The National Federation of State High School Associations is at this moment conducting its 99th Annual Summer Meeting in Chicago, the city where the organization was born almost a century ago.
For all but seven months of the past 62 of these 99 years, there has been a John Roberts as one of the NFHS member state association executives – my dad in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years, and I in Michigan for 32.
I attended my first NFHS Summer Meeting when I was eight years old. Five of us in an un-air-conditioned family sedan drove nearly the full length of US Highway 41 from Wisconsin to Miami Beach at the southern tip of Florida.
My younger sister learned to swim there. My older sister found a boyfriend there. And I guess I discovered my life’s work there.
A life’s work from which I will retire this summer.
Including those on the job today, there have been just 324 individuals who have ever served as full-time chief executives of the NFHS member high school associations. Just 324 who appreciate the pressures and the opportunities of this work the way my dad and I have.
These jobs are precious gifts and a rich blessing ... unusually rare opportunities to serve and influence students, schools and society.
For years I’ve concluded most of my correspondence with the phrase, “It’s a privilege to serve you.” I’ve meant it.