‘Road Not Taken’ has lessons for grads

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“The Road Not Taken” is a poem written by Robert Frost. It is about a traveler who comes to a fork in the road. Unfamiliar with the roads, the traveler must make a choice. The closing two lines are: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

As graduation day rolls around, local seniors from Chesapeake, Dawson-Bryant, Fairland, Ironton, Open Door, Rock Hill, South Point, St. Joe and Symmes Valley will be ready to travel the road that is known as life after high school.

You have life choices to make. College? Trade school? Business College? Military? Marriage? There are even more options not mentioned.

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The choice you make will affect the rest of your life. Make a correct choice and your years on this earth will be happy and productive. Make the incorrect choice, and it will seem like you are in a deep rut you cannot escape.

Let me share with you my own experience, graduating from Dawson-Bryant High School in 1965. I began as a freshman at Dawson-Bryant enrolled in business education, but by my junior year I switched to general education.

I did not apply myself as I did later in life. My grades were so-so, not high and not low. This would cost me dearly.

In the spring of 1965, several colleges showed interest in offering me an athletic scholarship, among them Marshall University, Ohio University, Morehead State University and Wilmington College.

Unfortunately, after looking at football film, they would look at my high school transcript. Not one school felt I was worth the risk. Several offered me the option to enroll at my own expense.

If I successfully completed my freshman year, an athletic scholarship would then be offered. I was unable to raise the necessary funds. My athletic career was over at 18.

What did I do? I began work full-time as a hod carrier. I mixed mortar and carried brick or block for a brick mason.

I enrolled at the then Ohio University Branch housed in the old Ironton High School. Working a 40-hour week in the hot sun or cold weather, using my back caused me to re-think my study habits. I finally applied myself to good study habits.

Four years later, I had earned a degree in elementary education from Ohio University. By 1977, I had earned a master’s degree in school supervision from Marshall University. I would go on to take 60 additional graduate hours.

In 1999, I retired from public education with 32 years service. Along the way, I worked for Rock Hill Local Schools, Dawson-Bryant Local Schools, Ironton City Schools, Green Local Schools, and the Lawrence Educational Service Center.

I have written two books, “Coal Grove Hornets Football: The OVC Years 1954-91” and “Coal Grove Hornets Football Record Book 1928-2002.” My life after high school has been a full one.

My message to you, the high school graduate, Class of 2009, is simple. Choose wisely and apply yourself to whatever choice you make.

Do not be afraid to seek the advice and counsel of others. The choices you make today will affect the rest of your life.

Good luck, Class of 2009!

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.