Edison Class of 2009 urged to 'do your own thing'

MILAN Put your right hand in. Put your right hand out. Put your right hand in. And grab a diploma.
May 24, 2010



Put your right hand in. Put your right hand out. Put your right hand in. And grab a diploma.

Although Dr. Seuss' book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" was one the themes of Edison High School's graduation Sunday afternoon, class speaker Heath Barron found his inspiration in the Hokey Pokey.

Barron said for most of their lives, he and his 120 classmates have received mixed messages: Don't judge a book by its cover. But if it looks like a dog and smells like a dog, isn't it a dog?

Or: Two heads are better than one. So why, if you want something done right, do you have to do it yourself?

But the Hokey Pokey doesn't have mixed messages, Barron said.

"How do you do the Hokey Pokey?" Barron asked his classmates. "It's the only part of the song with no directions -- the only part that isn't defined. The participants are able to move in a way that is fun and feels right to them, to just do their thing."

"That is my advice to you, Class of 2009," he said, "just do your own thing."


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Sarah Dunnavant, another of the four speakers, told her classmates they can quell that fear by remembering life isn't about materialistic accomplishments.

She said as long as they try to help other people and live a life of selflessness rather than selfishness, they'll be fine.

"I am sometimes afflicted with 'graduation anxiety,'" Dunnavant said. "Once we receive our diplomas, we enter the world of, 'Gotta do more, gotta be more.'"

"Once I recall, though, that I don't have to live the life of blank ambition, I can snap out of graduation anxiety," she added.

All the graduating seniors acknowledged this was only the first chapter of their lives, the beginning of long narratives that will undoubtedly take countless twists and turns.

Beth Stallkamp urged her classmates to never quit striving toward higher goals, even though some of those twists will make them question whether it's worth it.

"Today is a tremendous accomplishment," said Stallkamp, another class speaker. "But we must realize there is plenty more ahead of us."

She acknowledged everyone will face trials, and doubts will creep into their minds about how much they can succeed. But perseverance and hard work will help them overcome those stumbles and allow them to reach goals.

To end her speech, Stallkamp quoted Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor who died last summer at 48 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Pausch gave a 2007 speech titled, "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," which became an overnight Internet sensation.

"The brick walls are there for a reason," Stallkamp said, echoing Pausch. "The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

"So you see, your success is up to you," she added. "If you want it bad enough then you will achieve it. Take the chances and do what you dream to do. After all, you only have this life to live."