The theme for this year’s 8th grade Farewell Celebration for the BCS Class of 2018 (high school class of 2022) is “The Best Streaks of our Lives.” Let’s look forward, into the future, with this theme in mind. How might each of you make each phase of your life “The Best?” What does it take to live a long successfully happy life? How might you answer this question? Many of the first things that initially come to mind revolve around taking care of your mental and physical health. Exercise often. Eat healthy. Keep a positive attitude. These are all easier said than done to be sure. Or, how about read and learn daily keeping the mind sharp. All important indeed! But, what if I shared with you research that suggests that the top 2 secrets to a long life have nothing to do with these seemingly obvious beneficial activities. Researcher Susan Pinker shares that “The Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians [100+ year olds] as the mainland and ten times as many as North America.” It is also the only place on earth she can find where men live as long as women. But, Why? What’s the secret? According to Pinker, “it’s not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the islanders alive so long. It is their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions” that make the difference. If fact, a positive attitude is not even on the list of top 10 from Pinker’s research (of course it can’t hurt). Things involving physical health are on the list, but the two activities that top the list are Close Relationships (no. 2) and Social Integration/Social Connectedness (no. 1). From her research, Pinker has determined that “social isolation is the public health risk of our time.” On Sardinia, people “are never left to live solitary lives.” Members of their community are always dropping by to interact with each other making social isolation impossible and improving their close relationships and social integration. So, why do I bring this up to you 8th graders tonight? Because I have serious hopes for each of you! Five to be exact.
My hope is that your years at BCS (whether it was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or all 6) gave you the opportunity for some close friendships and social integration. People who know me, know how important collaboration is to me, and now look what research here points to as it relates to social connectedness.
My hope for you in high school is broadening your friendships and social integration discovering even more deeply who you are and who you want to become.
My hope for you beyond high school, in college, is creating lasting close relationship and socially integrating with an array of interesting people both similar to and very different from yourself.
My hope for you in adulthood is you realize the importance of positive relationships and social connectedness that will feed your success by any measure and lead to a long and successful life. 8th graders, class of 2022, through your close relationships and social integration may you become a centenarian, like the islanders on Sardinia, who looks back on each phase of your life as “the best streaks of your life”, indeed the best life, because you have people with whom to spend it.
Let me close by sharing my final hope. I indeed look forward to seeing you in four years at the BCS Senior Alumni breakfast and hearing all about your next BESTs. Congratulations on your recognition tonight – you should be proud; I know I am! My final hope? I hope your time at BCS was the best so far.
Congratulations on your special day and I wish you THE BEST! [certificates distributed]
[to close the evening I share the following]
I have mentioned the word “success” several times tonight, so let me close the evening leaving you with a quote on success that I feel perfectly embodies its meaning. It is a quote by American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson and is my ultimate hope for each of you in ensuring each phase of your life can be considered, in line with this year’s theme “the best.” I wish for you…
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Congratulations BCS Class of 2018; You are the Best!