ESC Superintendent Ty Ankrom delivered a commencement address Friday to 10 students who completed high school while at the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility.
The text of his speech is below.
I visited family in Minnesota recently and while there, I witnessed 15 inches of snowfall in a little more than 24 hours. It’s about six weeks away, but I look forward even more to spring training and baseball season after winter in Minnesota.
I enjoy watching other sports but I find that baseball is a great analogy to life.
We all get multiple chances at bat. But just as we don’t know how many years we’ll get in life, we don’t know how many at-bats we’ll get. So it’s important that you take advantage of every day you have.
Some of your at-bats will be a hit and some will be an out. But as Hammerin’ Hank Aaron said, always keep swinging.
Each of you are here today because you’ve already accomplished something, working hard to graduate while incarcerated.
This is an achievement of which you can be proud.
A high school diploma sets you up for another at-bat, educationally.
Don’t let your surroundings stop you from pursuing avenues that help you grow and learn.
Ted Williams said, “No one has come up with a substitute for hard work” and that is especially applicable for you.
All of you have at least one strike. But you are not out if you keep moving toward home plate.
Wade Boggs said, “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us but the attitude we bring to life.”
Everybody makes bad choices. But that doesn't have to be your life. We all need to have hope. We all need to have goals. We all need to learn something new every day.
You will likely be thrown some curve balls. It’s a part of life. But how you react to them is what will set you up for getting a hit.
If I could give you some advice gleaned from my seven decades, it would be this:
Learn something new every day.
Studies show that by consistently educating yourself and trying new things, you’ll learn that you’re capable of change and growth, which keeps you open to new opportunities in life.
Almost two years ago I started using a language app to reacquaint myself with speaking Spanish and I am now able to engage in passable Spanish conversations with native speakers.
Don’t think of learning as a chore or that’s what it will be. Think of learning as another opportunity.
While not a baseball player, Fred Rogers was a wise man who encouraged kindness and exemplified caring. “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we're giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world,” he said.
I have been a member of Circleville Rotary for 27 years and with my fellow club members, I’ve helped my local and the global community through this service organization.
This is, of course, a volunteer endeavor. Taking part in service initiatives that help others makes me feel good. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
An article from Harvard Medical School, along with many studies, identifies gratitude as acknowledging goodness in your life.
Specifically, the article says that gratitude helps people improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
You may laugh at the idea of seeking — or finding — gratitude within these walls. But think of what you are doing today: Getting your high school diploma. Could you be grateful to a teacher? A classmate? A family member who encouraged you.
While many people value keeping a gratitude journal, being grateful can also be a mental exercise. Think about someone who has helped you and mentally thank him or her. Doing so on a regular basis may result in better health and more happiness.
Build your team
In baseball, you are assigned to a team. But in life you choose your team. Choose people for your team who will enrich you, encourage you and support you.
Some of those people are here today. Be grateful for their presence today and in your life.
Make friends with people who will help you grow as a person and be willing to help others on your team.
If I can leave you with a final quote about teamwork, it’s this by Helen Keller: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."