Ken Donaldson: D.W. Waters Graduating Class and I Dare You…Too!

Ken Donaldson Keynote at D.W. Waters Graduation

I had the privilege and honor on this past Thursday evening of delivering the graduation keynote for the D.W. Waters class of 2010.

Just to give you a little insight, D.W. Waters’ motto is “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that counts!”

No big deal, right?

Wrong!

This is a WAY special class…check out their enrollment criteria:
• At least 16 years of age
• At least one year behind in school
• No record of severe discipline problems
• Wants to focus on a chosen Career Cluster at DWWCC (D. W. Waters Career Center)
• Willing to commit to workplace training (OJT)

These are the students who make “high risk” look like every day living. For whatever reason (pregnancy, emotional and/or learning challenges, abuse, etc.), these courageous young people chose to continue on.

Most of them were so far behind that they couldn’t even imagine catching up, much less graduating.

And it would have been easier to quit!

A group of about 12 students sang the musical selection for the ceremony, I Believe I Can Fly. A perfect song for the students, the school and the event.

Here are the lyrics in case you’re not familiar with song:

“I Believe I Can Fly”
~R. KELLY

I used to think that I could not go on
And life was nothing but an awful song
But now I know the meaning of true love
I’m leaning on the everlasting arms

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

See I was on the verge of breaking down
Sometimes silence can seem so loud
There are miracles in life I must achieve
But first I know it starts inside of me, oh

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

Hey, cause I believe in me, oh

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

Hey, if I just spread my wings
I can fly
I can fly
I can fly, hey
If I just spread my wings
I can fly
Fly-eye-eye

Anyway, I thought long and hard about what to say to them.

So I decided to dare them…yes, I simply dared them…

I dared them to find and be the greatness that they truly are.

I dared them to find their unique purpose and live it every day in every way.

I dared them to find their own personal soul food and to continually, without fail, feed their spirit.

I dare them to figure out, set and maintain the boundaries that will empower them, to say a resounding “Yes” to all they do want, need and desire, and say a resonant “No” to all they will not tolerate.

I dared them to realize that the world needs them today more than ever, and the answers to the world’s problems will not come from Washington or Hollywood, but rather, from each and every one of them.

I dared them to surround themselves with the people who love them, accept them and encourage them, and to step away from those who don’t.

I dared them to tell themselves, time and time again, that they are deserving, gifted and of great value, and to say that to themselves as their powerful and affirming mantra.

I dared them to realize that life is full of unexpected challenges (I mentioned this as a very young child in the audience began to express herself in a very assertive way!) and one of the greatest gifts we can all give to ourselves is the gift of humor, which allows us to be flexible and fluid as we navigate down the river of life.

I dared them to remind that person in the mirror of their greatness, their importance, their value and their purpose, time and time and time again.

Yes, I simply dared them to be great.

Them, their parents, their friends, the teachers, and everyone else who was there on Thursday…I dared them all.

But the greatest dare I addressed was the dare to myself…to live what I said; to practice what I preached; to be the model of the dare.

What about you…have you dared yourself lately?

I dare you

PS I hope to have a video of the whole presentation soon…I think it’ll worth watching…stay tuned!

Ken at D.W. Waters with another Marry YourSelf First fan!

 Marry YourSelf First!

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About Ken Donaldson

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