Grads: A handwritten note, not an emoji, is appropriate

Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy told graduates Monday that a handwritten note would be the best way to thank those who supported them. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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Terry Murphy, president and CEO of Bayhealth, Inc., mixed doses of humor with sage advice Monday night at the Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus commencement ceremony.

To prepare for his speech, he met with six graduating students, asking them why this was a defining moment for them, who had made a difference in their lives and what were the qualities of those individuals.

One was the mother of seven children and the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Another had to wait 10 years to finish her education because she had been caring for her grandmother.

One woman, he said, had a son who had died at the age of 5.

“She never actually thought that she would have joy again after something so horrific,” said Mr. Murphy. “But being here today, in this defining moment, she has a tremendous amount of joy — and that’s a big deal.”

He spoke of a professor who pushed a student to finish and helped her with a summer program.

Another student, he said, shared the story of his mother’s death earlier in the school year. Mr. Murphy told of how persistent she was and that she said to him, “You can accomplish anything.”

“Each of you have those people around you that have taken an interest in you,” Mr. Murphy said. “Take the time personally to thank those who made a difference in your life.

“Listen to me very clearly,” he said.

“I do not mean send them an email, or text, or an emoji, or a gif, or tweet. Don’t do that. And don’t send them a picture of a yourself as a cat or a baby.

“As it was mentioned, I have three daughters so I see these things all the time. Take the time to send those people who have influenced you a hand-written note.”

In closing, he spoke of encouragement, determination, compassion and support for others.

“These are the resounding qualities of great people,” Mr. Murphy said. “If I have one message to leave you with, it is that the future will absolutely belong to those of you that tap into those qualities. it will be the foundation for you to do great things.”

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In April, the Delaware State News reported on the St. John’s Lutheran Church’s decision to close its school in Dover.

At the time, Principal Dina Vendetti was leading the students in one of its annual fundraising efforts — this time a goal of $2,100 to help pay for a month of stays for a family at the Ronald McDonald House.

The kids came through, Ms. Vendetti said.

“As a result, of course, I will be required to make good on some crazy promises,” she said in an email Thursday.

“On May 31, I will be standing out on Walker Road in the morning in a Ronald McDonald costume and waving to the traffic going by our building. It’s a good costume, too!”

She said students of the St. John’s school will line up at 9:30 a.m. for an opportunity to “pie” the principal.

“They will be tossing pie plates filled with whipped cream at me and having a rip-roaring good time,” she said.

With the school closing, it is the last in a long line of annual service projects.

Over the course of 18 years, the school raised more than $75,000 for people here and around the world.

Each year to motivate the kids, Ms. Vendetti offers students a chance to toss things at her — paint, pies, sponges – and she promises to wear crazy costumes and wave at passing cars.

Last year, she donned a llama costume after students raised $3,000 to support children at a mission in Peru. Those funds paid for five Peruvian students’ school supplies, food and Bible study needs for a year at Castillo Fuerte — translated, Mighty Fortress.

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