That was one of three things John Doucette asked of Liverpool Regional High School’s 2012 graduating class. Doucette stood at the podium facing the students who dawned red gowns. Many of them he knew from teaching them at South Queens Junior High School.
John, son of high school principal Terry Doucette, was the guest speaker at the high school convocation in Liverpool June 28.
The first thing John told his former students was how proud he was to be talking to them on their graduation night.
“Now, six years ago, I looked out at a group of nervous, quivering, non-bearded Grade 7s, and oh how the world turns,” he said.
“Today you guys are looking at me, nervous and quivering.”
John then shared with students the reason he became a teacher.
“It’s the connections. You build stories, and you build connections,” he said.
He shared stories of connections he’s established with students over the years.
“Connections like this. Does anyone recognize this?” asked John.
He held a mug up. The mug had a photo on it. John’s first homeroom class, six years ago, gave it to him.
“There are no beards,” he said about the photo, and students laughed.
Six years ago, John vowed he would put the mug somewhere safe and not use it. Last Thursday night, he broke his vow as he poured water into the mug. Loud applause followed as he sipped from his gift.
John also asked students to celebrate and compliment others’ strengths.
“If you can find strengths in other people, you’ll be a much happier person,” he said.
John told graduates to never underestimate the importance of having fun.
“A joie de vivre and a good sense of humour will help you heal from so many mistakes that you will make. It’s a necessity,” he said. “You need to work to live; don’t live to work.”
Before students crossed the stage to get their diplomas, awards and scholarships, Terry told the audience he begins school years with the word respect. But last Thursday, the word was pride.
The principal asked students to take pride in themselves and their accomplishments.
“Use your pride as a strength to be successful,” he said.