HHS grads encouraged to "Breathe With A Purpose"
The senior speeches at the recent graduation ceremony for Holton High School’s Class of 2019 last Saturday might have been the best ones I have ever heard.
The speeches carried out a central theme focusing on the 2019 class motto – “Breathe With A Purpose’’ selected in honor of deceased class vice president Madison Taliaferro, who died in December 2018 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.
It may very well become the HHS Class of 2019’s motto for the rest of their post-high school lives, too, and if so I can’t think of a better one to live by.
Although Madison only attended high school in Holton for two years, she obviously made a big and lasting impact on her classmates and she was remembered fondly – and often – at the graduation.
The death of a schoolmate is always a tragic loss as those left behind ponder what the deceased schoolmate’s life could have been like in the future. To have the bright light of a young person’s life extinquished is among the most tragic losses known to human beings.
Death is not just difficult for young people to deal with, however. Adults of all ages struggle with sadness and heartbreak when their loved ones die.
In the years to come, members of the HHS Class of 2019 will need to look no further than the memory of their friend Madison for examples of perserverance in the face of adversity and the mostly underestmated simple passion for breathing with a purpose.
HHS principal Rod Wittmer announced at the beginning of the graduation that Madison had met the requirements for high school graduation at HHS. Wittmer then asked everyone in the audience for a moment of silence in remembrance of Madison.
HHS senior class member Grant Cawby, said, “Earlier this year, our entire community went through a bad time when we lost our classmate and friend Madison... To honor her memory, our class motto – Breathe With A Purpose comes from her and while our class will have many purposes moving forward in life, one of them will be to look back and reflect on where we have been… Reflecting and remembering aren’t the only purposes we have, however. It is also important to live in the present.’’
“…God gave each of us a purpose in life. We’re here so that we all might breathe with a purpose, right here and right now. Make this moment count, make the present count,’’ said senior class member John Walker Sheldon.
Senior class member and Student Council president Sydney Strader said that setting goals is another way the class of 2019 is breathing with a purpose.
“…We were lucky enough to experience one of the most passionate people in our last two years at Holton High,’’ Strader said. “Madison taught us to live our passion out daily. She joined several clubs, sang in our musical, managed our football team and participated tirelessly to express her passion for all HHS had to offer…’’
“…Our class is breathing with a purpose, a purpose to crush the future,’’ said senior class member Kortnee Nicole VanDonge. “Sixty-eight students are about to walk this stage. By doing this, they will have taken their final steps as children and have graduated into adulthood, ready to taken on the world… Class of 2019, it’s time to breathe with a purpose and crush the future!’’
If the HHS Class of 2019 grads “breathe with a purpose’’ there’s no question they can make a big, positive impact in the world in the years to come.
With a class motto like that, there’s definitely a lot of room for a lot of different interpretations of what that means to each of the grads.
Here’s a few more words to live by for the recent grads and for all of us:
*Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.
*Learn the wisdom of compromise because it’s better to bend than to break.
*Choose to believe the best in people instead of the worst.
*Remember that friendship is the basis for all lasting relationships.
*Embrace the work you choose as a vocation to do good things.
*Be on time. Tardiness gives the impression that you have no respect or consideration for others.
*Pay your debts. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, or the house your live in or the car you drive. If you don’t pay your debts in a timely manner, you will never enjoy the trust and respect of others.