2006-06-23 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. Nancy gahles
DR. Nancy gahles At this time of year it is customary to celebrate graduations. We congratulate those who have met all the tests and standards of excellence required to move forward to the next level. This is for achievements in the field of academia. That is, were you able to listen, comprehend, assimilate and feed back the material presented to you in the format in which it is expected? Were you able to negotiate those standardized exams that define how "good" or "acceptable" you are? The graduation ceremony highlights those individuals who achieved academic excellence, and rightfully so. That, however, leaves out a whole host of significant others.

I was extremely heartened to hear the Salutatorian address of a graduate of Lawrence Woodmere Academy, Class of 2006. He gratefully acknowledged his achievements but his address focused on the need to celebrate virtues as accomplishments of equal importance. I was struck by the humility and graciousness of this gesture. While he did not denigrate his own accomplishments, he said that it was only academics. He simply did his work, read the texts, listened to his teachers and took the required exams. He extolled the virtues of those who were kind, helpful, compassionate, caring, charitable individuals. Those who make up the heart and soul of a school. It is these qualities that make a school, a learning environment, a family. It is this sense of family that strengthens each and every one to move forward with confidence, to believe in themselves, to celebrate their uniqueness.

A "good education" is one that is well rounded both in academia and in the character building virtues that you can't learn from a book. They come from living together in times of opportunity and in times of adversity coupled with leadership.

I was fortunate to attend the Awards Ceremony at Lawrence Woodmere Academy as well.

It happened to have been a banner year for them in the sports arena.

Many "firsts" and so many talented athletes contributing to championships that were only dreams in previous years.

As each award was presented, again, the focus was on the team spirit generated and the cooperation that made these achievements possible. Coaches and team members alike were choking back tears as they spoke of the true camaraderie that makes a team and a star.

Mr. Alan Bernstein, Headmaster of LWA, aptly remarked, "I don't know if this ceremony is about sports or love. I think it's about love."

And, folks, you've heard me say this before but....It's ALL about love.

I am certain that Lawrence Woodmere Academy is not the only learning institution that celebrates the whole person.

I know many families that are just that for their children.

In essence, all of life is a learning institution designed to mark challenges and defeats with appropriate accolades and to bolster each other with kindness and compassion on our journey.

Congratulations to all of us as we leave the hallmarks of the known and take the courage to venture into territories unknown. It is the underpinnings of years of tutelage of encouragement born of love that allows us to take this step.

I will send you on your way with an excerpt from a favorite Psalm ( 91) of mine.

"..For He will give His angels charge over thee, To keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee upon their hands, Lest thou dash thy foot upon a stone."

May The Blessings Be!

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