When the first-classmen and women of Culver Upper Schools walk through the portal to officially graduate Friday morning, they should “do so proudly” and remember how much they have accomplished in their short time on campus.
Eric Burns N’73, the former president of the Culver Summer School Alumni Association, and the father of four summer school graduates, told the boys and girls gathered for their First Class dinner Sunday evening they have accomplished much in just 18 weeks over three summers.
They have learned to follow, then learned to lead. They have worked hard to reach their goals, tested their limits, and achieved great things – individually and as a member of a team. They have “earned” the self-confidence they have developed while at Culver, he said, and they should be willing to “bet on yourself every single time.”
Burns asked everyone to look at the people seated around them. Because these people – the friends they have made at Culver – will be some of their best friends for life, he said.
Burns’ youngest son, Christian, died as a passenger in an automobile accident on May 31, 2016. Christian never graduated from high school, but he did graduate from Culver in 2015. In the photo the family has of Christian touching the top of the portal, they can see the pride and joy on his face.
It was at Culver that Christian developed his “One More” attitude. It was one more repetition in the weight room, one more hour of studying, and there was always one more friend to be made, Burns said.
After Friday morning, the new graduates’ relationship with Culver changes as they join the more than 11,000 summer alumni as members of the Culver Summer Schools Alumni Association. And there are several ways they can make a difference. First, before even graduating, they can talk with the second and third classmen and women about the importance of returning. As new alumni, they can stay connected through social media, work at summer camp, and contribute – even a small amount – when asked.
And remember, he said, “We are all proud of you.”
Photo: Senior Counselor Greg Fontaine and Eric Burns N’73 (upper right) with the first-classmen from Naval 1. Burns and his three sons were all members of Naval 1.