This is the season of transitions, graduations and moving onward to the next plateau for many of the young people within our community. Our core institutions, such as the schools, both public and private, and other large youth-serving organizations from Scouting to sports, all mark and honor the passing of time and accomplishments with certificates, awards, ribbons and of course the venerated diploma. Officials make speeches, hands are shaken, photos snapped and the traditions of time and culture continue.
Each of these observances is celebrated exactly as they should be. Still, this time of year reminds me also of the legions of people behind the scenes who seldom come to mind on the “big day,” but who otherwise were influential and sometimes pivotal in the lives of our children as they rolled through the grades, leagues and divisions in their respective march of accomplishments.
So here’s to the cafeteria worker who made it a point to say hello, to make that connection, with that one special student day after day, who knew that sustenance required good food and so much more; and bravo to the nurse, who dished out Band-Aids and love, who checked in and listened to Suzie on the day that the little girl’s hamster died. And to the coaches, every one of them, from T-Ball to Tennis who kept nudging and inspiring their athletes to try again, believing that they too had a shot at the title, and, when necessary taught them the lessons of last place.
Still, when the lesson is done and the game over, perhaps the greatest gift that any adult can give a child or teen, that supersedes all else, is the power and example of their own personality, grace and spirit. And that’s where community comes in and the true meaningfulness of our children’s lives comes full circle. Good work, Dartmouth! Good work, indeed.