‘These Kids Today,” thoughts shared by retiring Tallmadge High School Principal Becky DeCapua to the Class of 2014

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I once again would like to welcome parents, family, friends, educators and Board of Education members to this, our commencement ceremony honoring the accomplishments of the Tallmadge High School graduating class of 2014.
And, let us also acknowledge those loved ones who may not physically be with us, but who are with us in spirit and in our hearts.
I also want to congratulate Mrs. Kappy Sarver and Mrs. Nancy Jones who will be joining me in retirement. We “women of a certain age” have a combined total of 83 years in education. So seniors, if you thought 13 years was a long time to wait, imagine just how excited we are that this day has finally arrived.
Let me begin with thank you’s ...
Parents: My thanks to each of you for all that you have done for your children and for all that you have done throughout the years for the Tallmadge City Schools. I know graduation is a time when you do a lot of reflection ... you remember your son or daughter as the tiny preschooler, who then moved on to their first day of kindergarten and then, suddenly, flash-forward, it’s 13 years later and here they are, young adults about to walk across this stage. Whether this is your first child to graduate, your middle or your last, each and every time we celebrate graduation, it is a milestone moment and as Tallmadge educators, we are honored to have been a part of this journey with you. Thank you for sending us such great kids.
To the Class of 2014: The senior year is always from day one about beginnings and endings.  
The first senior class meeting, your  last “Gatsby-inspired” prom, taking your ACT to getting your college acceptance letter,  your first devil dive, to your last senior “Rah,” the joy of finishing your last high school exam, to the bittersweet moment when you open your locker for the last time, take your last walk down the hall to the sound of “Gone, Gone, Gone,” and move into the Rotunda where you hug your friends goodbye and make your final exit as a Tallmadge High School student.
Educators know that students remember best what they are taught at the very beginning of a lesson and at the very end of class. And so, as my last graduating class, I want you to know that I will remember you BEST.
And because you are so special, saying goodbye is a little more difficult than usual and this ending the MOST memorable. Thank you for an absolutely unforgettable, perfect school year.
When I knew I had to deliver one last speech, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to put my focus. I started to reflect upon my many years as a teacher and administrator, and what repeatedly came to mind is that over the years when someone would ask me what I did for a living, and I would answer “I’m a high school principal,” the reaction far too often was the same … there would be a look of sadness, sympathy — even pity. Rarely did anyone ever say, “Wow, that must be wonderful a job,” or  “I wish I had a job like that.”  
They always looked at me as though they should pat me on the head, hug me and offer their condolences. And then, almost always, I would hear them say, “How do you put up with these kids today?”  
“These kids today” … it’s a phrase I’ve heard over and over and throughout the years, I have often seen letters to the editor or heard talk radio referencing “These kids today” followed by derogatory adjectives like lazy, clueless, materialistic, disrespectful and entitled.  I imagined that they saw all kids as faceless cardboard cut-outs without personality or purpose.
So, with one last opportunity to speak, I came to the conclusion that what I really have to address is exactly that. So, let me tell you what I know about these kids today:
These kids today DO give without expecting anything in return. Year after year they provide Christmas for families in need, families whose children would not have presents to unwrap on Christmas Day if not for them. They raise money and awareness through Relay For Life for the ongoing fight against cancer. They annually donate blood during the Red Cross Blood Drive to save the equivalent of 600 lives a year. They make and deliver “Shoeboxes from the Heart” to the homeless. They set up and serve at Haven of Rest, and they painted fences, cleaned fields and polished headstones at the old Tallmadge Cemetery  during  Community Give Back Day, and annually, they  honor our veterans who protect our homeland and serve abroad. “These kids today” are selfless and caring.
These kids today travel with their churches to rebuild devastated communities both here and abroad, they work to improve and enhance the lives of others, they are generous, spiritual and humble.
These kids today have part time jobs to help their families make ends meet. They help care for their younger brothers and sisters, they are reliable and responsible.
These kids today are believers. Even though I advised the girls not to wear high heels to cross the stage tonight, at least a dozen young ladies will attempt to cross from here to there in heels 4 inches or higher. And, if that isn’t optimism, I don’t know what is. I am certain they will make it and I admire their decision to never pass up an opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes. They are confident, optimistic, well-balanced and ready to tackle any challenge!
