It came to my attention over the past few days that the graduation
speeches of the many education leaders lacked a most important item.
Not once did I hear an admonition to the graduating seniors (and all
their compatriots) regarding their behavior in the next couple of
weeks: what they do behind the wheel.

Every year without fail we hear of the most tragic accidents involving
high school graduates ending their, and, usually, their friends lives
in auto collisions – and usually at high speed. Quite often they also
involve drinking, as if they are now invincible because they hold that
all-important document in their hands. Over the years I have thought
that education should also entail responsibility and accountability.
If for no other reason, a respect of others whose lives they sometimes
hold in their own hands. Getting behind a powerful engine, thinking
themselves NASCAR heros, and irresponsibly driving themselves and
their friends into eternity, is so tragic. After all the study and
preparation for their futures, to have them wiped out so brutally in
seconds, is not the height of what education is supposed to mean to
them. Don’t they know that we are not ready for them to leave us so
soon?

For all the families that have watched these young people
study, get involved in sports, career guidance, college preparation or
just get a diploma, it is so devastating to see it all go up in smoke.
My advice to the superintendents, principals, teachers – AND parents,
is to hammer this into their heads with their last chance to interact
with them: no driving until the euphoria has faded a bit from their
minds: to realize the significance of their irrational driving so they
can live at least long enough for those who have spent so much of
their time, talents and energy to bring these young adults to this
important stage of their lives, to give them reason to believe that
their teaching and leadership has not been done in vain. And to cause
the graduates to be thankful for what they have been given and live to
tell about it.

Congratulations to all the seniors; Godspeed to all.