Julie Terry Delivers Commencement Address at Chinook High School Graduation
May 26, 2021
The twenty-seven students from Chinook High School who graduated on May 23 selected a white rose as their class flower; orange, black, and gray as their colors; a Dr. Seuss quote as their motto; and Mrs. Julie Terry as their commencement speaker.
Terry, who is wrapping up her sixth year as an English teacher at Chinook Junior/Senior High School, earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Evangel University in 2006 and a Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2018 from Montana State University-Bozeman. At her graduation ceremony, she was named an Outstanding Graduating Graduate by the College of Education, Health and Human Development from the Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Program. She achieved those accolades while teaching full-time, since she started in the district in August of 2015. Currently, she holds a Class 1 (Professional Teaching) License from Montana's Office of Public Instruction.
Prior to accepting a position in education, Terry worked in the oilfield industry, so she brings thirteen years of business and management experience to her present work. Being a licensed foster parent and a mother to teenagers gives added perspective to her teaching position. To ensure that she is serving her students, Terry continually seeks out professional development and mentorship.
Delivering the Commencement Address isn't Terry's first occasion to celebrate the class of 2021. She also spoke at their eighth grade graduation. "They were my first crop of seventh graders, so we spent a lot of time together in the classroom. I was also their junior class advisor. They're pretty special to me," Terry said.
On Sunday, Terry referred to the group as "the first born" of her teaching career, saying: "We started in seventh grade together." She went on to speak about their competitive nature, recalling how the boys' basketball team chose "Legends" as their walk-out song during the last season, calling it a metaphor for this group.
"At every turn-spirit weeks, class competitions, athletics-you have been hell-bent on being the best, on being remembered, on being legendary. I have always admired your desire for greatness," Terry told the class on Sunday.
She went on to describe personal excellence as a worthy goal and encouraged the graduates to continually work to be and do better, to never settle for mediocrity, and to maximize their potential through diligent practice and commitment.
"But, I've learned that there is a level of legendary that far exceeds the mere admiration of others for their untouchable talent. . . . The true legends in our lives are the ones who showed up and helped out. The people who made us feel special. The people who mentored, encouraged, loved, and inspired us to be better versions of ourselves. These people come from all walks of life; from all professions, from all levels of natural ability," Terry said.
She went on to encourage the class to become the kind of legend that finds a purpose and works in service to others. "To leave a legacy is to be present and involved in the lives of those around you. People remember how you made them feel. People remember encouraging words, kind gestures, and a helping hand in times of need. . . . [So,] as you go about the business of building foundations for your life, searching for a purpose, discovering your passions, forming relationships, and developing the self-discipline to do hard things, remember this: regardless of the path you choose to follow in your life, there will always be opportunities to give back. Take them. Be an active part of your community. Mentor someone. Volunteer. Why? Because life is richer when you contribute to something greater than yourself."
As the graduates move on to the next phase of their lives, Terry's words will likely touch the class, providing the inspiration she hoped to instill and leaving their own legacy.