My first and last CDIS graduation as principal. This is a special class for me. It is filled with many different types of kids, relationships, and histories, and I am fortunate to say I will miss them all.
I was asked to give a brief opening word for the night, and it was more difficult than I had expected. I'm used to standing in front of people, talking, and telling stories. But when the magnitude is HS graduation, jokes and simple stories seem fully inadequate.
My notes of the night were scratched over and over into my notebook, until finally, I wrote some simple ideas and spoke freely, and from the heart.
I shared this poem with them:
When I Heard the Learned Astronomer, by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
And reminded them that as they pursue their careers and grades and futures, to stop and stare up in perfect silence at the stars.
Then, I summarized this story:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, after a big storm had passed, he found the vast beach littered with starfish, as far as the eye could see, and stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy who, as he walked, would paus every so often. The old man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves. When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
“But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach,’ The old man said, “I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy thought for a moment, then bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. He turned, smiled at the old man, and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley
And reminded them that the little things matter, like writing simple cards, and buying ice cream.
While working on my speech, Stanley Leong, an elementary teacher, came into my office and said, "I just want to say 'Thank you' for always greeting me in the hallway. You made me feel part of the furniture." Then, he handed me this envelope, because he and his wife wanted to gift my family with ice cream this summer.
This too I shared with the seniors.
It was a great, and very late, night, filled with reunions and goodbyes.
But it also means that tomorrow is our last day of school.
For more on . . .
BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN AND SUBSCRIBE - THANKS FOR READING!