Parting Words of Wisdom

Nearly every day for the past three years I have read the “Words of Wisdom” first thing in the morning over the PA system. If I am not available to read the message, one of the Assistant Principals gladly reads the message. The “Words of Wisdom” messages are part of a character education initiative created by Project Wisdom and the purpose is to provide uplifting and thought provoking messages to encourage students to make positive choices. Some messages are funny and some more serious, but the most important aspect of the Words of Wisdom is that it gives both students and staff something to think about. The message begins the same way every day: “Good morning Lincoln High School. This is Mr. Carter with a few words of wisdom”; which is followed by a particular message. Then, the ending is the same as well: “With something to think about, this is Mr. Carter. Make it a great day… or not. The choice is yours.” I appreciate the daily message because it gives me the opportunity to speak to the students daily and it emphasizes my sign off on all correspondence, which is “Be Great.”

Prior to this year, I have not taken the opportunity to address the seniors at graduation. However, I felt compelled to do so after I read a blog post on Connected Principals by Jonathan Martin. He provided some excellent advice that really inspired me to address my seniors. At Gahanna Lincoln High School, we have fairly large graduating classes so it’s important to provide a respectful, professional, fun, yet expedient ceremony. With that said, we keep things moving!

As I thought about what I would say, I knew I wanted to use the same format as the daily Words of Wisdom because I thought the students would get a kick out of it since it would be their last time hearing it (some are quite thankful for that!). I wanted to give the students some practical and relevant advice that they can apply in every situation. Well, the reaction from parents, students, and staff was unexpected and I am shocked by the number of positive emails, phone calls, and requests for the speech. Following are my parting “Words of Wisdom” to the Gahanna Lincoln High School Class of 2011:

Good morning Class of 2011. This is Mr. Carter with a few parting words of wisdom. For just a moment, take a look around and see the powerful support system you have in your lives. Take a look at the sacrifice, love, care, and encouragement that has been given to you by those in the audience today. Now, look at each other. You’ve spent the last four years of your lives experiencing the ups and downs, successes and failures, joys and sorrows with the people sitting next to you. Cherish those moments. As you recess from this wonderful experience, here are a few reminders:

Remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
Gentlemen, open the doors for women and the elderly.
Ladies, be a lady… at all times.
Leave things better than the way you found them.
Stay current with events in your community and the world by reading.
Learn something new…. every day.

Forgive others and forgive yourself… often.
At times you will fail, but “no failure is ever fatal and no success is ever final.”
You are always being interviewed. Be mindful of what you say, how you dress, and how you treat others. You never know who is watching or listening.
“Pause before you post.” What you post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites is always public.
Take advantage of the technology that is at your disposal, but the best form of communication is voice to voice or face to face.
Take some time to unplug and connect with those closest to you.
Take advantage of each day you are given, for life is truly a gift.

With something to think about, this is Mr. Carter. Make it a great life…. or not. The choice is yours. Thank you!

Be Great,



  1. This is very nice, Dwight: I am so glad you went ahead and shared these thoughts, and I know they meant so much to the audience because they came from you, their principal!


    June 8, 2011
    • Thanks Jonathan for the inspiration! Your post gave me the push I needed to simply take 2 minutes or less to address them. We are very aware of our time constraints, so the format worked perfectly!

      Be Great,


      June 8, 2011
  2. […] everyday lives.  Along the same theme, Dwight Carter shares with the graduates of his high school Parting Words of Wisdom. This message was created based on the principles of a character education program currently […]

    June 22, 2011
  3. […] articles that might be beneficial for me as an administrator and for teachers in our building.  In Connected Principals, the blog entry, What My Students Taught Me, by Justin Tarte,  he presents 10 lessons he has learned […]

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  4. Lisa M said:

    For the past three years, my 5th graders and I have listened to the former, and now present, principal read the Words of Wisdom every morning. We discuss the message during Morning Meeting, the students really listen. Each year, at their celebration, one student in each class shares their original Words of Wisdom. It is enlightening, I love it!

    June 6, 2012
  5. Kerry Bolger said:

    The challenge always is to find something to say to graduating students that is relevant and meaningful but not the sam as what you said last year. Having had to address graduates in a primary and secondary situation for the last 24 years leaves me again looking for inspiration.Many thanks to Connected Principals and Jonathon Martin for sharing this wisdom.

    October 11, 2015
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