Continued Letter of Advice From Former Student Bill Ryan

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Former student, Bill Ryan, left a note to the students of Park Hill. Ryan found himself celebrating his 40th graduation reunion with 125 other alumnus to the class of ’78. In the letter, he left words of advice.

“Dear Students of Park Hill High School,

During your recent Homecoming weekend, my class of 1978 celebrated our 40th graduation reunion. It was a splendid gathering. Our class numbered four hundred & seventy five individuals, with about one hundred and twenty five attending the festivities. You’re thinking, “Geez these guys are old.” We prefer to call it ‘mature’.

Having the opportunity to visit and reconnect with those people who were so instrumental in creating lifetime memories is a wonderful thing. Granted, some of those memories may not always be nice ones, but they are building blocks in our own character and future perspectives. And what you think is occurring now in your life will not always be. You will always be either affluent or struggling. That can change. You will always be healthy or unhealthy. That can change as well. There are ups and downs along the way. You need to be keenly aware of this. When you are down – you need to ask for assistance and never stop trying to improve the situation. Life, it goes by quickly. Relish every minute. It’s a zany topsey turvey ride; hold on and embrace it. Be kind and thoughtful and civil to everyone along your path. Cat Stevens, a popular musician from my era, had a lyric that goes, “Oh very young what will you leave us this time, we’re only dancing on this earth for a short while.” Believe it.

At our reunion we had a memorial table set-up for those no longer with us. There were thirty-four names on the list. Cancer, being the horrible killer it is, took the most. Automobile and/or industrial accidents accounted for a few. Two or three were by their own hand; one of whom was very very dear to me in school. I was saddened for them all, but totally shaken up by the one. I had no idea. I was crushed. It was senseless. I said a quick sincere prayer and rejoined the party. When the wind gets knocked out of you, hold fast – it’ll return. When you get knocked down, stay firm – and stand back up.

I encourage each and everyone to look forward with great anticipations and marvelous expectations. And I am not talking monetarily. I’m talking about peace and happiness. Love and appreciate yourself first. Understand what that means,” he said. “Learn and know who you are. If it doesn’t agree with you, change it – that’s all – just change it. Love and appreciate those around you next – everyone. Be involved. Keep active. Share. Care. Conquer today, look forward to tomorrow. Attend your reunions in the future and open your hearts. We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while.”

William S. (Bill) Ryan