"Isn't it Strange that Kings and
Queens and clowns that caper in saw dust rings and common
people like you and me, are builders of eternity - each
is given a bag of tools a shapeless mass and a book of
rules and each must build or life is flown - a stumbling
block or stepping stone."
Good evening, and welcome. It is an honor to be here
with such a fine group of graduates at Miami Lakes Technical
This school has a history of being one of the best technical
education centers in Florida. You know, it's interesting
when we talk about history, because history is all very
relative in the great scheme of time. Recently The Travel
Channel ran a piece about a church in England, where services
have been held every day since the church was built. Every
day, that is, for the last nine hundred years. That's
a lot of history.
Now, definitely Miami Lakes Tech doesn't go back nine
hundred years. But it has witnessed 4 presidents from
Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton and 6 Governors from Ruben
Askew to Jeb Bush.
Miami Lakes Tech, as a school, has a history all its
own. And it's important, when we speak of history, to
remember that it happens because of people like yourselves.
Sometimes we tend to look at historical events as larger-than-life
happenings, forgetting the role of the people who were
But history is made up of the actions and thoughts of
dynamic, vibrant people like our graduates. The American
Revolution would not have happened without the involvement
of common people such as Crispus Attucks, Paul Revere,
or Betsy Ross. The White House, in itself, is just a building,
but for this history of people like George Washington,
dolly Madison, Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy.
Likewise, Miami Lakes Tech is the product of dynamic,
vibrant people like the center's first director, Dr. M.
Gene Stansell was assigned total responsibility for planning
the new school, which opened its doors in February, 1976
to 400 students
Dr. Stansell dedicated himself to the proposition of
making Miami Lakes Tech into the best educational facility
possible. Under his direction, the school increased its
enrollment from 400 to 2,000 students. Classes were added
so that students could attend in the evening, on either
a full-time or part-time basis. And several off-campus
locations were added to serve the community better. Dr.
Stansell knew that in the context of History, "he
only had a minute...sixty seconds in it, it was to be
forced upon him/ He couldn't refuse it/ He didn't seek
it/ He didn't choose it/ But it was up to him to use it/
It was a tiny little minute/ But eternity was in it."
In this minute, in this moment in time, we find Mr. Noward
Dean, the center's current principal, who has held the
position since 1986 and for those 13 years, I'm sure Mr.
Dean will agree with me, he and his team also have provided
Miami Lakes Tech with a lot of history! Mr. Dean believes
that "team work make the dream work" and under
his direction, many new programs have been added to provide
training in a variety of industrial and technical areas.
The Toyota program is a shining example of one of many
of the center's successful programs, training students
not only in automotive service and collision repair, but
teaching them specific techniques required by the Toyota
The skills learned here will increase the opportunities
available to students as they look for meaningful, productive
work. Some of those who are graduating have already been
offered full-time opportunities and that is a fine compliment
both to them and to this school.
The great success of Miami Lakes Tech has been made possible
not only by the hard work of Dr. Stansell and Mr. Dean,
but by the efforts of many fine instructors and administrators
and thousands of dedicated parents. They share something
that those other figures in history had, the same thing
that motivated Crispus Attucks, Betsy Ross, Woodrow Wilson,
and Dolly Madison, and that thing is commitment.
All of the students and parents, educators and administrators
shared a commitment to make Miami Lakes Technical Education
Center into a fine school. And for that, their names are
rightly included in its history.
Commitment is the fuel that will drive our graduates,
on to great things as they venture out to pursue higher
education or enter the world of work. To the graduates,
only a true commitment to being the best you can be will
see you to your goal.
A final note about history: much of it hasn't been written
yet. In a very short while, we will turn the page to a
new millennium, with a new century of history to write.
And you can be a part of that by committing yourself to
your education and to your work, by dreaming big and working
hard to bring those dreams to fruition. You will have
opportunities to give back to your school and to your
community, and if you are generous with your talents &
your gifts, blessings will come back to you many times
To the graduates of the class of '99, good luck and to
all best wishes. You have made your families and your
community proud of you, and we look forward to hearing
of your future success.
My last point in my closing remarks come in the form
of a story I once heard about a "Lily".
Someone observed a beautiful Lily growing in the middle
of a garbage dump and asked the question,
"Lily, how can you grow in the midst of such a stagnating
and stench-filled mess?"
The Lily replied, "Because my roots strive, thrive
and are alive below the mess,
My head rises above the mess,
My slender stem grows and glows through the mess,
So even though I'm in the mess, I'm not a part of
Graduates when you are not a part of the mess - you are