On June 19, 2015, the first eighth grade class I ever taught graduated from high school. My honeymoon precluded my attending their graduation, so I wrote each of my former students a letter.
This is the first in a series of letters I wrote to my first students on their graduation day:
Well, at the very least, we can both say that in eighth grade you learned the merits of proofreading your work.
You were always a good student and a respectful, young man. I know most of the trouble you got in, in my class at least, was partially attributed to ____ or ____ or ____ or ____. What struck me about you was your maturity at your age, your calm and gentle demeanor, and your drive (although it sometimes waned when writing longer essays).
Offering you some cliché, prosaic advice about staying out of trouble is not necessarily my style. I think you know all of the temptations and their corresponding pitfalls that await you in college. All I will say is, remember why you’re there first and foremost. Then, once you get the grades, whatever you choose to do in your own free time is gravy (just don’t get arrested).
Also, I realize I do not have to tell you about how important your family is and I know you’re at the age where you’re probably too cool for them, yet once you get to college you’re going to realize exactly how significant they are.
I know you’ll take care of business in this next phase of life. In the process, though, do not lose sight of where you came from and who you are. Keep up your relationships with your professors and, above all else, proofread anything you put your name on.
Only the best for you and your family,