Noreen Lidston, who is retiring on July 1 after 20
years as Head of Lower School, offered graduating
seniors "Rules for the Road" during her Baccalaureate
address on June 5. In her creative and humorous way,
Lidston delivered both practical and poignant advice that
will surely have a lasting impact on the Class of 2015.
Her overriding message, "Get behind the wheel of that big,
bold, beautiful thing called your life and DRIVE!"
Read Lidston's speech in its entirety below. Her words of wisdom really apply to anyone at any stage of life!
Good morning, parents, guests, faculty, and the
Class of 2015!
First of all, congratulations to our seniors on
reaching graduation day! It takes a lot of hard work,
dedication, and sleep deprivation to arrive at this point,
and I hope you are feeling the pride that comes from
accomplishment, and the joy that comes from sharing that
accomplishment with your loved ones.
Good for you!
I am both honored and delighted that Mr. Britton asked
me to give the Baccalaureate address to the Class of 2015.
It is unusual, in my experience, for someone from the
Lower School to address graduating seniors. It is quite
likely that some of you have never been inside of Elderkin
or Dudley Halls, and that you have had little interaction
with Lower School students except to be annoyed by them on
the bus. What could the Head of Lower School possibly have
to say that might be helpful, or even mildly entertaining,
on a morning like this?
Well, as it turns out, you and I do have something in
common at this point in our lives. We are all
transitioning away from our familiar roles at McDonogh and
are becoming someone else. Very soon, you will be getting
your diploma and, immediately after, a card that
identifies you as a McDonogh alum. Very soon, I hope to be
getting a learner’s permit that identifies me as a
candidate for a commercial driver’s license so that I can
drive a McDonogh school bus!
We are all on the brink of something new and a little
frightening. Less than three months from now, you will be
attending college and I hope to be driving a bus. While
these may seem like disparate occupations at first, they
have more to do with one another than you might think!
Because baccalaureate speakers are supposed to offer
graduates advice, I would like to submit for your
consideration some guidelines...or Rules for the Road, if
you will...about driving a bus and living a good life.
1. Start your journey with a full tank.
Make sure you
have all the fuel you need to get where you want to go.
Fill up on emotional energy, determination, resiliency,
and “drive” before you set out. If you need to stop and
fill up again, do so without begrudging the time it is
taking from your trip. It is better to refuel with family
and friends than to run out of gas along the way.
2. Drive Safely.
When a big stretch of open road
lies before you, otherwise known as college, it is
tempting to put your foot on the gas and “open ‘er up” so
to speak. Why not find out how fast you can actually go
before you blow out your engine? What is wrong with being
a little reckless once in a while? What’s wrong is the
damage you can do to yourself and others by going too
fast. You are not on your bus alone, after all. Others are
riding with you. Those “others” might be your hopes and
dreams for yourself or they might be the people who love
you. Don’t put them or yourself at risk because speed
3. Use your turn signal if you are changing directions.
No journey is without turns. The road you take will
have unexpected curves. You will encounter detours and
sudden lane closures. You may end up going in an entirely
different direction than you first thought. Expect this -
it is okay! If, however, you know in advance that you are
going to change directions, use your turn signal. Let
someone know ahead of time if you can. Call your parents
and tell them that you are going to change your major from
business to classical trumpet. Let your fiance know if you
are having second thoughts. Tell your boss that you are
seeking a greater challenge at work. Perhaps she can find
you one - like looking for another job! Let your partner
know sooner rather than later if you are thinking about
another house, or if you have changed your mind about
having a baby right now. Although it is possible to veer
off in a new direction and survive, it is best to have the
knowledgeable support of people who love you in order to
make this turn safely.
4. Check your rear view mirror occasionally, but mostly
keep your eyes on the road in front of you.
important to know where you have been, and to remember how
you got to where you are today. However, nothing is as
important as being present in the here and now, and
knowing where you want to go. Don’t lose focus or let
yourself become distracted. Attend to what’s ahead and
leave the past behind you. (I hear it is very difficult to
back up a bus!) The only thing you ever really have is the
present moment. Stay alert to what it might offer you.
5. If there is dense fog, pull over and stop.
is dangerous to continue your journey if you can’t see
where you are going. If you become engulfed in fog or get
lost entirely, stop for a while until the fog clears.
While it is tempting to turn on the high beams and keep
going, the light reflected off the fog will make it even
harder to see. Dogged determination to continue down a
road that is hidden in fog can be dangerous. Wait until
you have clearer vision before you get back on the road to
making a major decision.
6. Open your door to whoever wants to get on your bus.
Accept and welcome all the people who want to be a
part of your life and ride along with you for a while. You
will be meeting hundreds of new people as you move through
college and into a career. If they behave well and do not
disrupt things on your bus, let them stay! If, however,
they misbehave and cause you to become distracted, angry,
or sad, put them off your bus as soon as possible and with
no regrets! No one has the right to put you and others at
risk or interfere with the journey you have planned.
Troublesome family members are the exception, of course.
You can’t really put them off your bus entirely. All you
can do is encourage them to sit a little further away from
you and take out their cell phones.
7. Helping other people get to where they want or need
to go is a good way to spend your life.
want to restore someone to health, teach them to read,
fight for their freedom, build them a house, help them
manage money, fix their teeth, or lift the veil of their
depression, you will have an enormous sense of reward and
satisfaction when you have brought them to their
destination safely. Just follow the Rules of the Road!
There is one final thought I will share with you. I
have received a number of reactions as I have told various
people about my intention to become a school bus driver.
Some are incredulous, some are elated and enormously
entertained, and some are dismissive. Some have even said
this: (hold up “Stop” sign).
Expect those same reactions along the way as you share
with people what you hope or plan to do next...but don’t
be deterred or detoured by their reactions!
A school bus is 10 feet high, 8 feet wide, and 40 feet
long! It weighs about 30,000 pounds. It is big and bright,
and especially when all its lights are flashing and the
stop sign swings out on the side, it makes a bold
Let that be you! Attract some attention as you go down
the road! Get behind the wheel of that big, bold,
beautiful thing called your life and DRIVE!!