Doctor Seuss was a genius.

Seriously! As a kid, didn’t you want to play with “The Cat in the Hat”? Eat “Green Eggs and Ham? Live with “The Fox in a Box — and his sox?

As we think about our school experiences, Dr. Seuss’ tallest tales have even more relevance– and I’m not just talking the math lessons in “One Fish, Two Fish”.

Because today, we begin an exploration of all that the world has to offer– and what we have to offer the world. The title of one particular Seuss classic comes to mind:

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go”

But that begs the question: Where have you been?

High school is where we made friends. We forged second families. We found confidants… advisers… our cheerleaders… our mentors.

Sorry, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. A school is not defined as simply as “an institution for the teaching and learning of children.” It’s a place that helped us discover who we are, who we want to be, and— “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.

But what are we leaving behind?

Sadly, in some cases, our homes; certainly, the school that gave us a home away from home. But we also leave the comfort of adult authority. We don’t want to admit it, but there’s security in having parameters set by our families and teachers; there’s sanctuary in “the structured environment” created by adults. It’s easy to throw off our graduation caps and say: “We’re free!” But that reaction comes with a realization: we are leaving something behind… a life of ease… the comfort of being reminded that we have responsibilities.

Because now… the choices are ours to make. Whether or not we make it to “the mountain top” is for us to decide. We are told it’s a steep, uphill climb. Our families and our teachers gave us road maps. But after today, we become decision-making adults. Free thinkers. Forward thinkers.

Much like what we learned through another Seuss title: “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think”.

Yes, there’s sadness in what we leave behind. But there’s also the celebration of what we take with us… the memories… the life lessons… for better or worse, the drama… feelings of love… of longing… of belonging.

In high school, I found a love for learning, and a longing for reading, and a sense of belonging– particularly, in helping to direct great musicals. I found my niche with the nerds and the choir kids, and you, too, may have found a home. Maybe, it was in a sport… or a club. By belonging to something at Bartlett High School– no matter how hard the journey seemed at times– we molded our identities and were provided memories that will last a lifetime. Physically, we are leaving a school in and through which our teachers helped guide us. But we are tied forever to the memories of the emotions evoked by those experiences. The moments…

By putting the past in perspective, we map the winding roads that lay before us.

Or, in the words of Dr. Seuss:

“You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go”