"The problem with living every day as your last day is that we often forget about consequences and every decision we make might hurt someone else or might hurt us," he said. "You want to think strategically, you want to look in the future and have the best possible outcomes you can get. And to do that you don't want to live recklessly. . . . You want to make those good decisions. Invest in yourself. Invest in those around you." This was Houck's last graduation at the Mountain School.
Along with his advice about living strategically, he said while success is difficult to achieve, it is not difficult to understand. He told his students to protect their reputation and - advice not generally doled out to eighth graders - their credit scores.
"Anything that costs more then $25 think three times about buying it," he sad. "Eventually you'll get to the point where you have a credit card. . . pay cash for everything you need, for the exception I would say of two things, your car and your house. Everything else, you want to pay cash for it." Casey Apps, who will graduate from Burr and Burton Academy and is a Mountain School at Winhall alumna, class of 2010 also gave a commencement address. Her advice - milk it - encouraged students to truly experience their high school and do figure out to do as much as they can.
"When you hear someone is milking it, it's usually a negative connotation that you're taking advantage of something for all it's worth and usually its not a good thing," she said. "But I milked Mountain School and Burr and Burton Academy and I think I did so in a positive way making the most of every opportunity."
The 2014 graduates from The Mountain School at Winhall are Caroline Margaret Claire, Bryanna Marie Fernot-Noyd, Russell Jameson, Grace Emerald MacFadyen, Alexandra Elizabeth Nowicki, Anthony Santoro, Christopher Kevin Sullivan, Cecilia Claire Szkutak, Haley Claire vonAchen, Wren Young.