Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The JPII I'm Proud Of

Student assembly address:

I went to the Fr. Ryan soccer game last Saturday night—the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. We had about 50 students there to cheer on the girls, and they did so with great enthusiasm. Boosted by their support, our girls played very competitively and were briefly ahead, always within one goal, until mid-way through the second half when Fr. Ryan pulled away. Even when it became apparent that we were going to lose, our students stayed and continued to cheer. When the game was over, our students shouted out “We are proud of you” and stayed to high five the girls as they came off the field.

On my ride home that night, I thought about those students, loyal to the end, who cheered with great gusto for their school’s soccer team, not because we were winning but because they were their friends and classmates, and that’s what we do here at JPII.  That’s the JPII I’m proud of.

And then I began to think of other things. I thought of a young man who graduated from last year’s class, for whom school was difficult. He came to countless tutorials and was met with generous, patient teachers who helped him get through a college preparatory school. And as he walked across the stage last May at the Grand Ole’ Opry to receive his diploma from the bishop and pose for a picture with me, I whispered to him “We are SO proud of you,” and he whispered back, saying, “Thank for all that JPII has done for me.” That’s the JPII I’m proud of.

I’m thinking of a family whose children are true scholars, National Merit finalists all, but carry themselves with great humility and concern for others. That’s the JPII I am proud of.

I’m thinking of a young man who graduated a few years back who lived without his father, and struggled early on as a student here. He graduated from JPII, signed a scholarship to play football, and will be graduating this spring with the intention of going to graduate school. During his senior recognition ceremony, he's asked a member of our coaching staff to escort his mother onto the field, so grateful is he to JPII and to this coach. That young man, and that coach, and the teachers who helped him, are the JPII I am proud of.

I am thinking of students who are curious, smart, playful, competitive, ambitious, committed to serving others, and committed to their faith. That’s the JPII I am proud of.

I hope you’re proud, too.

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