Tuesday, June 10. 2008
Just remember...everything starts when this ends.
I warned you all that it was easier to write this than to say this. I didn’t do a good job of holding myself together during 6th – and I appreciate their kind decision to continue listening to me – and I’m going to try to write down what’s been on my mind.
I’ve learned a few things since I graduated from high school. I feel like some of these lessons could be useful – and wish someone had told me about them in advance, at any rate. Other lessons are more personal, and may not apply to you.
Still, I’d like to use my online soap box one more time to share a few of those nuggets of wisdom.
Feel free to read what’s here and use the comment thread as a place to say goodbye to all those who have read your work in the past!
Finally, Mr. Kerney is still looking into whether an alumni blog would be viable; if I’m able to launch one, it’ll be available at http://blogs.ausd.net/users/sfhpalumni. You’ll need to sign up for a new Portal account, since your school account expires when you graduate, but I won’t have any qualms with running an alumni blog if people used it; I think Duma’s idea is pretty neat.
Without further ado, my top ten pieces of advice for the years to come:
+ Don’t take it personally if people worry about you – because we will worry. You’re about to go through an intense period of transition; even those of you who will remain at home will need to make that final push into independent adulthood. People will worry because you’re entering an uncertain period; it’s a symptom of their affection for you, not their disrespect. Don’t resent them for caring about you – appreciate it for what it is.
+ Don’t dwell on the past so much that you forget to live in the present. Personally, I like to look back at my memories from time to time; I figure that I’ll have a better sense of where I’m going if I remember where I’m from. But I spent too much time looking backwards when I was a freshman in college. I really loved the place where I grew up, and I had a great time in high school. I was reluctant to leave, and didn’t allow myself to make a clean break for a variety of reasons. But my decision to cling to my recent past didn’t really help me…it only delayed my adjustment to life in a place where I didn’t know a single person. The realization that the past was the past, and that my friends would come of age in different ways in different places, was difficult – but it was one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned. I’m still friends with some of the people I was closest to during high school; they aren’t the “same” people, but neither am I, and that’s OK. Love the people who matter to you, and don’t hold back for fear that your friendships will fade – that merely ensures they will.
+ Age matters less than insight, wisdom, or courage. You’ll acquire each with time, and you’ve already acquired your fair share! You’re still young, but you’re about to learn a lot about yourself in an extremely compressed period of time. You’ll need to build mental discipline, and be willing to view yourself honestly. and a willingness to be honest with yourself, but this is one of the best opportunities for growth you’ll ever have.
+ Push yourself. I don’t necessarily mean “push yourself” in the academic sense, although it’s a pretty good idea to make the most out of an expensive education. I mean that you should be willing to pick up new hobbies and discover new interests. Try the things you’ve always wanted to try – sing in a choir, get politically involved, host a radio show, write a novel in a month, etc. There’s no reason not to try; if you decide it’s not for you, you can stop (and no one will think less of you for trying!).
+ Don’t be quick to judge others, and don’t get caught up in the little things. The little intrigues and scandals that are hallmarks of high school life don’t go away quickly, but appearance begins to matter less than substance sooner than you think. If someone has a good heart, if you enjoy someone’s company, if you’ll be a better person if they’re part of your life, don’t be afraid to reach out and make a friend. There’s nothing in the rulebook that says you can’t be friendly or decent to other people – and if this makes someone dislike you, that person probably isn’t someone you’ll want to spend time with.
+ Have fun, but be careful. You’ll have opportunities to explore possibilities that simply weren’t available to you as a high school student. Always remember to think things through, because every action has consequences. It’s hard to think through every decision, to consistently take the long view when the short term seems so attractive or fun – but it’s time to start doing so. People will frequently make stupid decisions around you; you’re not a robot, and you don’t need to automatically follow someone you don’t agree with.
In other words, don’t live recklessly just because you understand that you will “fall down” at some point – simply make the commitment now to be a resilient and adaptable person when circumstances call for you to step up.
+ Everybody hurts sometimes. It’s impossible to live a life that never feels the bite of sadness, loss, failure, or disappointment. It’s part of growing, but it’s also part of living; all of your parents understand what I just listed. Don’t surrender when pain or sadness descend; remember your own strength, and remain faithful to yourself.
+ Greet the world with an open mind and an open heart. A willingness to listen, learn, and analyze is one of the greatest qualities. You have the right to listen to people and ideas and decide whether you agree. Don’t simply reject things based on what you’ve heard, or even what you were taught; take advantage of your gifts and learn for yourself.
