I’m completing my second year of substitute teaching. Mostly in middle schools. It’s been a richly rewarding experience. As a “sub” I was nary considered to speak at graduations, joining the faculty donning mortarboards and gowns festooned with their academic credentials and achievements.

Frankly, as a student, mine were scant. The name on my diploma was penciled in, and misspelled. At the commencement, my family wore ski masks.

Regardless, I’d like to offer this slightly amended essay, written (way) back in 2010 when my eighth-grader grandson graduated from St. Michael School.

“Dudes and dudesses, I jive you not. I’d give anything to slip into crocs an’ sit right beside to you, headin’ for high school. Considering what I thought I knew then, and realizing what I do know now — man, I’d behave differently! The world today is a very confused, angry and divisive place. We apologize. But we’re counting on you to calm it down, fix — and heal it. I wish you the privilege and benefits of all forms of alternative energy — wind, solar and tidal. Climate change isn’t an opinion, or even an option. It’s science, kids.

“Work hard — achieve! Rejoice in the accomplishments of others as you would your own. Absorb ideas and knowledge anywhere you can. In, and out, of school. There’s much to learn and discover. Imagination is ubiquitous! Endeavor to create something of greater value than a Facebook page. Venture beyond Instagram images — witness the world for yourself.”

(The principal shoots me the finger-across-the-throat, “wrap it up!” sign)


“In conclusion, always — through your own unique and precious voices — speak truth to power! Take chances. Make mistakes — that’s how you grow. Success isn’t inherited or purchased — it’s earned! Thanks! Too-da-loo!”

After resounding applause (if any) I take them all out for pizza.


Buddy Doyle


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