Charge to class: ‘Be that guy’

The charge to Unionville High School's Class of 2017 was a straightforward one, "Be that guy."

That was the basic message from Principal Jimmy Conley to the almost 300 students in the class during the June 7 commencement ceremony held at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware.

Conley told a story from his home life, about how his wife reacted to something about their 13-year-old son's friend who other kids would ridicule and laugh at over something that should have been celebrated, something that led his wife to create a family motto for the summer: Be that Guy.

"Being that guy in our home means striving to become the idealized person who we all want to strive to be, the version of us that is our best self," he said.

Unionville High School Principal Jimmy Conley charges the Class of 2017 to "Be that guy."

His wife, he told the class and audience, hung a piece of construction paper in their son's room with a series of statements:

"Be that guy who sits with the kid in the cafeteria who is sitting alone,

"Be that guy who works hard everyday,

"Be that guy who says thank you to all of his teachers,

"Be that guy who high fives all of his teammates after every play, even if they miss the shot or drop the pass,

"Be that guy who tells people they are doing a great job,

"Be the guy who loves Mom's cooking and gives her hugs everyday (okay, admittedly that one is a bit self-serving on her behalf, but remember she is the only female in a home of four guys)."

Crossing the stage and getting the diploma is what it's all about.

Conley then told members of the class to be the person that others can count on and be kind just because it's the right thing to do, to be accountable and to stop people from posting on social media things that hurt others.

"So, Class of 2017, I challenge you as my wife has done to my 13-year-old son and the rest of our family, to be that person. It takes courage to be that person! Whatever platitudes you may hear over the next few months, no matter how old that you are, please know that it's really hard to stand up and be ‘That person!' But also know, that we have your back," he said.

Superintendent of Schools John Sanville also addressed the class, telling the graduates to remember the moments, conversations and discoveries, "all the little things that made your time in UCF so special...because it's the little things that add up to big things."

But also to remember the new moments they will have as they move into their next phase of life, whether that phase includes formal education, military service or working their way a corporate ladder in business.

"Almost immediately you will have a new collection of stories that capture moments, conversations, events, discoveries, and ideas to draw on," Sanville said. "And herein lies the lesson: pay attention to the people, occasions, and happenings for they, collectively, create the pathway forward."

To do that, he said, the graduates should take care in how they interact with others, to be sincere and polite, to take care in what they believe and to ask questions.

"The way you move through life influences the quality of your experiences, and that will determine the kinds of stories your life is made of. One of the greatest resources people cannot mobilize themselves is that they try to accomplish great things. Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction, "Sanville said.


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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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