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  June 24, 2000



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Learning never ends


By BRET 'THE HITMAN' HART -- For the Calgary Sun

 To all kids finishing up their last few days of school, some thoughts from Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

 Whether you're graduating from college or high school, I just wanted to say congratulations and welcome to the future. Your future.

 Far be it for me to impart any great wisdom or advice to you because I'm still mostly trying to figure life out, too. I think it's good to never stop trying to figure things out.

  I confess, I was never a great student. It wasn't that I was lazy, it was more the distractions of living in a big family. I had some teachers who were great and some who were lousy, which, I guess, is typical for most of you, too.

 One of the best was a little Scottish lady named Mrs. Gregory, my Grade 4 teacher. She was one of the nicest people who took a little extra time with me. One of the worst was my senior football coach who, because of his dislike for me, for reasons I'll never know, destroyed my dreams of playing pro football. I can't help but wonder what might have been.

 George Lucas said, "Dreams are very important. You can't do it unless you imagine it."

 He's so right but what I'd add to that is not to limit your dreams to what you think is attainable. Instead, always reach one rung higher. For example, I worked hard to become a great professional wrestler but I never dreamed I'd be champion of the world, five times over.

  Dream it, live it, do it. The higher you reach, the higher you'll climb.

 Believe it or not, in my early years, I wasn't considered the best athlete in school. In fact, when we did that sadistic little ritual in gym class where kids pick sides and the least popular or most clumsy kid is always the last one standing, well, that kid was often me. I guess the only good to come out of that humiliation is that it motivated me to work hard at athletics and to join the wrestling team in Grade 9. I eventually went on, through high school, to win the city and provincial championships numerous times.

 It's hard to believe that my youngest daughter, Alexandra, is graduating from elementary school. She's giving a speech to her class and I can't wait to hear what she has to say. I don't know why, but I suspect there will be something for me to learn in it. When I was graduating from elementary school, the year 2000 seemed like some far away time in the space age. Times are different and kids are smarter about lots of things at a younger age, but I think kids today aren't all that different. I listened to the Monkees and raced home from school to watch the Flintstones; my daughter listens to N' Sync and races home to watch The Simpsons.

 And my oldest daughter, Jade, will graduate from high school next year.

 Seems like just yesterday I was there myself. They're both excited the school year is ending, as I'm sure many of you are too. I know you'll most likely find this hard to believe, but there'll come a time when you look back at your school days with a grin and fond recollections of the fun you had and the friends you miss and you'll realize that, every single day, you'll make use of things you learned in classes you sat in thinking, 'what do I need to take this class for?' Little things that you know and you don't even know how you know.

 To those graduates who think they know everything -- and what teenager doesn't think that? -- I have a scoop for you. The day you graduate is the day you become your own teacher. All those other teachers you've had were really just there to do one thing -- to give you the tools you need to teach yourself.

 To me, school was like a little city where you learn how the world is run. And then you graduate and go out and run the world.

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