On May 18 District 90 celebrated our eighth grade graduation ceremonies for Carriel and Fulton Junior High Schools. I was honored to provide a few closing remarks that night. I shared a quote from author Fred Devito who said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” His quote reminds us that challenges can help us become the best versions of ourselves.
I encouraged our junior high graduates to consider this quote when looking forward to their high school years. There will be challenges. From the first day, as they make their way around a new school campus, to the new friends they will make as they find ways to fit in, to the final exams for which they will study. These challenges, and even the times they feel they may have failed, will help them grow if they focus on growing and learning from each challenge.
Devito’s quote is a good reminder to us all. Challenges help us grow if we are able to reflect upon the situation and use it as rung in our ladder to success. As long as we remember to celebrate success along the path, we can always find ways to turn our challenges into opportunities. Made popular by author Carol Dweck, this type of growth mindset teaches us that every mistake we make is progress. Growth mindset allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
As I drove home from two wonderful eighth grade graduation ceremonies that night, I thought about Devito’s quote and how it applies to the challenges District 90 faced in the past. The District grew from some tough financial times, and has since exceeded expectations. Our curricular and extracurricular programs continue to have outstanding reputations, but we have also tightened our belts financially and begun to rebuild fiscal health.
Not a day goes by that I don’t feel overwhelming gratitude to be here, in this community, with this District. There will always be challenges. How we approach them and what we do after we face them is our choice. The only person we should try to be better than is yesterday’s version of ourselves.
We congratulate our graduates on their many accomplishments, and wish them the very best!