+ Always remember the wonderful things. It’s so easy to forget everything that’s good in the world, and everything that’s good in your life. Every so often, I get caught up in obsessing over drudgery – and forget to see the forest for the trees. Instead of worrying about the crack in my windshield, I should be grateful I can afford insurance for my car. Instead of worrying about the way others see my friends and family, I should be grateful I have people I can call “my own.” However, every so often, I realize that I’ve taken these wonderful things for granted. When I do, I try not to feel too guilty for the rest of the day; I concentrate instead on being thankful that I’ve realized what I’ve done in time to appreciate the things I have anew. Those are good days. So don’t feel guilty – be happy.
+ You are your own person. You choose your friends, your classes, your food, your habits. You’re getting a fresh start. Take advantage of it. Establish yourself intelligently, and don’t make a bunch of commitments you can’t honor or decisions you can’t live down. Live a life you can be proud of – you’re calling the shots, and that responsibility is a wonderful gift.
You have a chance to become any type of person you want to become.
Who will you decide to be?
I trust you to remember the most important message – that the time is always ripe to do the right thing – and to summon the courage to choose what’s right over what’s convenient.
I trust you to love others and yourself without fear of rejection, and to build a life you’ll love instead of a life you’ll accept.
I trust you to sympathize with people despite differences that threaten to separate the two of you. Remember compassion – it’s what makes us human.
I trust you to relentlessly pursue self-awareness and understanding, and to never be satisfied and comfortable with ignorance.
I trust you to remain gentle and kind in your dealings with others.
I trust you to be thankful for your fortune and privileged place in history.
I trust you to heal the wounds of the past and carve the path to a better future, to give your children a better world than your parents gave you.
I trust you to remain curious and in love with life.
I trust you to be part of a generation worth following, a generation worth hope and excitement, a generation worth fighting for, a generation worth writing about – a generation of leaders appearing when we need them most.
I trust you to live a life that will justify the applause and tears I’ll give you on the 13th, that will justify the bittersweet sting of joy laced with loss.
I trust you to make me proud.
I believe in you – every single one of you. Every one of you has gifts and talents I wish I shared, and I’m privileged to have enjoyed the opportunity to share this year with you. I’ve traveled a long, confusing road, and everything I’ve experienced during the first twenty-three years of my life somehow led me to a city I’d never even heard of before 2007. I couldn’t be luckier.
So, now that it’s come down to the end, I wanted to thank you.
Thank you for treating me fairly, honestly, and respectfully – even when I greeted a room of young adults with a hearty “Hello, children!”, or by wishing you “Good morning!” at two in the afternoon – and for your compassion and kindness each day.
Thank you for reviving my love of reading and learning, and for allowing me to begin a post-collegiate academic life on my own terms.
Thank you for justifying the time and energy I poured into this semester while the outside world frayed at the seams, and for buying into a course I worked so hard to create.
Thank you for allowing me to grow into the job on the job, and for forgiving my mistakes whenever they cropped up.
Thank you for providing me with a sense of stability – and identity – this year; it means more to me than you could possibly know.
And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending your final semester at Arcadia High as my student.
So here’s to good fortune and good stories, to stars and blogs, to the infinite promise each of you carries within yourselves. Here’s to the next few years – may they be some of the best years of your lives! Always remember that you are special, and that someone cares about you. I wish you the very best, and look forward to hearing from you in the years to come. I can’t wait to see the future you’ll create!
Good luck and safe travels, and keep your eyes on the stars.
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I wish this was said during class. I can't feel the emotion coming out of my computer. But it's cool, i've seen alot of emotions coming out of you this morning. Thank you for making my senior year a blast. Enjoy the gift, you deserve it.
I was too afraid I'd cry during third - you already weakened me with the card - so I backed off. I went for it during sixth period and broke down completely, which scared me away from doing even the version you guys got for fifth and second. So...feel lucky?
same here...I wish I was in period 6 so I could actually hear and feel that LAST inspirational lecture. Mr. Feraco, you are always a big talker, don't afraid to express what's in your mind. I bet we all want to hear what you had to say to us, for the very last time, for the very Last Period 5 !
Out of all my teachers from school, you are the only one who writes profusely and passionately! Thank you for all your advices and teachings! It's been a wonderful year. Thank you very much!
P.S. If you can combine the vocal skills from Coach O'Brien with your inspirational writing skills, damn you'll be the best teachers on campus. Albeit, you are one of the best already!
Thanks, Kelvin! As for becoming an O'Brien clone, there can be only one...
One more note, well, request.
Can anyone from 5th period send me your notes on the presentation notes? I believe I only need those people who went on the day that the Orchestra went to DisneyLand. Thank you. If you do, can you just post it on the blog, so other people from the period can also see it? Thanks again.
