My wish for each one of them is that they continue their education by making some effort to see the world outside of Moab. My second wish is that they consider coming back some day to build lives and careers here.
I think it’s important for people who are raised here to get away at least for a while, to get a taste of the world outside of our valley. We are an insular little town, and while people from all over the world share our sidewalks, streets and natural wonders, there is no discounting the fact that it’s a relatively small team of players who run the businesses, sit on our governing boards and make Moab run the way it does. Anyone who leaves will soon discover that there are similar teams running cities and communities across the globe, but the differences make for learning experiences of their own. The change of playing fields can be the biggest education a person can get.
I say these words in no effort to discount the opportunities that Moab can offer to anyone whose heart finds a home here. Moab’s career field is full of choices and advancement, and employers need good workers who can be their ambassadors to the world.
The staff of teachers at the high school is a case in point, but sort of in reverse. Many educators have moved to Moab and brought their skills to our town and to our students. They have shared their knowledge of past lives and educational opportunities while also stimulating their passions for wanting to live here. Some of the teachers grew up here, some went away and returned after a few years, and many were raised in other areas across the map but felt a calling to live in Moab, at least for a while.
This year’s commencement speakers, Ed DeFrancia and Richard Jenkinson, are individuals who each carved a niche here based on their passions for teaching, career and place. They, like most of the faculty, have enlightened our students by bringing the outside world into Moab. And now they are ready to go out again, in some new form or fashion. Other teachers are also leaving, after giving their hearts to the very students who are graduating. We will miss them. And hopefully their spots in front of the chalkboard will be filled by new bright minds who are eager to inspire students and to also be inspired by what Moab has to offer them.
As I watch the graduates fly from their nests, my heart aches a little for what they will encounter. Will those graduates who move away find happiness and fulfillment in ways that Moab can’t offer them? Will our little town keep a place in their hearts that will be a beacon of security, enjoyment and value? Can our town build new and more opportunities that will make it a place worth coming back to?
I certainly hope so. Moab is a challenging place to live. Housing costs often outweigh income levels. Scores of people have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Many of us work our fingers to the bone for a portion of the year, only to twiddle those very same fingers in the winter wondering if cash flow will return when spring rolls around. But we are fortunate to have business growth here, especially as other areas of the nation are experiencing rising unemployment and dwindling jobs. Is the work here, in a service-based economy, desirable? Yes and no. Thank goodness the natural wonders of our area are enough for many residents to make it worth their while to live and work here, if only for a time, before seeking life and career advancement elsewhere.
Good luck graduates. Good luck to the teachers who are moving on. I hope you will always think of Moab as home. We will miss you when you leave, and we will welcome you when you come back.