To the students of any school, but especially the Jefferson H.S. students I saw when I visited Jefferson.
What is expected of you after high school?
The four years you spend in high school are the last years you will have for a free education. After high school is over, education costs thousands of dollars, no more free ride.
No excuses about teachers, books, other kids or whatever will be accepted by the world after high school is over.
You will be expected to:
- read instructions, magazines, books, forms, traffic tickets, drivers manuals, tax forms (if you have a job)
- do basic math such as adding, subtracting, dividing and %
- know how to write in English, a sentence, a paragraph, an explanation
- know and understand the political system
- know and understand your history and maybe even the history of America and the world
- have read books commonly called classics, both modern and old
- know about scientific discoveries and the scientific method
- respect other people's space
- obey the laws
- provide for your own food, shelter and transportation
- get a job or
- get more education
- work hard and be honest with time and property
- not have a chip on your shoulder
That's right, all this and more will be expected of you. Teenagers who do not know these things will not be able to compete. Without these skills you will be toast.
Are you saying "B.S."? That is your choice. But when you go to apply for a job with your brain empty and your baggy pants sagging down below your butt, you will be competing with some kid who knows how to act, dress, and has the skills; some kid who will get the job you wanted; some kid who can add two columns of numbers without using fingers, and wants to be a trusted part of an organization of hard working people.
Are you going to have the skills to compete in the real world? Now is the time to evaluate your chances and take action. If you have talent as an artist, dancer, musician or actor then you should be putting 110% into becoming the best. It isn't only about jobs, so don't forget your artistic skills.
When you are on your own after graduation how will you make a living? What will you have to offer in exchange for your food and housing? Will you have skills that anyone would pay you for? Can you write, keyboard a computer letter, run a machine? What skills will the competition have? Now is the time to think about these things, because after you graduate it will be too late. From then on you will pay, one way or another.
Look around you. Are you in a class that pays attention when the teacher is talking? Are you in a class of students trying to do the assigned tasks? If not, then it is up to you to help change that. Are you part of the problem or the solution?
Look at the list at the top of the page. Are you able to meet those expectations? Now is the time to evaluate and change your course. After you graduate, no one is going to care whether or not you are interested in history, whether or not you "like" math, whether you want to write a paragraph of English or not. You will just be expected to know how, like it or not.
I meet graduates of Portland high schools everyday and I am impressed with how well-spoken and at ease they are, how skilled they seem in their jobs. Because of this I know the schools are doing a good job, but some kids are in for a big surprise because they are not doing their part in their own education.
Ancil Nance, Jefferson H.S. Class of '59