10 Things I Want Students to Know as they Start the New School Year

Today marks the beginning of the new school year for public school students in Hillsborough county. I live, work and play in this county and according to one of my favorite websites, Wikipedia, Hillsborough County Public Schools is the 9th largest public school district in the entire country. Crazy big!

On top of that, there are thousands of more private, charter, and homeschool students within our county borders, as well as thousands more college students who have already started back.

Pretty overwhelming, huh? Try driving on the roads around here when school lets out. 🙂

Since I work with students, these stats and the reality of the new year got me thinking. So I decided to write a short letter to all those who already have or are starting school today. Here it is.

Dear Students,

It’s that time of year again. Back. To. School. Some of you are indifferent, some of you are excited and others of you are disappointed. Regardless of your emotion, it’s here.

As I prayed for you this morning, it got me thinking: “What would I have wanted someone to say to me if today, August 25, 2015, was my first day back to school?” So I came up with a list of 10 things. Maybe one or more will stick out to you and challenge you as you start the new year.

  1. You are blessed to be able to receive an education. Millions of people all around the world do not have access to the schooling options you have and would give anything to be in your shoes. You have the opportunity to develop your mind. Your mind is incredibly powerful. Don’t see school as a necessary evil. Learn all you can. Don’t take it for granted.
  2. Do your best. Not everyone is an “A” student. That’s okay. But everyone can give their best effort.
  3. You are NOT entitled to good grades or preferential treatment. Life’s not fair. Others will get what they don’t deserve. That’s okay. Trust that hard work pays off and that there is more satisfaction in earning what you have. Don’t be lazy.
  4. Slow down and have fun! Enjoy the moments. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others or their achievements. Enjoy it. Laugh. Cry. Pause. Soak it all in. It will be gone before you know it.
  5. Figure out who you are. This is a life-long, evolving process. If you’re in college, you should be further down the road with this than a middle school student. But start asking tough questions now. What are your strengths? How has God gifted you? Then take classes and pursue a career around “WHO” you are. And always remember, your character is something you decide and incredibly important. Don’t let others tell you who you are. Don’t downplay it. While figuring out “who you were created to be,” make sure “who you are” is someone of high character.
  6. Get to know people who are different from you. Join a random club. Sit with someone new at lunch. Talk to people who look, believe and think uniquely. Learn to just “be” with people and enjoy them.
  7. Live passionately and love boldly. Be different. Don’t settle for mediocrity or blending in with the crowd. Be set apart. Serve other people. Say over and over again “life isn’t about me.”  
  8. Find a small group of friends who accept you for who you are and encourage you in your convictions. Where you end up can often be predicted by who you surround yourself with. Choose your friends wisely. Don’t worry about being the most popular kid or having everyone like you. Pursue good relationships.
  9. Respect and honor your teachers. They didn’t get into teaching to make the big bucks. They got into it because they care about teaching students. Don’t make them regret teaching. Make it their best year yet.
  10. It’s all about Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus, realize that no amount of fun or achievement in this life can fulfill the deepest longing of your soul. All of life will only become less meaningful the older you get without Him. Anyone can begin a relationship with Him. Even you. If you do know Jesus, my challenge for you is to make Him famous in your school. Honor Jesus with the life that you live and don’t let the school year pass without making sure your friends know about Him. Don’t beat them over the head with Bibles or become judgmental. But grow in your relationship with Jesus so much that others can’t help but want what you have. Let Jesus be at the center of your life.

It’s a new year. You future is not hindered by past failures or guaranteed by past success. Today is a new day.

I Believe in you!

Matt

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