Principal Dave Jagels began his address to Mountain View’s graduating seniors by relating a story about the Great Blondin, who invented the high-wire act. He said the story spoke to him about the journey that many of them had to take to reach where they are today.
In 1859, Blondin crossed Niagara Falls — a span of 1,100 feet — several times on a tightrope. Each time, he did it more daringly; once, he was blindfolded; another time, in chains; and another time, on a bicycle.
When he was about to cross the falls again, pushing a wheelbarrow, he asked a man in the crowd below if he really believed Blondin could do it. When the man said yes, Blondin then challenged him to get into the wheelbarrow.
"I love this story because it speaks so much to what we all have to do in life sometimes," said Jagels. "We have to get into the wheelbarrow. We have to leave what is safe and secure and take a risk. By [doing so], we have little or no control over what will happen. We are at the mercy of what life is about to throw at us. But by getting into the ‘wheelbarrow,’ what a fantastic view — regardless of the outcome — we are going to experience."
He said Mountain View students already have what it takes to make their way in the world. "You have the resolve, the character and the grit to be successful," he told them. "The stories you share about your lives and the obstacles you have overcome demonstrate that, in a way, you have already taken some of the first steps to being successful. You have gotten into the wheelbarrow."
Jagels said they did so in various ways, such as by leaving the comforts of their base schools, leaving their friends and family, quitting drugs or gangs or even leaving their countries and for a new opportunity in an unfamiliar land.
"Isn't this really what life is?" he asked. "Taking risks sometimes provides us with the richest experiences life has to offer us, [and] today is just the beginning."
People often ask Jagels what makes Mountain View so special, and the answer comes easily to him. "I say it is the epitome of what a school should be," he said. "You see it with our school's values of family, love and respect. You feel this motto lived out on a daily basis. You see it with the staff and their ability to develop your confidence, [as well as] your belief that you can and will accomplish what you set out to do."
In addition, he said, it’s something inside the students, especially the seniors. "You had it in you all along," he told them. "It just took a little self discovery for you to understand this. You will always have what it takes, as long as you believe in yourselves. Go, live life and fulfill the dreams you set for yourself."
He then quoted the late Steven Jobs, the innovative Apple CEO who changed lives with technology. "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently," said Jobs. "They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
In closing, Jagels urged the members of the class of 2012 to go out and "keep getting into the wheelbarrow. Let family, love and respect be some of the resounding values that help guide your life. Continue to think differently and believe in yourselves. We are so very proud of you and your accomplishments."