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Manhattan Beach Students Celebrate Graduation, Promotions

Jun 20, 2021 08:47AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

MIra Costa High School Graduation 2021. Photo via Tracey Windes.

Manhattan Beach schools this week celebrated in-person graduation and promotion ceremonies, capping off an unconventional school year hobbled by pandemic restrictions and complications. 

A total of 632 graduates received diplomas from Mira Costa High School, at a ceremony that was attended by hundreds of families in person, and also live-streamed for loved ones at home.

Promotion ceremonies at Manhattan Beach Middle School, Grand View Elementary, Meadows Elementary, Pacific Elementary, Pennekamp Elementary, and Robinson Elementary all took place in person as well. 

Mira Costa Principal Ben Dale, who is retiring this month, gave the following address to Mira Costa High School's Class of 2021: 

To the graduating class of 2021:

I’m reminded on this day, standing here as your principal, speaking to you directly for the last time, and also as a father who is proud of his daughter on her day of commencement, what my father told me before she was born.

He said, “Son...there’s four things you need to teach your child after they’re born.

1.How to chew sunflower seeds. Not one at a time, but put a handful in your mouth, shell it, eat the seed, and spit out the empty shell.

2.How to whistle. Both ways. Whistle a song, and whistle to get someone’s attention from far away.

3.How to throw a ball. We’re not all athletes but you will be called upon at least once in life to throw a ball. It’s good to look like you’ve done it before.

4.How to ride a bike.”

Now, this is where my Dad really went into detail: “You get them up on the bike, put their feet on the pedals while you hold on to the back of the seat. Once they sit there for a minute and get their balance, you gently guide them forward and tell them to start pedaling. As you get going faster, keep repeating: ‘keep your eyes up, and don’t stop pedaling.’ You see if they keep their eyes up and focus far in front of themselves, they will not fall over. And if they don’t stop pedaling, they can maintain a steady balance.”

His lesson on how to teach a kid to ride a bike stopped there, but the real lesson behind it has remained with me.

The phrase, “keep your eyes up, and don’t stop pedaling,” has become the daily guidance in my life, both as a husband, a father, a friend, and a principal.Keeping your eyes up in life, helps you focus on important things. The 10-year things. By keeping your eyes up you will not dwell on the 10-minute problems, or even the 10-day or 10-week problems. If you get enough balance in your life from keeping your eyes up, you may even master staying the course with 10-month problems.

So keep your focus out on the horizon as best as you can.If you go through life, and don’t stop pedaling, you will always stay upright. Continuous forward movement will guarantee you will never fall into complacency. Also, if you run into challenges or rough terrain, and you pedal through them with your eyes on the horizon, you will never get dragged down into tough situations.

Continuous forward movement allows you to get the most out of life, and feel fulfilled as a person. Stop pedaling, and you simply fall over.

As we all leave Mira Costa together, you and me, I hope we can all attack life with passion. Let’s all commit today to doing some things:

1.Do something good for someone else every day. Look for moments to serve. Find a way to lift someone else’s burden, offer an act of kindness, or say something to make someone else smile.

2.Learn something new. Look for situations that get you out of your comfort zone. Learn about cars, learn how to cook, learn how to play a musical instrument. Living a life of continuous learning will keep you engaged and interesting.

3.Finish something. If you start college, finish. That’s big, so start small finish your assignment, finish a class, finish a semester, finish a year, and before you know it: you’ll finish the big things. Start each day with a win by making your bed.

4. Keep your eyes up, and don’t stop pedaling.

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