Ey man I'ma miss 5 period SFHP and I wish I was there to hear your speech? Heard it was inspirational but didn't get to witness myself. Thanks for being my last semester English Teacher; I learned a lot from you and I hope others next year will do so too. It just so happens you are the youngest teacher I've had every since Preschool to Senior year lol.
Do you need me to bring a tissue box by any chance??? i can drop it off during 5th period. By the way I will be coming by 1st period to sign your yearbook. This loyal spurs fan have to leave a fine print in your yearbook as a fine memory of your first year of teaching.
Yea, how'd you know I was sick? Been using like 80 tissues today..seriously.
I'm glad you didn't end up missing the final class...but I will never forgive Denver. Ever.
Vennie, post your notes man! Come on, help me out here please.
mr.feraco you made me cry!! no joke it was seriously water works at my desk. i loved it and could tell how genuine it was because thats just the type of person you are. i will be posting up your advice in my dorm room...thank you. But i can not thank you enough for being my last english teacher of high school it was an amazing class!!!
Sorry for the waterworks, but I'm glad you liked the words - and I'd be honored if you kept the advice in mind during your college years. (It's easy advice to forget...) Best wishes, and have a wonderful summer!
Mr. Feraco, are we going to turn in our books as a class tomorrow?
Mr. Feraco, have you gotten my email that I sent you today because I haven't got a response from you yet?
Mr. Feraco, i honestly feel you. One of the most legit teachers out there. It's not all about grades that you are concern of, and that's what set you apart from most teachers that i've had. In addition, you are also the only teacher that prevented me from the full effect of senioritis. Thank you once again.
I also protected you from the full effects of Ditch Day. Forgive me.
it's rather quite interesting when you look around yourself. hs has taught me a million things. a time not knowing a single person. a time living elsewhere, inconveniently. i've had to learn things the difficult way and i anticipate college to be just the same. i'm in for a lot, i know that, but i'm ready none the less. its inevitable that we make mistakes, follow the crowd one day, and rebel the next. goody two shoes? it paid off. that's it.
"Understanding grows from personal experience that enables a person to see and feel in ways so varied and so full of changeable meanings that one's self-awareness is the determining factor." -Virginia Axline (Dibs: In Search of Self)
you know what's funny? we inspire everyday without knowing it.
yea... i think i can live with that
You definitely inspire someone every day - and you're going to have a lot of fun at college! I've said it before, but I can't wait to see what you come up with...
I'm not going to lie, I went through about 3 years of high school pissed off and looking for any reason to be mad. So many times I felt restricted, desolate and despair as if nothing was ever going to look up for me. That all changed this year. Friendships helped me get through everything and getting into college really steered me back to an optimistic horizon. All the deep discussions in SFHP were interesting, they required an analytical standpoint which beyond what is taught in school. Mr. Feraco, your teaching is an art form in the making, much like fine wine. Give it a few years and it will blossom into something superb. I hope the future finds you with as much excitement and success as I see mine.
Eric - Everything you said about my teaching reflects what I would say about your poetry. Read up on the greats, keep pushing the limit on your own style, and just keep writing - you have greatness within you that's bound to get out. It's been an honor to watch you grow this year, and I wish you all the best.
Oh yeah and I forgot.. I've been saving my SMILIES ALL SEMESTER FOR THIS........
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
I wonder if this same thing will happen next year...
I Can't wait to have my last SFHP class, but at the same time, I hope it will never come to an end
see you ....in 7 hours, Mr. Feraco !
I agree with the alumni blog idea, and I strongly urge you to forward this post to the new blog because this is just simply incredible. This is truly from your mind, and I know fewer teachers who actually teach from what they experience rather than from textbook. I even think it presents me with a clearer, more inspirational and more useful lecture than any textbook, novel, worksheet that I have had for my entire high school life. I have never had anyone taught me so much about myself in just a single blog post.
This very last post sums up the entire purpose of SFHP.
It is about me; it talks about my potential; and most importantly, it talks about possibilities.
I never knew I have so many opportunities to be myself.
I never knew I am given so much hope and fortune from other people.
I never knew I could be a person that I desire to be rather than I accept to be.
I never knew that I am in the generation of hope.
I never knew I could have so much freedom on determining my future.
I thank you for trying to open up the truthful mind of us young adults.
I thank you for all the hard work you've put in for us.
I thank you for Inspiring me of whom i can possibly become.
I thank you for remind me of the good things around me instead of the negative ones.
I thank you for your trust and on my "humanity"
I thank you for the encouraging me to be courageous, mindful, and curious in life.
I thank you for wrapping up my last few hours in the class for Searching for human potential because in the end, I believe I have found my very own.
I have to give my best appreciation for all your effort to be our instructor for life. It's the tear of gratitude filled up my eyes, reflecting the truthfulness and message that you pass down to me.