These kids today mentor incoming freshmen from their first day of high school and year after year they tutor Dunbar and Munroe students to improve their reading and writing skills. They annually speak to Tallmadge Middle School students about respect and good decision-making. They are role models who create traditions that make us proud.
These kids today dream of traveling to exciting new places, learning about other people and cultures different from their own. They are curious, adventurous and inquisitive.
These kids today are artists and musicians, writers and athletes. They paint, they sing, they perform, they run, they compose, they throw, they catch, they shoot, they act, and yes, it’s true, they even twerk! They are talented and creative and original.
These kids today can be counted on by their friends to see them through the toughest times, to bring laughter and encouragement when it’s needed most. They are kind, compassionate and trustworthy.
These kids today will go on to college to study medicine, engineering, marketing, computer science, teaching, political science, business, accounting, theater, journalism and Christian Ministry.
They  will enter the military and will live the concepts of Honor, Duty, Country, Valor, Fidelity, Courage and Commitment. They are focused and motivated, they are brave and loyal.
These kids today are the future and our future will be fine.
So, the next time you come across someone who thinks they know about “these kids today,” share these truths with them. Or send them my way, (since I am soon going to have some time on my hands), and we can “chat” about what I know about these kids today.
Graduates — Class of 2014 — as you cross the stage, be proud of what you have accomplished. And as you stand at the bottom of the stairs, take a moment to think about all of the people who helped you accomplish this goal.
I want you to imagine that their names appear around the border of your diploma — mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, friends, a coach, pastor, mentor, teacher, counselor, a neighbor, a Mr. Householder ... Carry them with you as you cross the stage and remember that they are with you always through each ending and new beginning.
I have been so in awe of all that you are — all that you do — there have been so many times when you simply amazed me.
It has been my honor and privilege to be your principal.
Now ... let’s get you across this stage so that you can show the world what ... “these kids today” … have to offer.   
Congratulations, good luck and thank you.    

Rebecca DeCapua
Principal
May 22, 2014

I once again would like to welcome parents, family, friends, educators and Board of Education members to this, our commencement ceremony honoring the accomplishments of the Tallmadge High School graduating class of 2014.
And, let us also acknowledge those loved ones who may not physically be with us, but who are with us in spirit and in our hearts.
I also want to congratulate Mrs. Kappy Sarver and Mrs. Nancy Jones who will be joining me in retirement. We “women of a certain age” have a combined total of 83 years in education. So seniors, if you thought 13 years was a long time to wait, imagine just how excited we are that this day has finally arrived.
Let me begin with thank you’s ...
Parents: My thanks to each of you for all that you have done for your children and for all that you have done throughout the years for the Tallmadge City Schools. I know graduation is a time when you do a lot of reflection ... you remember your son or daughter as the tiny preschooler, who then moved on to their first day of kindergarten and then, suddenly, flash-forward, it’s 13 years later and here they are, young adults about to walk across this stage. Whether this is your first child to graduate, your middle or your last, each and every time we celebrate graduation, it is a milestone moment and as Tallmadge educators, we are honored to have been a part of this journey with you. Thank you for sending us such great kids.
To the Class of 2014: The senior year is always from day one about beginnings and endings.  
The first senior class meeting, your  last “Gatsby-inspired” prom, taking your ACT to getting your college acceptance letter,  your first devil dive, to your last senior “Rah,” the joy of finishing your last high school exam, to the bittersweet moment when you open your locker for the last time, take your last walk down the hall to the sound of “Gone, Gone, Gone,” and move into the Rotunda where you hug your friends goodbye and make your final exit as a Tallmadge High School student.
Educators know that students remember best what they are taught at the very beginning of a lesson and at the very end of class. And so, as my last graduating class, I want you to know that I will remember you BEST.
And because you are so special, saying goodbye is a little more difficult than usual and this ending the MOST memorable. Thank you for an absolutely unforgettable, perfect school year.
