Mrs. Burke’s Words of Wisdom


If I’m being honest, your generation has a lot to overcome. I cannot imagine how each of you has felt the last four years; being at the most emotionally vulnerable time of your life and living through a pandemic, a deeply divided country, worsening climate change, and many other heavy events. 

What I hope to impart to you is that each of you, as individuals, can absolutely make a difference in this world. I believe the world of smartphones and social media activism has brought news to our fingertips on such a regular basis that people are left feeling overwhelmed. In a quick scroll down a page, you can see ALL the problems in the world and ultimately feel less inclined to do anything real about it. How can one person do anything about ALL of that? What seems manageable for many is to post a story with solidarity for a cause, then go about the day feeling like a daily “making a difference” quota was met. What I feel is missing is complete buy-in on one issue. Quality over quantity, it is impossible for one individual to change everything, or to even care about everything, to expect this of people is simply unrealistic and exhausting. It cheapens the experience of actually being active for something in your life. 

So please, in the future, choose carefully, what do you care about? Focus on one or two things, and make them your passion. Don’t spread yourself thin by caring about EVERYTHING in a shallow way, choose what matters in your heart, go out in this world and commit yourself to it. Don’t attack people who don’t feel as strongly as you about a particular issue, instead, work to communicate with others, particularly people who do not agree with you, to try to pass on your passion to others. Accusing people of not caring or not being knowledgeable about something is not useful. Educating people about why change is necessary or why supporting something is essential, is the most important thing you can do with your time. Spend your time educating others and having honest, respectful conversations. 

As a history teacher, I feel like it is important to remind young people that the only thing that has EVER solved the issues in our world, is ordinary people who take decisive action. From what I have seen from many of you, I believe your graduating class has the potential to absolutely make this world a better place. To close, I leave you with the words of Robert Kennedy:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Thank you all for keeping me optimistic about the future.

-Ms. Burke