An open letter to Class of 2024

Dear high school senior:

It’s been a busy year, hasn’t it? Senior photos, mailing out invitations, prom, trying to think of something witty to say when someone asks about your plans for the future.

About all that’s left is a long, hot ceremony in a robe your grandmother wouldn’t be caught dead in and a reception with those fancy little sandwiches your anxious mother is so crazy about.

Hang in there. Even if you want to shout “free at last!” as you are handed your diploma, exercise self-control and smile proudly as you try to exit the stage without falling down the steps. Your mother will be okay and the gifts are worth the discomfort.

It’s been 58 years since I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma. I didn’t shout “free at last” because I was unsure that my diploma was signed. The superintendent and I had had a little disagreement the night before graduation and he threatened that my diploma would not be signed. I held my breath right up until I got a look at the “sheepskin.” Those signatures were beautiful, even if the writing wasn’t all that legible.

A lot of pushy adults will be offering you unsolicited advice in the next few weeks, and I’d like to be among the first. I want to share with you a few lessons I have learned in the past several decades.

Lesson No. 1 — When someone says “trust me,” don’t. Trustworthy individuals demonstrate their trustworthiness daily; they don’t have to ask you for your trust.

Lesson No. 2 — Stand up for what you believe. We should be slow to judge others and quick to admit when we’re wrong. However, we should also be bold enough to stand up for what we believe is right. We live in a society that is becoming valueless; we need more citizens who are willing to voice their convictions. I’ve been kidded and chided for some of my beliefs. The discomfort of that derision, however, was less painful than the shame I’ve felt when I have failed to stand up for what I believe to be right.

Lesson No. 3 — Laugh. The Proverbs tell us that “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Researchers have proven the value of laughter in controlling pain and relieving stress. Only a fool laughs at everything, of course, but there is plenty in this world to laugh at, including yourself. When you are self-confident enough to laugh at yourself, you’re ready for the real world.

Lesson No. 4 — The people who are loudest in voicing their opinions on a subject generally know the least about it.

Lesson No. 5 — Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. “That’s why they put the rubber (eraser) on the pencil,” Grandpa Huisman used to say, “so we can start over.”

Lesson No. 6 — Don’t compare anything in real life with what you see on television or in the movies.

Lesson No. 7 — If there’s something you dislike about the way your parents raised you, write down on a sheet of paper those methods or issues with which you disagree. Then file that document where you’ll be able to find it when you have children of your own. Consult your notes regularly while rearing your own children. Very regularly.

Lesson No. 8 — Don’t accept too much blame for what’s wrong with the world today. Your parents’ and grandparents’ generations are responsible for most of the mess. Do accept the responsibility, however, to try to make the world a better place to live for your children and grandchildren.

Lesson No. 9 — Someone once said, “Kissin’ don’t last, but cookin’ do.” I disagree.

Lesson No. 10 — Before you go, be sure to thank your teachers.

Our lives have not happened by accident. There is a Master Designer who gave us an operation manual for our lives. It’s called the Bible. As in any situation, reading the manual first will not only make things a little easier but also give you a better understanding of why you’re here. Start with the Book of Proverbs.

Congratulations on your graduation and best wishes to you in the years ahead. I trust your diploma will be signed.

Your friend,


Arvid Huisman can be contacted at huismaniowa@gmail.com. ©2024 by Huisman Communications.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $3.46/week.

Subscribe Today