One of the great honors and responsibilities I have as Superintendent of Schools is the opportunity to speak to our graduating classes at our commencement ceremonies. This year as I attempt to impart whatever morsels of wisdom that 44-year olds can share with confident 18-year olds, I will share a little about a friend of mine from way back when, Steve Haxton.
When I was growing up I had a mentor by the name of Steve Haxton. Steve is likely about 15 years older than I am and growing up he was larger than life. Steve invested his time in my life when he didn’t have to. Steve, my dad and I once won a three on three basketball tournament. That meant I would pass the ball down to Steve on the post, he would bully his way inside and score 80% of our points. Once in awhile, he would kick the ball out to my dad who had a decent set shot. I was just there to be a decoy. But, we were champions baby!
Steve would often remind me that to those whom much has been given, much is expected. When I was a kid we used to write important information on 3×5 note cards. There was no notes function on a smartphone back in 1989. I remember the day that Steve wrote on one of those cards and gave it to me to carry with me. To those whom much has been given, much is expected. I still have that note card and will be able to pull it out of my pocket when speaking today at graduation. Steve was right, to me much had been given. From my family, from the Worthington community, from him. I had no excuses in life and a ridiculous amount to be thankful for. And, in a softer way, that is what I will attempt to impart to our graduates. If we’re in Worthington, Ohio, no matter what our situation, we have much to be thankful for and this community has given each graduate a great deal. Now they too have a responsibility to use what they have been given.
“As graduates of Worthington, you have been given much. You have been provided a safe place to live, food for your belly. You have been provided a first class education and you have been provided co-curricular opportunities that have taught you the critical skills of collaboration, perseverance, and grit. Graduates if you take a few minutes this evening to reflect on your journey and if you actually write down and list out those things that you are thankful for you’ll see that indeed for you much has been given.
And, for those to whom much has been given, much is expected. We expect you to capitalize on your opportunities. We expect you to treat those you come in contact with with empathy and respect. We expect that you’ll use your talents to make Worthington, Ohio, our country and even our world a better place. The mission of Worthington Schools is to empower a community of learners who will change the world. We expect you to do exactly that.”
I’m 44 years old and Steve Haxton took me to lunch a few weeks ago. He’s still investing in my life and I still know that much is expected.