The time has arrived for members of the graduating Class of 2019 to collect their diplomas and head out into the world.

Graduation ceremonies at local high schools will signal the start of a new chapter in life for several hundred young men and women who will collect their diploma, walk off stage and into their future.

I look forward to this time of year. Not that I’m happy to see the grads go, or that I’m a big fan of the “Pomp and Circumstance.”

This is, however, a time when I get to offer my advice.....completely unsolicited, most likely unwanted and quite possibly of questionable merit.

But here goes anyway.....words of wisdom which reflect not formal education but life lessons learned through the course of the four-plus decades which have passed since I was handed my high school diploma.

Get your face out of your phone. Texting is not conversation, nor is it connecting. There’s a whole real world out there. Enjoy it.

Question and explore.

Think for yourself.

Be true to yourself, but not self-centered. One is the foundation for success; the other very unbecoming.

Don’t whine.

Pick up after yourself, and learn to do your own laundry.

Be respectful and courteous to your elders. For that matter, be respectful and courteous to everybody.

Find your passion in life, and pursue it relentlessly.

Choose to make a positive difference.

Understand that one small gesture or kind word may make more of a difference in someone’s life than you ever realize.

Choose your words wisely....and remember that harsh words as well as loving ones can leave a lifelong impression on another human being.

Be fair, even if life isn’t.

Thank your parents in a few years when you realize they knew what they were talking about all along.

Be responsible.

Be at work when you’re at work.

Realize that you are owed nothing but an opportunity.

Be responsible for your obligations to others.

Win with grace; lose with dignity. You will do both.

Take walks on the beach, preferably with somebody you love.

Cherish each day, and each person important in your life. Tomorrow is promised no one.

Prosper.....but do so honestly and not at the expense of others.

Plant a garden, and marvel as it flourishes.

Nurture your soul as well as your garden.

Never sacrifice your integrity.

Know that you will be tested in life....and that life does not grade on the curve.

Understand that what you have the right to do is often not the right thing to do, and make the right choice even when it is not the easy choice.

Build good will and a good name. Both are of immeasurable value.

Value above all that which is important in life.....not that which is shallow, superficial and ultimately empty.


Remember your roots with pride.

Sometimes it is your fault. When it is, own it.

You will fall, and you will fail. Pick yourself up and keep moving.

The world does not revolve around you.

Tell people you love that you love them.


Do not look down on others.

Don’t buy the garbage that clothes make the man or that you are what you drive. Those are just things.

Never stop learning. involved in your community and make it stronger.

The list is endless.....and you are about to discover all those things about life that you don’t yet understand or know.

Now go change the world.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at or by calling (209) 243-8104.