School Board President Mike Dechene hands graduating senior Elizabeth Boylan, of Piercefield, her diploma during the June 23 commencement ceremony in the Tupper Lake Middle/High School gymnasium.
Jim LaValley hoped Tupper Lake High School graduates heard more than “blah, blah, blah” during his commencement speech Saturday, June 23 in the high school gymnasium.
LaValley — the owner of LaValley Real Estate, chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy) and longtime TV personality during the annual High Peaks Hospice Day — shared his list of 10 “Blah, Blah, Blah Points” with the 64 graduating seniors. They’re really nuggets of wisdom.
•1) Live life: “You have a vast region of enormous potential located somewhere between your ears ... As adults, we want to help you avoid the mistakes we made. That’s not right. You need to make mistakes.”
•2) Judging others: “Be careful how you judge others ... It shouldn’t matter if a person is fat or skinny, white or black, straight or gay, athletic or geek. We’re a part of one race, and it’s called the human race. It’s up to your generation to see that tolerance becomes contagious.”
•3) Making mistakes: “If you make a mistake or somehow screwed up, it doesn’t have to define you. What you did yesterday does not have to define you today. But it’s up to you, and no one else, to define today.”
•4) Listen: “Listen more than you talk. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn when you listen.”
•5) Have fun: “Don’t be afraid to be goofy and entertain yourself. Don’t count on others to make your fun. And spend some time by yourself.”
•6) Success from failure: “Let me run a few names by you: Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Michael Jordan, Elvis ... They’re all people who failed miserably before they became incredibly successful. They knew failure is not an ending; it’s a beginning ... Listen to your mistakes.”
•7) Giving back: “Give something back and do it with compassion, not always looking for a return.”
•8) Hometown: “Tupper Lake will always be your hometown. Now some of you are screaming to leave, and you don’t want to look back. But one day you’re going to realize that Tupper Lake really is the center of the universe. Now like it or not, it’s helped shape you. You’ll realize that this community is an incredible place that pulls together when it needs to, that the people care about you, that you are always welcome to come back to your hometown.”
•9) Faith: “Life throws a lot of crap at us ... There is a higher energy out there ... When you face difficult times, instead of crying, ‘Why me,’ try saying, ‘Show me.’”
•10) Face challenges: During a High Peaks Hospice day at L.P. Quinn Elementary School, LaValley asked one girl, “Where’s the strangest place you ever found a coin? She replied, ‘In my throat.’ Well, it begged the next question, ‘How did you get it out?’”
There was a little second-grade boy sitting there.
“Without hesitation, he said, ‘She pooped it.’ So, what did I take away from that exchange? A young person’s view of a complicated matter can be quite simple ... That little second-grade boy knew what needed to be said and knew that’s what everyone else was probably thinking. The difference was, he said it. It wasn’t offensive; it was honest ... When confronted with a challenge, don’t turn away from it. Face it head-on, even when it might be a little uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to step in the middle of it.”
The valedictorian for the Class of 2012 is Kelsie St. Louis, the daughter of Kevin and Becky St. Louis. She plans to attend Clarkson University, working toward a doctorate in physical therapy.
“Robert Frost once said that, ‘Education is hanging around until you've caught on.’ Well guys, I think we finally caught on,” St. Louis said in her commencement speech. “And I say finally because some of us never thought that we would be able to walk across this floor today, until approaching our senior year. For myself, I think I've caught on long enough to say that I am ready to leave.”
St. Louis thanked her teachers and her parents and spoke of the many memories she shared with classmates and growing up in the digital age.
“We are remembered as the age of Facebook, iPhones, and other ridiculous electronics that we have come to depend on,” St. Louis said. “I am sure that every graduating senior in the past three years has told me that the worst thing about college is owning a laptop or computer. When you should be doing your homework, preparing for that big test, or paying attention in class, you are distracted for hours by the never-ending drama provided by the one and only: Facebook. But how can we help it? Everyone needs a healthy dosage of Facebook drama.”