To my very first students:
I’d like to leave you with a story. It’s a short and simple one.
Once upon a time, a great American poet named Robert Frost penned a poem.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Years later another great author named S.E. Hinton wrote a book titled The Outsiders, one of my favorite novels of all time. I never got a chance to talk to you about The Outsiders, just as I never got a chance to tell you a lot of other magical literary things I would have liked to stuff into our last two months of school. However, I do have high hopes that maybe you were introduced to this great American classic in junior high. To jog your memory it’s about a bunch of American boys stuck in the socially-constructed life of violence. Read the book. You won’t regret it. Then, watch the awesome movie.
In Chapter 9, while struggling to breathe (that’s all I will say because you know how I hate spoilers) Johnny turns to Pony Boy and admonishes, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold…” In his dying state, the one message Johnny has for Ponyboy is to “stay gold.” Here S.E. Hinton is making specific reference to Robert Frost’s poem. You should go back and read and analyze the poem to contrive so many meanings packed into these two words. Meanings such as:
- Life is short.
- Change is inevitable.
- Carpe diem.
- Accept what is.
- Cherish the early experiences that shape you.
- Shine to your fullest.
- Everyone’s time will be up eventually.
My students, my last words to you are “stay gold.” Not just because I am Mrs. Gold, but because the message packed into the two words include everything I want you to know, everything I hope for you in your lives.
I love you. I love each and every one of you. Thanks for sharing your lives with me. Thanks for teaching me. Thanks for giving me one of your golden school years. I’ve loved almost every minute I’ve spent with each of you and the minutes that weren’t so hot, I still will cherish in my heart forever. You are all some of the best people that ever happened to me.
S.E. Hinton started writing The Outsiders when she was fifteen. That is younger than most of you. I challenge you to really think about that. Some of you might not bloom until later. I hope I can write just one mediocre novel before I die. I don’t know why some people can do things at fifteen that I am still working towards, but I will never stop trying to play catch up. And neither should any of you. You all have miracles to create of your very own. It might not be in writing. It might not even be in reading or speaking, but it will be from our three class principles: listening, learning, and loving. Your miracles will be something that comes from your heart. Teaching you all was a labor from my heart. I know I wasn’t perfect. In fact, I know I was far from perfect, but I am better because of each of you. Every one of you has shaped me into more of an S.E. Hinton than when I started as your brand new teacher. And, that is a miracle that I will never EVER forget. If any of us exist after this life, I will look for you. I will always be looking for you to tell you I love you and I believe in you, no matter what.