Pep Talk: “Never Let It Rest”

June 4, 2017

The view from the stage was inspiring. The Evie Garrett Dennis campus community room was packed with eighth-graders from Omar D. Blair School. It was their “Continuation” ceremony. Many family and friends of the Denver Public charter school in  the Mile High City’s Green Valley Ranch area had shown up to wish the kids well as they moved on to high school.

Your knucklehead scribe was blessed to have the opportunity to give the teenage scholars a Pep Talk about the big move. While sitting facing the kids and waiting to share, for whatever reason, my mind wandered to a sobering statistic read recently in the Denver Post about the Centennial State’s graduation rates.
According to the eighth “Building A GradNation” report, Colorado’s high-school graduation rate was 77%. Six points below the national average and about 1.5% lower than its 2016 grade. According to the study, Colorado’s seventh LOWEST in the nation. Not good.
The school leader introducing me was wrapping up comments when the graduation numbers zipped through my brain. I hope the kids, in enduring 15 minutes of “Following your passion, working hard, making healthy choices and showing respect for others” encouragement, heard a nugget that will stick.
Earlier on this day something sure stuck with me. While playing in a charity golf tournament for a high school baseball team, a foursome partner, upon learning of the event, offered: “Challenge those kids to have AT LEAST one more graduation.” Amen, dude.

Another member of the foursome immediately followed with something that didn’t just stick, it knocked my socks off. “Southpaw,” barked Bill McCartney, the former University of Colorado and Hall of Fame college football coach, “Tell the kids this: Good, better and best; never let it rest. Till their good is better and their better is best!” Double amen.
I threw that gem into closing remarks. Thankfully at the end, the whole crowd, scholars and supporters, was enthusiastically shouting that wonderful refrain. It was cool to encourage those gathered in the packed auditorium to believe in a simple, but not easy, life task: There is always room for improvement.

“Good, better and best, never let it rest….” Where might that mantra apply to us? I shared about interviewing, during a long television sportscasting career,  basketball legend Michael Jordan. It was impressive, when the Chicago Bulls played in Denver, to observe the six-time NBA champion. He was always the last player off the court after practice. The best player in the game always embraced the value of hard work. Many of the kids’ mouths dropped wide open when reminded, “Jordan was cut from his ninth-grade basketball team.”
It was fun debating future high schoolers about who was better. Jordan or Cleveland’s LeBron James? Everybody had an opinion. The point was to emphasize Jordan’s devotion to hard work. Regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socio-economic status, let’s never let it rest. 
Till OUR good is better and our better is best. Everybody will benefit. Especially kiddos we’re trying to influence!

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