June 3, 2013 To the Crittenden Class of 2013, Billions of years ago there was nothing. No planets. No stars.

Not even time existed. And then BOOM! Atoms formed. These atoms condensed into clouds of gas and then into stars. The intense heat and pressure fused the atoms together to form heavier elements. Eventually, the stars collapsed and exploded. The elements created by the star explosions scattered out into the universe forming new stars and planets and eventually our Earth. Over millions and then billions of years, the elements that make up Earth combined into more complex molecules: proteins, amino acids, DNA. These molecules eventually became us. Reflect on that for a second.....Go ahead, I’ll wait.... Through science, we know that we all come from the exploded remains of stars that were formed billions of years ago. We are all connected in this way. It’s not just humans. All of the plants and animals and insects and germs and every single star and planet in the entire universe are connected. You might have enjoyed my class. You might have not. But don’t confuse science class with science. Science is the best thing humans have ever done. My class is just the best I can do. I want to make sure you know how thankful I am that you were in my class. All of you. As you know, it’s my last year at Crittenden and you’ve made it special. If you felt you learned something of value this year, I am glad. I’ve done what I could in the best way I know how. If you did not, I apologize I was not the right teacher for you. Go into high school with an open-mind and don’t let this year ruin the next four. I can’t help but leave you with three last pieces of advice for high school and for life. 1. Define yourself. Your entire life you will work to create your identity. Your teenage years especially. If you do not define yourself, others will. They will look at you and decide you are a nerd. A jock. An artist. A musician. A gangster. They will look at how you dress, your skin color, your gender, your sexual preferences and the way you speak and they will tell you what you can and cannot do. They will tell you what class you should take, what music you should listen to, and what friends you can have. They will tell you whom to hate. They will tell you whom to love. But that’s what they say. That’s not what you are. It is up to you. You can be a jock and a nerd and a musician. You can hold multiple identities and draw strength from all of them. You will change and grow but it is up to you to decide how. 2. Build community. You go to high school as part of a community. The Crittenden community. Yours will change. You will lose friends and gain friends. Make wise choices. Find trusted teachers and coaches and make them a part of your community. Don’t only look for others like you but find strength in differences. You are strong alone but you are stronger as part of a community. When you fall, your community helps pick you up. When you rise, reach your hand back and pull your community along with you. 3. Don’t be a bystander. I mean this in two ways. As in life, you will get out of high school what you put into it. Try out for sports. Join the band. Sign up for clubs. Try things nobody expects you to do. (See point 1.) Play football and Dance Spectrum. Cheerlead and do the yearbook. Second, don’t be a bystander to injustice. You know by now to stand up when you see bullying, but the hardest time to do it is when the bully is your friend. Don’t let fitting in stop you from doing what’s right. I hope that in some way this 8th grade year has been as meaningful to you as it has been meaningful to me. Best wishes for high school and go make this world a better place. Should you need anything, I can be reached at 408.37BUELL and buellscience@gmail.com With my utmost respect and admiration,

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