Stephen John, a ninth grade student at Gowanda Central said it well when he said "Never give up and keep working hard" ( recent issue of the Dunkirk OBSERVER). Stephen was one among several other distinguished students who were recently recognized as "Students of the Month". Indeed, Stephen's comment is a statement of hope-filled advice.

Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams become reality. The capacity for anticipatory hope is a most significant factor in the life of each of us. It provides each with a sense of hopeful possibility and the energy toward a forward thrust. A capacity for hope is a most significant fact of an optimistic personality. And optimism is the determination that leads to achievement. Very little can be accomplished without a heartbeat of optimistic hope and self-assurance.

I recall as a young child, I had these three major hopes: first, that my family and I would be safe; secondly, that as a child, I would have friends; and thirdly, that someday I would have a good job and that the people there would like me. A capacity for hope is a most significant factor for a self-fulfilled life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started. There is no medicine like "hope." There is no incentive so great and no tonic as powerful as the expectation of something to come to fruition. Hope may be a word used too commonly, but it is an emotion deeply felt. When folks hope for something, they are looking forward to something which may hopefully become a reality.

For the hopeful person, hope will really never be silent. Hope is patience with a lamp lit, lighting the way to possibility. It is a striving toward something or a destination with anticipation. And the remarkable thing about it is that this very act of hoping produces a kind of inner strength of its own. It provides energy toward a forward thrust. I have learned that hope is much more than wishful thinking. It possesses a heartbeat of anticipation that expects to encounter new opportunities which can assist one in achieving one's dreams. It encourages one to let their hopes, not their fears, shape their future. In fact, hopeful thinking can get one out of the nervous - fear zone and into the possibility anticipatory zone. Hope is being ready for that which is yet to be become a reality. Hope cherishes all signs of new possibilities and an inner zestfulness for not-yet spent activeness. Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy in the knowledge that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, and the right thing to do.

You know, I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces - my God, my family, and a faith in the endurance of a resiliency in hope. These graces have carried me through demanding times, and in the knowledge that one can triumph over the demands in life by hope and through divine grace. Indeed, hope is a gift to be treasured!