The Farm Bleat: A message to our graduates

There’s so much more to life after you leave the hallowed halls of your alma mater.

Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Thirty-four years ago next week, I was a graduating Worthington High School senior. While I don’t recall much about the ceremony — who spoke, how many graduated or how warm it was as we sat draped in our red gowns — a single line from one of the speakers was forever etched into my mind.

“Take a look around. You will never all be in the same room again.”

I remember being somewhat thankful for those words.

I was the introverted farm girl who raised goats and turkeys and never really fit in. At least that’s how I saw myself. I felt most comfortable in my agriculture classes and Mrs. Mews’ stitching hour. I avoided anything more strenuous than basic math, and had a mild interest in frog dissection during biology, until a pair of classmates started throwing frog body parts at each other. Just recalling it brings back the smell of formaldehyde and teenage antics I found utterly disgusting.

Back then, WHS held three grades, sophomore through senior. As a sophomore, I had an older brother as a senior, and as a senior, I had a younger brother as a sophomore. Some might think that’s an advantage, but when my older brother’s friend hollered “Dollar-ninety-four,” down the hallway when he saw me, I wished I was invisible.


The reference would have been lost on every other student in the school, but I knew I was being teased for the billy goat I sold at the local sale barn for a measly — you guessed it — $1.94.

I tell you all of this because I want you to know there’s so much more to life after you leave the hallowed halls of your alma mater.

You’ve finished high school. By graduating, you’ve already accomplished more than some ever will. Your future really is up to you — beginning with your plans after high school. If you’re going into the workforce, great — we need you! If you’re going off to college, great — we’ll need you in three to five years, or more if you’re going to grad school.

We need health care workers, plumbers, electricians, contractors, news reporters, engineers, office administrators, business owners, entrepreneurs — we need you all!

Earlier this month, a friend gave me a book titled, “Don’t let life get your goat.” How fitting for a former goat farmer, I thought. Then, as I began to read the doses of encouragement within the pages — “Don’t be afraid to take a step out of your comfort zone,” “Hold your head high and be confident in all that you do,” and “The best way to avoid feeling down is to keep your chin up” — I wished I’d had the book last winter when life and everything about it had me wanting to give up.

To our new graduates:

  • Life is hard — if not now, it will be at some point. Seek help, whether from a trusted friend or family member, or if need be, a professional.
  • Be positive — there’s enough negativity in this world already. The more you surround yourself with positive people, the better your life will be.
  • Be kind — you never know what hardships those around you are dealing with. Give them a smile, hold the door, wave them through the crosswalk.
  • You are no better — and no worse — than anyone around you. If you believe in God, you know he made each and every one of us and we are special in his eyes.
  • Do your best — in your chosen career, in your family, in your community. Give 100% at work, make time for your family, find a cause and volunteer — the world needs you.

These are the things I hope you will remember.
And, from a former “Goat Lady,” don’t let life “get your goat.”

Instead, be the G.O.A.T. — the Greatest Of All Time!


Congratulations and best wishes to all graduates!

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Opinion by Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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