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A Wish for Our New Graduates

graduation hats

To continue our Graduation Week posts, I wanted to share this wonderful short poem from Donald Kaag, a high school teacher from Moscow, Idaho. He shared it at a high school graduation in 2006, the year he was retiring. These were his final words to his students and I think they are applicable to all of us:


I’d wish you a nice life

If I didn’t care about you so much…

What I wish for you is freezing cold graduate homeless-man

So you will appreciate warmth.

Real hunger

So food will taste wonderful when you get it.


So that when you find a true friend you will appreciate

The work and the difficulty of earning…and keeping…friendship.

graduates friends-fingersI wish you love

And loss

And love again…

That you find something so precious you would give your life for it,

And then the sense…the heart…to live for it.

I wish you fearˇˇˇˇ

So you can confront it, conquer it.

And a life lived…earned…

A life of challenge and caring

Despite the cost

Giving your best,whatever it takesgraduates giving

Standing for what you believe in…whatever it is.

Giving more than you take

I wish you to brave the storms of life

Pay the cost in wounds…tears…scars

And I wish you the most precious gift you can ever possess…grauate build stairs

The character you fabricate along the way.

Don’t have a nice life My Kiddos

Build a good one.


  1. Rita P. Richardson

    It think that this poem will give the new graduate a no fail road map to a full life filled with all the things that give them happiness and satisfaction in all aspects of their lives.

  2. what a wise way to see life! This article really touched me. Thank you 🙂

  3. A life with no pain or worries would be wonderful. I just can’t wish evil on people. This is the old idea that hardship builds character. It just causes pain and for no good reason. The less of it in life the better.

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