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What in heaven's name is a dash and why should it count? 

We are born and then we die. But what really matters is what happens in between. By making a conscious choice to live our lives with passion and purpose, we can leave our mark on the world leaving it a better place than we found it.


The following is an address I made to the graduating seniors of Sarah's class at Westerville North High School on awarding her memorial science scholarship:



Did you know that Westerville North is a better place because you were here?  It’s true!  In one way or another you have left your mark on your school.  Whether that was through the arts, athletics, service or academics your being here has made a difference, because if you hadn’t been, Westerville North would be a different place. Think about it.


Sitting here on Senior Awards Night shows that you have lived your dash at Westerville North with passion and intent. For a few of you that dash is recorded with trophies and plaques.  For most of you, however; your dash is recorded in people’s memories of the athletic events, musicals, clubs, organizations, food drives and various classes.  For some the dash started in kindergarten or cub scouts.  For others it began in August 2002, your first day of High School and some who transferred here, even later.  Whatever the duration, your dash has made a difference to your school, your community your friends and your family.


Now to address the obvious question:


What in heavens name is a dash and how can punctuation make a difference?


Well, most of you have been at Westerville North from 2002 to 2006; 2002 dash 2006.  You can stick any set of dates in there: how long you have known your best friend, how long you have been on the track team. However, we are most used to seeing that dash on headstones.  A total life summed up in a dash. What we remember of people is summed up in one little dash.  Oh how large that punctuation mark is when you think of what it represents.


Consider the difference between these two dashes:

 Martin Luther King 1929 dash 1968 

Joseph Stalin 1879 dash 1953


Although each of these men were born and subsequently died, it is the dash that tells the difference of their stories, the difference in their legacies.


Look around.   As a class you share many of the same experiences: living through budget cuts, welcoming a new dynamic principal, winning this year’s North South Game, scheduling cutbacks the death of more classmates and friends than any teenager should ever have to experience.  How you connected with those experiences and how you reacted to those experiences; how you learned from those experiences, even THIS experience, is as unique as each of your dashes, as unique as you.


Think about your friends and your journey through north. Now, think how your journey to class reunions will compare?  Who will you be 5, 10, 25 years from now?  How will you live your dash?  Over the past year and a half,  I have given a lot of thought to the idea of time and living a life of passion.  We have little control over how long we each live, and as we learned through Sarah, we never know when our life will end, but until that time we have total control how we live our lives. I charge you…Live your life with passion.


When you meet 5 or 25 years from now, you may feel a disconnect  with your current friends as your lives have taken you different places. Whether you go to law school, join the military, teach, have children; whatever, you will all have one thing in common; you all will have had the opportunity to make conscious choices about your dash and how YOU can make a difference in this world. 


Cynics say that you are a passionless generation, who does not take stands, who cares more about their iPods than their communities. What do they know?  Prove them wrong. You each can make conscious choices to make a difference in this world. Leave your mark. Live your dash. Live your lives with passion: Live your ideals. As you have left Westerville North a better place, you have the chance to leave the world a better place.


I have one more dash to talk about: the hardest one for me to address. The reason I’m up here tonight is to award Sarah’s Science Scholarship.  Sarah Krause 1988 dash 2004.  Her life was too short but she lived her dash with passion.  Sarah lived her life with so much passion she drove many of you crazy. Remember? Whether it was Chemistry Class, Wicked, science Olympiad, orchestra, Finding Nemo, or the periodic table Sarah made an energetic commitment to life.  If it were not for Sarah….   Wait.  A show of hands, how many of you have a favorite element?  You know: the periodic table.  I would be remiss if I did not ask you to honor your classmate’s memory and choose a favorite. Live your dash by thinking about things you have never thought about.  As Dr. Seuss wrote and you heard this spring on this stage, “ oh the thinks you can think,” ………as you live your dash.


With this scholarship Sarah’s friends and family hope to continue to help her dash make a difference.  I am so glad that John, Anna and I do not choose the scholarship recipient, because it would have been a very tough decision.  Not only were many of the applicants Sarah’s friends, but each and every one of them would have been an excellent choice. Mr. Jackowski and a committee of teachers made this difficult decision. There is no question that this year’s recipient bubbles with science enthusiasm in the same way that Sarah did. There is also no doubt that she can achieve anything she sets as a goal.


We would like to congratulate Alissa O., who plans to study neuroscience at Smith College in the fall. I figure that in neuroscience the $2,006 scholarship will pay for about one semester’s books.  The committee is confident that you will live your dash through Smith as you work at fulfilling your life goals.


Not only is Alissa enthusiastic about science, but as Sarah drove many of you crazy with her unabashed enthusiasm, Alissa, you used to drive Sarah crazy.  We are proud to add you to her scholarship list.


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[…] who stood to speak At the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone From the Dashes | Making your Dash Count Sitting here on Senior Awards Night shows that you have lived your dash at Westerville North with […]

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