Graduation and a Concert · 27 June 2015
It is amazing what happens when you do nice things for others. Then again, as you sow, so shall you reap.
The Cedarcrest High School graduating class of 2015 should understand this sowing and reaping concept as it was granted a rare treat at the graduation ceremony because of it. Not only did the graduates get to hear some great speeches, including the keynote address by our own Zach Pittis, they got a concert as well. Sure the concert was by a hometown celebrity who likes to give back to his community, but the story behind the two-song concert is what tugs at my heart.
When our principal announced to all present that there was a special treat for graduation, he said something that piqued my interest, but that I did not understand at the time. He said that Austin Jenckes was here to sing a song to keep a promise. Like everybody else, I was excited about the song.
Austin is a hometown celebrity from Duvall. He graduated from Cedarcrest in 2006 and was a finalist on the TV show, The Voice. Anybody who hears him would agree with his website, which says he has “the voice of an honest soul.” But Austin Jenckes has more than the voice of an honest soul. He has something more important than that. He has character. He actually has an honest soul.
It was great to hear that honest soul. Austin sang one song and then asked if he could sing another. The graduates and all present agreed with their applause and would have been happy to postpone the diplomas if he had sung all night. But he just sang the two songs. And even if everybody there was a bit biased toward our hometown celebrity, he wowed the crowd.
Now lest you think that the appearance of a hometown celebrity is an everyday occurrence (even in Duvall), think again. Austin and his lovely bride (of nearly a year) reside in Nashville, Tennessee. He did not just need to hop in his pickup and go down to the graduation like most of the folks in the valley. He had to climb into his truck in Tennessee, get into an airplane, head to his mom’s house to get dressed up and visit a spell, and then go down to the ceremony. He left the very next day.
When I heard that, I was amazed. Austin came clear across the country to sing two songs. Sure, he got to see his family for a short time, but all those miles… There had to be a story there somewhere.
Our athletic director, Jason, filled me in. He told me a story about character.
Apparently, Jason recruited a few of our graduates who were part of the football program to help out with setting up and tearing down the venue for Austin’s wedding last summer. After the reception they were there taking down tents and putting things away in the dark. And in the pouring rain. Austin offered to pay them, but they insisted they were just giving back to the community like Austin had always done. Since the boys would not take any compensation, Austin said that if there was any way possible, he would come back to sing at their graduation.
And sing he did.
While the two-song concert was incredible, the story behind the songs was even more so. Here was a young man trying to make it in the music business taking two days out of his life just to fulfill a promise he made to a few young men. He spent money and time not to promote himself but to give back. It would have been far cheaper to insist the boys take some money and be done with it. Instead, he made a promise and kept it. By singing a couple songs.
I have hope in this world of cynicism and broken promises. I have hope because of a few former football players. The ones who gave of their time and energy to help a brother out. And the one who sings and keeps his promises. They give me hope that there are still people in this world who have character. There are still people in this world who give to each other expecting nothing in return. And there are still people in this world who keep their word.
The Cedarcrest class of 2015 and the attendees at the graduation ceremony will always remember Austin Jenckes performing for them. And whether Austin wanted anybody to know the story behind it or not, when they find out, it will make the night even more special.
As for me, I will always remember a few young men with character who do nice things for each other. Just because. And I will remember that special night when the hometown celebrity flew across the country to sing a couple songs. Just because he had a promise.
I know that you reap what you sow. Still, it is amazing what happens when you do nice things for others.
© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi
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