I want to thank all those students who spoke at Masses this weekend on behalf of the Guardian Angel project. It’s a generous act to dress in your school uniform, sit with your principal or school leader, stand in front of everyone and represent your school, so thank you!
Much more important than what I said or the adult said, was your willingness to stand in front of the Church and speak of your pride in the school. That’s what people were looking at. It’s what they’ll remember about this weekend.
In fact, many people judge St. Michael on the basis of a single experience they have of you. That’s usually a good thing—you represent yourselves well. Because we’re a new school we spend a lot of time and money on advertising—news articles, ads, videos, bill boards, printing costs—but their experience of you matters much more. Our success so far as a school, the reason we’re growing so quickly, is that you represented us so well last year. You are the most important ambassadors of the school.
You have a lot of power, you really do! Remember that. You have the power to do tremendous good for this institution, but you also have the power to do tremendous harm. I am proud of you because I get to see the whole panoramic view of who you are, how you relate to each other, how you handle yourselves around your teachers. But people that don’t know the school, if they have a bad experience of you, they are quick to judge the school on the basic of a single snapshot. Using an analogy, we may know the “yearbook’s” worth of pictures that tells the broad tale, but they may only have a single picture. Yet they’ll judge us quickly on the basis of that narrow portal.
We sink or swim together. Remember that tonight as we cheer for our football team, or our volleyball team this weekend, or cross country team. Be loud, be crazy, be proud—but don’t ever put down or ridicule the other team or its players. We don’t boo the other school, but cheer proudly for our own. Putting down another school is not who we are, nor who we want to be.
To me, the greatest compliment of a student body is, after winning or losing the game, the other school says, “They played hard, they fought hard, and their student body is a class act. Let that be what they say about us tonight. Let that be our reputation throughout Baldwin County!