â�?�?We need youâ�?¦
please come help usâ�?�? Miller tells VHS grads that
important tasks await them By David Lias
Plain Talk The Rev. Steve Miller, speaker at Vermillion High School's commencement exercises May 24 in the DakotaDome, crunched some numbers while preparing his speech. "Sixteen thousand three hundred eighty – that's the total number of hours you've spent in school the last 13 years," he told the Class of 2009. "That doesn't count extra-curricular activities or homework." Miller also calculated that the class members had heard 35,700 school bells ring and had looked at a total of 75,200 book pages and computer screens during their 13 years as students in the Vermillion School District. "The reason I wanted to start with numbers is just to remind you about this being a day that isn't about one moment," Miller said. "It's comprehensive – it's about you showing off for the last 13 years. We're not celebrating one special event today; we're celebrating 16,380 hours that you showed up. That's amazing. "Showing up is the most important thing you can do in life, and you've done it so well that we're here to clap and shout and eat cake with you today," he said. Miller said there are two numbers in particular that the graduates should remember. "The first one is the number zero," he said. "That sounds funny, probably, because I have just been saying how this is a comprehensive day where we are celebrating all of the great stuff that you now know. But I'd like you to think right now about not what you know, but what you don't know." Miller said his role at Sunday's commencement was to welcome the new graduates into a world where there are many important issues that need attention. "We need some help – that 'we' is those of us who think sometimes we know the answers but don't. There is a lot of stuff that we don't know, and I am eager to welcome your ideas," he said. "There are a lot of people in this world we need to feed and people who need homes. We need a cure for cancer and AIDS. We need to stop war and violence and oppression. We need to figure out how to have enough energy to do the fun things we want to do, we need to take care of our environment – the list is endless. "We don't know those answers yet, but when I look out at you," he told the graduates, "I know that in here are the ideas of the future. You may not even know that you know it yet, but you have an idea that might just help us with those big things … we need you. Please come help us." The second number Miller asked the Class of 2009 to think about isn't one that people share in common. "In fact, each of us has to find our own number for this one, and this is a number that started back when you were in kindergarten," he said. He reminded the graduates that during their first day of school, each member of the class was able to bring a parent or guardian with them to help them feel safe. On the second day, each got to bring a stuffed animal. "And on the third day, you had to go at it alone, but here's the secret about school: there were lots of people who were watching you, and caring for you and nurturing you," Miller said. "That's beyond your parents and your stuffed animals. Your teachers and your principals, your librarians and your custodians, your cafeteria workers, your bus drivers, your coaches – those are just a few of lots of people who were gently nurturing you along the way, and that's the number I want you to think about." He reached for a diploma on the table near the speaker's podium, pulled it out of its envelope and opened it. "There are four signatures on here," Miller said. "But there just as well be 500." That number includes all of the people who are proud of each class member, who have watched each individual grow, and who have walked with each member of the Class of 2009 throughout the last 13 years. "As you go out into this world where we need your help, they go with you, too, and they are very proud of you," Miller said. "So, remember what you don't know, and remember all of us who walk with you into this new chapter in your life. We are very proud of you. Come join us." See more scenes from VHS's graduation exercises by logging on to spotted.yankton.net.