By Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood
With this being the last week of school, I wanted to give a message to the graduating class of 2016.
A graduation ceremony is always such a special occasion, the culmination of years of hard work; the completion of goals that were set and the acknowledgement of successes achieved. This is the end of an era in your life and the beginning of a new chapter. You have worked hard to arrive to this phase in life and will always have fond memories to look back on and draw from. You have formed relationships that will endure a lifetime. But the law of nature teaches us that life is about change and you are at a point in your journey that leads you to face many opportunities.
A wise man once said that “you will make your own breaks in life.” That wise man is my father, Tom Wood. I have lived by these words and with my father’s influence; I have become the man I am today. I have been blessed with many positive influences in my life and am grateful for each and every one of them. I would tell each of you that with graduation comes great responsibility and remind each of you not to forget your support structure. You have family and friends that will be there for you at times of need or just to listen to the struggles of the day. Life is not always fair and does not always go as planned, but be confident that you have learned the tools necessary to overcome life’s trials and “make your own breaks.”
Henry Ford wisely said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress and working together is success.” As you look back over the last few years, certainly there was a beginning, and thankfully there was also progress and yes, undeniably, you have been successful.
I would encourage you to remember back to your first day of school. We all started out the same way, a little nervous, a little excited and not sure of exactly what to expect. Over your years in school, you learned the routine of school life, what to expect for lunch, be to class on time and you have made friends along the way. As you advanced through the grades, your routines changed at certain milestones. As you advanced to junior high and then to high school, you became more accountable for your own destiny. You were able to make more of your own choices and hopefully have learned that things don’t always work out as you have planned. Your journey, although short has lead you to this point in life and prepared you to adapt to future routines.
This is merely the beginning of many routines to master in life. Some say that this is the end of the easy life and the beginning of the real challenges life has to offer. The future is in your hands and the decisions you make from this point on will have major effects on your life. Choose wisely and “make your own breaks.” You cannot rely on luck; you must dedicate yourself to the future and live the American dream. I must remind you that you are already at an advantage in life and are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. The American dream is alive and well and is yours for the taking. The sky is truly the limit.
The graduating class of 2016 holds the future in your hands. But not only your futures, for you hold the future of the American dream and the American way of life in your hands. Among you are future business owners, elected officials, community leaders, baseball coaches, farmers, moms and dads to say the least. You are ready and willing to take the torch and make the future decades of this great country the greatest in history.
May your years ahead continue to be characterized by empathy, compassion, objectivity and willingness to take risks. For without risk there is no reward. May you always lead by example, work hard and live life to the fullest. May your successes be many and your tribulations are few and far between.
I would be not the Sheriff if I did not mention that graduation day is not a free pass to go wild. Celebrate your accomplishments with friends and family, but do so responsibly. Make sure you are where you are supposed to be and don’t do anything that you would not do with your parents. Please make good choices and remember that decisions made today could affect the rest of your lives.
I want to leave you with a few words of wisdom I have learned through my lifetime.
1. Never be afraid to ask questions. The only dumb question is the one never asked.
2. If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.
3. Dare to dream and realize that dreams are always within reach. I still remember a young boy who once dreamed of becoming sheriff.
4. Hard work does pay off if you are dedicated to a job well done.
With all of that said, I want to say congratulations to the graduating class of 2016. May God bless you. Go out there and “make your own breaks in life.”