When I knew I had to deliver one last speech, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to put my focus. I started to reflect upon my many years as a teacher and administrator, and what repeatedly came to mind is that over the years when someone would ask me what I did for a living, and I would answer “I’m a high school principal,” the reaction far too often was the same … there would be a look of sadness, sympathy — even pity. Rarely did anyone ever say, “Wow, that must be wonderful a job,” or  “I wish I had a job like that.”  
They always looked at me as though they should pat me on the head, hug me and offer their condolences. And then, almost always, I would hear them say, “How do you put up with these kids today?”  
“These kids today” … it’s a phrase I’ve heard over and over and throughout the years, I have often seen letters to the editor or heard talk radio referencing “These kids today” followed by derogatory adjectives like lazy, clueless, materialistic, disrespectful and entitled.  I imagined that they saw all kids as faceless cardboard cut-outs without personality or purpose.
So, with one last opportunity to speak, I came to the conclusion that what I really have to address is exactly that. So, let me tell you what I know about these kids today:
These kids today DO give without expecting anything in return. Year after year they provide Christmas for families in need, families whose children would not have presents to unwrap on Christmas Day if not for them. They raise money and awareness through Relay For Life for the ongoing fight against cancer. They annually donate blood during the Red Cross Blood Drive to save the equivalent of 600 lives a year. They make and deliver “Shoeboxes from the Heart” to the homeless. They set up and serve at Haven of Rest, and they painted fences, cleaned fields and polished headstones at the old Tallmadge Cemetery  during  Community Give Back Day, and annually, they  honor our veterans who protect our homeland and serve abroad. “These kids today” are selfless and caring.
These kids today travel with their churches to rebuild devastated communities both here and abroad, they work to improve and enhance the lives of others, they are generous, spiritual and humble.
These kids today have part time jobs to help their families make ends meet. They help care for their younger brothers and sisters, they are reliable and responsible.
These kids today are believers. Even though I advised the girls not to wear high heels to cross the stage tonight, at least a dozen young ladies will attempt to cross from here to there in heels 4 inches or higher. And, if that isn’t optimism, I don’t know what is. I am certain they will make it and I admire their decision to never pass up an opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes. They are confident, optimistic, well-balanced and ready to tackle any challenge!
These kids today mentor incoming freshmen from their first day of high school and year after year they tutor Dunbar and Munroe students to improve their reading and writing skills. They annually speak to Tallmadge Middle School students about respect and good decision-making. They are role models who create traditions that make us proud.
These kids today dream of traveling to exciting new places, learning about other people and cultures different from their own. They are curious, adventurous and inquisitive.
These kids today are artists and musicians, writers and athletes. They paint, they sing, they perform, they run, they compose, they throw, they catch, they shoot, they act, and yes, it’s true, they even twerk! They are talented and creative and original.
These kids today can be counted on by their friends to see them through the toughest times, to bring laughter and encouragement when it’s needed most. They are kind, compassionate and trustworthy.
These kids today will go on to college to study medicine, engineering, marketing, computer science, teaching, political science, business, accounting, theater, journalism and Christian Ministry.
They  will enter the military and will live the concepts of Honor, Duty, Country, Valor, Fidelity, Courage and Commitment. They are focused and motivated, they are brave and loyal.
These kids today are the future and our future will be fine.
So, the next time you come across someone who thinks they know about “these kids today,” share these truths with them. Or send them my way, (since I am soon going to have some time on my hands), and we can “chat” about what I know about these kids today.
Graduates — Class of 2014 — as you cross the stage, be proud of what you have accomplished. And as you stand at the bottom of the stairs, take a moment to think about all of the people who helped you accomplish this goal.
I want you to imagine that their names appear around the border of your diploma — mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, friends, a coach, pastor, mentor, teacher, counselor, a neighbor, a Mr. Householder ... Carry them with you as you cross the stage and remember that they are with you always through each ending and new beginning.
I have been so in awe of all that you are — all that you do — there have been so many times when you simply amazed me.
It has been my honor and privilege to be your principal.
Now ... let’s get you across this stage so that you can show the world what ... “these kids today” … have to offer.   
Congratulations, good luck and thank you.    

Rebecca DeCapua
Principal
May 22, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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