Dear Youth,

Kendrick Lamar to Soulja Boy–it’s all good, we suppose, true or false?

If they don’t hold you up, don’t let them hold you down. “Them” means anyone.

Charity begins at home, which is truth, so be true to yourself and to the heart that beats inside of you. Put yourself first, not so others will love you, but so that they will at the very least learn to respect you as you do yourself. And love can develop from true respect. Lust develops from disrespect. So to thine own self be true. You must be true–true to yourself. It may be tough because so many around you may not understand, but it’s up to you to keep your head held up to the sky.

You see, for billions of years, the sun has never taken a day off. It doesn’t come up or down; it just stays in the sky, shining bright above the clouds, even as clouds rain. As the Earth spins every night, it waits for you to come around, allowing you to get some rest, hoping you’ll say “good morning” when you see it again, no matter what you’re going through. But think about it–the sun has never taken a day off in the billions of years since it has been created and will continue even long after we’re gone. The day the earth stops spinnings is the day the world ends, for that is when time stops. Everything was equally created, all at once.

Gravity is not meant to hold you down; it’s simply there to keep you grounded so you remember where you started in case you get lost. So in case you get lost, use your GPS (God Positioned Satellite). It’s what grown folks do when they reminisce, when they wish they were your age. This is the time in your life that you won’t get back, for better or for worse. It’s when memories get made. So don’t rush to get older or become a copycat of what’s cool, because in the long run, cool things fade out. Do you even remember when Soulja Boy was cool? Better yet, is he anymore? Ask yourself who’s cool. Exactly.

The only thing that is true is that we cooler heads prevail. The game of life is checkers, not chess. Those who play checkers win, but most times, it is only for the short term. But if checkers players are smart, they learn from their own mistakes and from the mistakes made by those who have gone before them in order to develop their game . The game of life where everybody wants to win and nobody wants to lose or die.

The point is to learn as you win and as you lose, but the challenge is to minimize the loss. That’s why the old phrase goes “three strikes, then you’re out.”

As a young person, play checkers, but study chess. Chess players can beat checkers players nine times out of 10 … the question is, how bad do you want to win?

To win, you must sacrifice and learn. Work hard and play hard. The secret to attending school is learning how to learn and constantly challenging yourself to get better each year. Evolving is a practice you should carry into your own life even after the school bell has rung. Learn and work, even when it comes to your least favorite subjects. Graduate each year, even after school. Work and evolve within your personal life, so when you get older, you continue to learn. Use your brain, but also learn to work with your hands, because actions speak louder than words and just like a ghost, you’ve got to see it to believe it. Now get out there and do it, for better or for worse. It’s your responsibility.

Congratulations to the class of 20-till!