Thank you for being my Last English teacher in Arcadia High
Thanks for the kind words, Henry - it's been a hard semester, but it's been a great one all the same. I'm glad I got to know both you and Catherine this year, and you have no idea how fun it was to watch both of you reshaping your writing on the fly this year. You were always a good learner, but your writing has improved by leaps and bounds - and that's one of the highest compliments I can pay a student. Thanks for joining the class, and I wish you the best of luck in the future.
I hate to see our class end like this
I really wish we had a party or something because we then could have more time to say good-bye to each ohter : [
Also we could have more time to all take pictures w/ you and write in your yearbook too.
Im going to miss you Mr. Feraco : [
Don't miss me - just write and visit! I'm always around...
As for the party, I'll shorten the presentations next year and leave some time at the end for general revelry. They can thank you for that, so make sure you claim credit!
See you soon, and best of luck!
Thank you, Mr. FC! I'm glad I ended everyday second semester with your class. There were many days where I was in a bad mood and often times, at the end of the day, I would leave your class in a good one. I would probably never think the same way nor be the same person had I not taken the second to choose "Search For Human Potential" for my second semester English class. You truly lived up to the title. You are also one of the very, very few teachers that have taught me life lessons and gotten me engaged in their class. I think you are also one of the few individuals I will have a hard time forgetting even if I tried. So thanks for making that kind of impact in my life and I enjoyed writing those blogs. Your questions always had me thinking or helped me express the thoughts that often lingered in my mind. Thanks again! I'll be seeing you around ♥
PS: I'm probably going to stop by every now and then to ask you how I can improve in my writing. English is going to be a killer in college...or so I've heard.
And I think more than half of our class had a hard time keeping it in. I know I did. I started crying like...a quarter way into your speech. Sorry about that...I am extremely sensitive...but I think it was good to get out of our system. Ha, ha. Anyway, thanks for all your advice again! I shall save that into my Gmail Documents just like I've been saving all our blogs!
Thanks, Priscilla! Good work on Mr. Pasqua's profile as well. Hope you're enjoying summer so far!
Yes, it was even more of a masterpiece before he removed some of the details that I added. I SAW YOURS, IT EXISTS! Why hide it from us, Mr. FC? [tears]
And my summer's all right. It's still frustrating but my frustrations will pass. Oh, I have a question to ask but I shall email you about it later.
Summer has been wonderful so far - everything that I hoped it would be. I finally have time to run (which is good, since I start assistant-coaching again in two weeks), and I'm starting to research philosophy on my own (since I never had the time to take any such courses during my time at Occidental) in hopes of incorporating more of it into next year's curriculum. Oh, and I've been sleeping, of course...catching up on some of the deficit I rang up over the past nine months!
I still check e-mail every day or so, so feel free to send me your question!
English can be a killer in college, especially if you have a professor with very rigid views about what constitutes "excellent" writing. You just have to figure out how to write in a way that makes you happy - then utilize your skills in order to tailor your style and content to the demands of the class (instead of navigating the ins and outs of a standardized grading environment). If you need any help (when the time comes), please ask for advice - although you should meet with your professor first, if that option is available to you.
If you're majoring in English, you may take multiple classes with the same professor(s) over the years, so take the time to meet with them (if you can) and foster good relationships. My English professors gave me marks that were all over the place - from As to B-s - but they came through for me when I needed recommendations, and I wouldn't be able to do any of this without them.
Anyway, to shorten all of that, don't worry too much about the English classes until you have a chance to get a feel for what your professor intends to teach you - and which skills he/she intends to see reflected in excellent work. (And if you need help after speaking with them, get in touch!)
hey mr. feraco!
the summer class at pcc had already started this week...
couldnt believe i juz graduated from high school last weekend...
today we had our first in class essay...
and the topic is about my teacher..
so i started putting my little pieces of memories together...
Wow, already? You got started quickly...but that's wonderful! Did you get to take the essay home to finish it, or was it due by the time you left? I'd love to read it...
Hey Mr. Feraco !
My summer school just started this week also...
It's been just 2 weeks since I was still a high school students, and now all of a sudden college English class strikes me righ on the head (sigh*).
My essay is creative topic of your choice from any short story given in class...I have to come up with my own prompt and support it. I'm so not used to it...college English is a killer
Any tip for such kind of essay? I have difficulty finding three or more supports from a "Short" story....
You can definitely write about the life of a growing man. Or, you can write about a fictional story of what life is like in the next 20 years. For example, the events that happened in I AM LEGEND and THE SUNSHINE. Yeah, I think the second idea is better because it will leads to creative thoughts.
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