A couple of things from the last few days have brought to mind my message for you today. Last week I attended graduation ceremonies at UW Madison and I saw a whole new crop of civil engineers advance into the world. Some of these engineers will spend a lifetime designing and building bridges. Also, I am sure many of you saw the news release that on today the Golden Gate Bridge across the San Francisco Bay turns 75 years old. These two converging thoughts about bridges have been translated into this discourse.
First a bridge needs a good base if it is to last a lifetime, it needs a good solid foundation. By graduating, you have given yourselves that foundational base; you have the opportunity now to move on to college or to further training in the military or in your career – whatever direction you are headed; this education recorded on your transcript can never be taken away. However, as most of you know, a high school education today is only a start on the path toward higher learning or work skills. Take this base, build upon it, and become lifelong learners.
The second metaphor is the old saying; do not burn your bridges. This saying has an etymology that goes back to wooden bridge days when armies would burn the bridge structures after crossing to cut off their opponents. The modern use of the term is to remind people to be careful to act politely and appropriately when leaving a situation; as you never know when you may need to come back to that person later for help, a recommendation, or who knows what. You need to build, and open, as many relationship bridges as possible. Even today as technology continues to change communications and the work world, remember that relationships still matter.
This diploma signifies something accomplished, and also leads to more responsibility. As you come up here and go across this metaphorical bridge to receive your diploma, and later at graduation parties, and well into your life, remember that with each step forward comes greater responsibility. Please think about all your actions, and attempt to make the best choices. Life is simply a series of choices, choose very well.
I will close my message with what I have been saying to my children for all of their lives; Have Fun, But, Be Good!
Now for what you are here for:
The Constitution and the Statues of the State of Wisconsin, give our Board of Education and Administration the power to grant diplomas to pupils who successfully complete the academic requirements of the Prairie du Chien Area Public School District.
Today, I am very pleased to report to our community, that all of the young men and women before you, robed in Maroon and Black, have met or exceeded these requirements. Therefore, I hereby certify that these 95 candidates are to be awarded a high school diploma.
Build good bridges and congratulations!