sad

Trying to find a job is the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life! I think getting the degree was the easy part...they don't tell you about the "REAL WORLD"... PRAYERS ARE NEEDED

So some of you might be feeling this same apprehension, excitement and anxiety.  And that’s normal.  The future can be a very daunting thing.

With the future in mind, I’d like to pass on to you one thing that I think is extremely important as you begin your new adventure of college, a new job or even living in a new country.  And that thing is FOCUS.  Focus is one of the key things that will get you to where you want to be.

Being a Navy brat and growing up next to a military jet base, I knew in high school what I wanted to do with my life – I wanted to fly jets for the Navy.  There were many days in high school where I would doze off in class, only to be woken up by the thundering sound of the Navy jets flying overhead.

And so I worked real hard in college and was commissioned as a Naval Officer after graduation from the Virginia Military Institute.  I was also fortunate enough to earn an aviation slot and so off to Navy flight school I went.  Flight school was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.  Unfortunately, a lot of my buddies didn’t make it through flight training.  Some of them were hitting the nightclubs a little too much and not studying nearly enough.  Some were distracted by personal issues, money issues and other things.  Many people simply weren’t cut out for the training – whether it was the grueling physical demands, the academics or putting it all together in the airplane.  A lot of good people didn’t make it through.  And I was almost one of those people.  But if there’s one thing that I can point to that helped me to make it through this challenge – it was my FOCUS.  I always had my eye on the prize and I wasn’t gonna let anything get in the way of reaching my goal.  Instead of hitting the beach, I spent extra hours in the flight simulator.  Instead of watching TV, I was memorizing my emergency procedures and rehearsing my flights.  I was gonna do whatever it took to reach my goal.

I learned about focus early on from various role models, including my boxing coach in college.  When I was boxing, it was only when I was truly focused that I was able to achieve the highest levels in my sport. 

I’d like to share a story with you about focus.  My current boss grew up in Hawaii.  He tells me about a guy he knew in high school in Hawaii by the name of Barry.  Now, Barry loved to play basketball.  And he was pretty good too.  He worked hard at his game and had aspirations to be a professional basketball player.  The thing is, he was a decent player compared to the small crowd in Hawaii, but when he had tougher competition in college, he came to the realization that professional basketball was not in his future.  As much as Barry focused on his game, he knew it wasn’t gonna be a long term thing.

But that focus and determination that Barry had – it was an impressive thing.  You see, with the proper focus, you can do anything you set your mind to.  Nothing will get in your way.  Without focus, well, that’s where you can lose your way.

The reality is many of you will finish up college and go on to be presidents of companies, community leaders, raise families, make lots of money and do great things.  This will happen.  I have no doubt.  And your focus on your goals will be one of the common themes behind your success. 

The thing is, there will be distractions along the way – temptations that sidetrack you away from your goals – partying, girls (I should know, I married one), video games, TV shows, downright laziness and even homesickness – while none of these things are necessarily bad, if you allow them to become major distractions and you lose focus, then they become terrible things.  These are some of the same distractions that are the downfall of many professionals – famous actors with drug problems, professional athletes with domestic abuse issues, politicians with extra-marital affairs or corruption…pick up any newspaper and it’s on the front page - many high profile people losing focus.

With a strong focus on your goals though, nothing will stand in the way of what you want.  Let me get back to the story about Barry.

You see, as hard as Barry worked on basketball, it just wasn’t in his future.  But Barry was a focused person.  And after basketball didn’t work out for him, he used that incredible focus in another part of his life.  He got into politics.  And he did real well at that – and I mean really well.  Now, Barry wasn’t his real name.  That’s what people called him in high school.  But now, most people know him as Barack.  President Barack Obama.

Let me point out one other thing about focus.  You shouldn’t set your focus on small, easy goals.  You don’t need a lot of focus to achieve small things.  Don’t limit yourself.  Set your sights high and go for it.  Earlier, I mentioned my desire to fly.  I didn’t say I wanted to fly just propeller airplanes or helicopters.  I wanted to fly the best.  I wanted to fly jets.  And that’s what I went for and that’s what I got. 

During my boxing days, I didn’t compete for second or third place.  I aspired to be the very best – to be the national boxing champion for the entire country, and that’s what I achieved. 

I challenge each and every one of you to not settle for mediocrity.  Aspire to be the very best and use that focus of yours to get there.  Don’t settle for just “good enough.”  Go for it.  Knock the bottom out of everything that you do. 

That average stuff – that’s for the other schools.  That’s for the ISB graduates.  You come from the Busan Foreign School.  This is the place where students score perfect on the SAT.  This is the place where the students get accepted to the most elite colleges and universities in the world.  This is where the teachers challenge their students to do their very best.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to have my boys going to the Busan Foreign School.  As a Navy family, we move around a lot and have experience with many different schools.  Busan Foreign School is by far, the very best.

And so, Graduates of the class of 2010 – I’ll close by saying that you should be beaming with pride over this great school that’s now a part of your history.  Like Barry did, I challenge you to represent your school well.  Congratulations to each and every one of you on achieving this major milestone of graduation.  I wish you tremendous success in your personal and professional lives.  Stay focused and do great things.  Thank you so much for your time today.

All in all, it was a very memorable day for the family.  The graduation ceremony capped off an outstanding school year.  We really can't say enough great things about Busan Foreign School.  For those new graduates and their families - congratulations to you all.  Enjoy this special occasion.  For the BFS faculty, students and family that are moving on to new adventures, to include the Jolly's, Allen's and other friends we've had the pleasure of spending time with, we wish you the very best on the future.  You've got friends in the Cruz's.


imts edu

very nice blog official i like it thanks for post.its very effective.
graduation in one year

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