"Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted... one moment... would you capture it, or just let it slip?"
Today's kids will know that rapper Eminem made those words famous with his hit song "Lose Yourself" from the movie "8 Mile."
And though he didn't sing, rap or act, Randy Schoening brought that same message to Storm Lake High School freshmen in his presentation "Making High School Count."
A nationally-acclaimed program, "Making High School Count" is designed to help students understand the importance of high school and what they need to accomplish to maximize their opportunities upon graduation.
The program also addresses transitional issues such as time management and study skills. "Making High School Count" will be delivered to more than one million high school freshmen across the country this year. In addition, the program is sponsored by national corporations such as CoverGirl, Head & Shoulders and Price Waterhouse Coopers, which enables it to be presented to schools at no cost.
During his presentation at SLHS, Schoening passionately urged the students to capture that one opportunity they have to make their high school careers successful. He introduced the idea to them that high school is the stepping stone for what they'll do with the rest of their lives.
"You've got some very important work to do in the next four years so that you're prepared to do what's next," Schoening told the crowd of high school rookies.
To stress his point, he gave the students three numbers - 15 million, 800 and one - the same numbers his math teacher presented him with when he was a freshman.
Schoening said his teacher told him the meaning behind the three numbers - there are 15 million other students out there trying to make it in high school, there are around 800 days for the students to go to high school and the students have one shot to get it right.
He reassured the students that whatever they did after high school, whether it be going to college, working or joining the military, was a good thing. "No matter what you do, though, you will want the most options and opportunities available," Schoening, the father of three, said.
Schoening told the students that 90 percent of high school freshmen say that if money wasn't an issue, they want to go to college.
He also told them that only about 60 percent of those students actually make it through the doors and less than 30 percent will actually graduate from college in four to five years. "Don't let anything get in your way," he insisted.
Schoening emphasized the importance of establishing a good GPA and making sure the students don't lose their focus when studying.
He told them a scenario to reinforce the importance of keeping their focus when studying.
"A wide receiver wouldn't stop from scoring a touchdown to answer the phone, so why would you stop studying to do it?" he questioned.
He also stressed the importance of students doing an exercise that helps them "learn how you learn." By doing the exercise, students are able to determine whether they learn by seeing, hearing or experiencing, which will help them study and take notes both in and out of the classroom.
In keeping with study habits, Schoening told the students they need to study hard in all of their classes, but make the core classes such as science, foreign language and history, a priority.
"Even if you have to get a tutor, don't give up," he said. "Get it done."
While punctuating the importance of studies, Schoening also told the students it is critical to get involved in and be leaders in extracurricular activities.
He told them that anybody can get involved in activities, regardless of background, circumstance or situation. He also reminded them not to stretch themselves too thin between too many activities, though.
"I'm here to motivate the students," Schoening said. "My soul purpose is to help at least one student focus and catch the vision for his or her life. There are no lack of negative things for teens to get involved in these days. I want them to leave with a little encouragement and say to themselves, 'I can do this.'"
All of Schoening's helpful pointers can be found on the "Making It Count" website at www.makingitcount.com.
Schoening left the students with some parting words to spark their ambition.
"There are a lot of things in high school that you can't control, but there are a lot of things that you can," he said. "Remember to have fun, make great friends and make great decisions. The sky is the limit but the choices are up to you."