IWA’s Vaughan: count the pebbles you collect in life

Published 12:41 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Graduating his final class at Isle of Wight Academy after 47 years as headmaster, Benjamin Vaughan treated them to “one more story.”

It was of a young man walking down a beach by himself, who stumbles upon a mysterious old man. The old man tells him to pick up pebbles and put them in his pocket, predicting that the next day, when he looks at them, the young man will be happy, then sad.

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The young man, confused, pockets a few pebbles. When the morrow comes, he looks and sees that they’ve turned to diamonds. He is happy, but then sad, realizing that he should have picked up more. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“Pick up as many pebbles as you can every day,” Vaughan said to the class of 2017. “Tomorrow morning, after I have finished my last official event here at Isle of Wight Academy, I’m going to look in my pockets, and I will find precious jewels of laughter, friendships, shared experiences … and I will realize that I am one of the richest men on earth.”

Fifty-eight students donned in red and white graduated from Isle of Wight Academy Friday evening, 11 of them having attended the private school for 12 years or more, and 29 graduating with honors.

Salutatorian Amber Edwards spoke to her classmates about what she had learned during her time at IWA, including that “Calculus is witchcraft,” and procrastinating is always a bad idea.

“We’ve all learned that the terrible pictures we took in middle school will come back to haunt us at some point,” she added.

But one of her most important lessons was that “family goes beyond the people that have your DNA,” and now included her friends graduating with her.

“We’ve grown together,” she said.

Valedictorian Peyton Baylous also touched on the importance of family in her life and the lessons she’s learned at IWA, including the importance of listening to differing opinions and opening up to others.

She said she has also learned that life is not always perfect, fair or easy.

“But that does not take away how unique and amazing life can be,” Baylous said.

Graduation is both a beginning and an end, continued Baylous, and that can be scary, but also exciting.

“Each of us truly has the ability to do or be whatever we want,” she said. “There is never too big or too small of a goal.”

Baylous ended her address with a quote by Walt Whitman: “That you are here — that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“It’s time to go out and contribute our verse,” Baylous said.  {/mprestriction}