After offering his congratulations to the new inductees of the Cum Laude Society, Bob Wills, a parent of three alumni, and a former trustee and board chair, who was significantly involved in the vision and practicalities of the Garth Campus, addressed the Upper School, sharing with them eight things that characterize Randolph for him and some general advice for life.
"Where you are today did not happen overnight."
I want you to know that where you are today did not happen overnight – hard work, dedication and strong leadership (and some luck) have made this institution. Simply put, you cannot appreciate anything unless you were there to see the challenges and hurdles the leaders faced. It’s been an incredible run, and I think it will continue to be.
We are sitting today in an incredible facility, one that was built a few years back. I remember when we were close to the end, Dr. Hulsey was worried about our being ready to open on time, and we found out this wall was out of synch, and we had to totally tear it down and rebuild it; fortunately we were still on-time.
But is that all Randolph is? As we all know, the facility is just that, a facility; it is what goes on inside each classroom, the teachers, the coaches, the administration, the cleaners, the people who maintain the buildings and the landscape, along with you, the students – essentially just one large family – one that comes together for the betterment of all – not about just you or me but about us. That’s what makes this school unique.
Above: Bob Wills points to the wall they rebuilt.
I want to talk about some basic things that are very special about Randolph:
Honor Code – This is enforced and managed by fellow students. It teaches personal responsibility and respect. It teaches you to do things for the right reason, not because someone is watching. I am reminded of it by the poem “Myself” by Edgar Albert Guest.
Senior/Kindergarten Buddies – What is greater for a Kindergartner than to have a big brother or big sister who is a SENIOR! I wanted to share these pictures of my son, Edward ’04, and his Kindergarten buddy, Logan. So the time has finally come and now Logan is a senior with a Kindergarten buddy of his own. It’s a huge relationship that instills a sense of ownership and family. I am just so proud when I see these pictures.
It is okay to be smart – Rick Keyser [former Randolph administrator] used to tell me that about the students here, and it never really struck me until we had a friend with a son at a local high school and a daughter at Randolph, and their experiences were so different. His son was ridiculed for being smart. Here, people are all embraced for who they are. That’s a wonderful thing.
Senior privileges – You earn them through personal responsibility. This is good practice for next year when you’re in college and you don’t have mom and dad to oversee your activities. The discipline to do the right thing is so important. Because remember one thing about life: When you jump over the bridge, you can’t rewind the clock.
Strong relationships – I know technology plays a part in this, but I am amazed by how my kids and their friends have stayed together by the relationships they have. That says a lot about Randolph School.
Athletic fields/Garth facility – Lights on the fields have brought new life to Randolph on Friday nights. On the Drake Campus, we couldn’t have them, but when we were able to get lights on the fields over here, it was the greatest thing. I was at a football game this fall and saw the kids running around and everyone having fun as a real community – it brings the family together.
A community of “GIVERS” – You are the recipient of an exceptional educational opportunity here and of what other people have given. I challenge all of you down the road to remember that and to give back. I’ve been around a long time, and I am amazed at what people have done for this school and what they do for this school is for you. Future students will be dependent on your “giving back” as well
Do things that truly drive you - Pursue what you love, but be realistic and patient. Good outcomes take time.
Don’t try to be what you cannot – We can’t all be LeBron James.
Life is a long-distance race – What you do today may not play out for 10 years or longer.
Adversity is no fun, but it‘s part of life – Learn how to handle it – your future will be much better for it. Remember, life is tough even when you do the right things.
Hang around people who are positive and motivate/drive you – negativity is toxic and it will destroy you internally.
Listen more than you talk – There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.
Only accept what you worked for and earned versus instant gratification – the harder you work, the more it means to you.
If it is too easy, you are not pushing yourself; if you're only doing for money, you may be doing it for the wrong reason – money creates as many problems as it solves.
Do things because they are the right things to do rather than because people are watching.
If you have time, utilize it before you make decisions – Let things play out; that will often make you look very smart.
Know who you are and where you come from – Spend time with your parents and grandparents so you can connect to your past. As you get older, there will be days when you look back and say, "Thank goodness I listened, because that’s who I am."
Freedom is not free – All it requires is to have a basic understanding and respect for the law and your fellow man.
Do not take everything for granted – Most of what one gets out of life is “earned.”
Leadership is about bringing people together – This country was known as a melting pot to create much greater things than oneself, e.g. Randolph School!
Be thankful for what you have – If you are down in the dumps, go watch this video on Clay Dyer from Hamilton, Ala. He fishes ProBass Circuit and he was born with no arms or legs. Count your blessings, as he does.
Lastly, I hope you realize how fortunate you are to live in a great community and for what our forefathers and leaders did to provide what we have today. Randolph has a history of dedicated leaders who continue to provide the vision and guidance. The result is an incredible education and experience for our students.
I also want to recognize and thank Linda Bryant for her dedication to Randolph. In my role as a board chair and having served on head search committees, one of the greatest things you can have as a school is financial stability. Linda, for the past 25 years, has put her heart and soul into maintaining and managing this school, and that allows our leaders to concentrate on the educational side of the School and your personal experience.
I wish you all the best and hope all your dreams come true – one last thing – my last comment – when it is all said and done, it will be the relationships and people in your life who will be most important and family is always #1. Remember that as you pursue a career. There is a balance in family versus career – sometimes it’s a difficult one, but it’s important to be there for your kids. I am very proud of all of you, and I wish you all the very best!