Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry for our “If I’d Only Known” grad contest. We loved reading the inspirational advice that is great for everyone to live by, not only grads. We also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the photos of parents from their high school days. A panel of Pear Tree judges chose the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners from the top 10 most voted and the results are…

BenjaminOur first place, grand prize winner is … ‘Be Open’ by Pamela.

The idea of graduating from high school and setting off for college can be filled with conflicting emotions. All at once you’re sad to be leaving friends while excited at the prospect of meeting new ones. Nervous about leaving home and yet thrilled to be striking out without Mom or Dad monitoring your every move. And even though you can never really return to the same role of “dependent child,” you don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. In fact, I would advise you to not even declare a major until you have to.
Move forward with an open mind and a heart filled with exploration. Never again in your life will your slate be as clean as it is today. Take a dance class even if you can’t climb stairs without tripping. Talk to strangers. Ask questions in class. Volunteer for an organization you’ve never heard of. Take up a cause. Keep a journal even if you feel you don’t have time. Consider an overseas study.
More than anything else, have fun! You have the rest of your life to be a serious adult. Discover who you’re meant to be without being untrue to whom you’ve already become.

Pamela talks about trying new things, get involved when you would normally shy away and to always have fun – wonderful advice! Congratulations to you and to your son, Benjamin (photo above), for winning $1,000!

Our second place winner is ‘Dear Baby Boy’ by Debra.

As you’re getting ready to march at graduation with the rest of your Class of 2012 classmates, I’m reminded of my own high school grad night 30 years ago & can’t help but wish “If I’d Only Known Then What I Know Now.”
I would have had a plan for myself – not just happen to get lucky enough to find an office job. I would have gone to college right after high school, instead of later while working full time, then eventually while pregnant with your “exceptional” big brother and only getting an AS Degree instead of the MBA I’d envisioned, because I got enrolled in the School of Exceptional Parenting’s Accelerated Program instead. That way, while facing the 2nd half of my life, I wouldn’t have to worry about not having enough education to get a good job after being out of the work force for 15 years; I wouldn’t have to think or worry about finding the money to send both you AND me (back) to school at the same time.
That is why, my Baby Boy, ever since Kindergarten I’ve been talking with you about your future -that it was important to be a good student right from the very beginning, to establish good study and learning habits and skills when you’re young – to embrace learning. And along with that, give good thought, day dream even, about what you wanted to be when you grew up, and to think big because the world was yours to explore and experience.
Well, my Baby Boy, it appears you did indeed hear me, for you are graduating high school with honors and you will be attending one of the best engineering schools in the US starting this fall. I am, your father, too, we are so very very proud of you – you have worked hard and it has paid off – and there is a life lesson in that all by itself.
One thing is certain: years from now when I look back on how I raised you, worked with you, supported you, and showed you right from wrong, I know I won’t think “If I’d Only Known Then What I Know Now.”

Debra shares her advice to embrace learning and good study habits to set yourself up for success. You couldn’t be more right, Debra. Congratulations, your grad, Ian, won $100 towards graduation product!

Set your goals, then go for themAnd our third place winner is ‘Set your goals, then go for them!’ by Lisa (photo shown).

You only live once, and you only attend high school once. So, have no regrets. Give it your best and make it your best! Create your bucket list and plan for your future by setting specific goals for yourself. Determine exactly what you want to accomplish – academically, athletically, personally, and of course fun memories, too. Then go for it!
High school is your very first resume. Believe it or not, how you act and who you are in high school is how you will be remembered forever by your classmates. Be sure you are considerate and friendly with everyone. You never know who will enter your life somewhere down the road. High school is your foundation and practice for the real world. It is a very competitive world, so set yourself up for success!
Accomplish your goals, and continue to plan for your future as you follow your dreams and passion. Have no regrets. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams!

Her advice is a great way to live by. Create goals to set yourself up for your future. Congratulations, Lisa you won $50 towards your daughter’s graduation invitations!

Thank you again to all the participants of our “If I’d Only Known” grad contest and to the class of 2012.