There are so many wonderful things to be said about the Graduation Celebration held on Thursday, June 5 in honor of the Class of 2014. Instead, we’ll share the words of Honorary Speaker and Middle School faculty member Glyn Jenkins, along with photos graciously taken by Middle School faculty member Mark Hespenheide. Congratulations and best wishes to our eighth grade class, the very first in Westside School history.
As you have probably guessed it’s a real pleasure, and a privilege, to have this one final opportunity to talk to this phenomenal group of individuals. A group everyone in this room is so very proud of.
Your experience at Westside School has not been a mere accumulation of points, grades, and certificates, that reflect a specific performance in time, it has been much more. You have taken your education by the horns and used school as a hotbed of character growth, and a development of mindset, and you have nurtured your strengths, not just as academics, artists and sports stars, but as caring, ambitious, strong, and, happy young people.
As you continue on your journey, continue to think of your “classrooms,” as kind of greenhouses which provide light, warmth, and nourishment that support your continued growth. Yes, I’m doing the whole metaphor/analogy thing again. What did you expect?
Wherever your classrooms are situated, and it is highly likely from this point on, many of your learning experiences won’t even be in school, and some lessons may not be, let’s say, that desirable or pleasurable, but wherever, whenever, or however, your learning takes place, have the grit to embrace the growth that comes with it.
Yes, some of you will grow quicker than others; some will grow bigger, but this is not a race or a ‘pumpkin growing’ contest; your education is an investment in creating a complete person, an investment in yourself, to live an enriched life.
And yes, if you are flower, or a weed, or indeed a pumpkin… do we have any pumpkins here today?
Whoever you are, you still have the right to grow as big and as strong as you possibly can. But bear in mind: It’s not about how you compare to the person next to you, it’s how you compare to the person you were yesterday.
So as we move on from the experience of many yesterdays, and I still smile at the memory of how many happy ones there have been – as I’m sure all your current and former teachers do – let’s take a look at who we have sitting among us today. I see a group of young people with an array of strengths. Young people who have the strength:
- To empathize and respect each other, without judgement; Isabele, you are this. The way you have supported your peers and cared about the younger children at Westside, has been truly heartwarming to observe!
- To think independently about problem solving – but have the confidence to ask for help; Niccole, you shine at this.
- To develop patience and an appreciation of quality and excellence. Larisa – quality should be your middle name. It’s what you aim for and it’s what you produce.
- to be your own person, and have faith in your own creativity; Ella, what can you not make out of duct tape? By the way, I still have the Manchester City emblem you drew for me in sixth grade – thank you.
- To think outside of the box and share ideas; Grant, you have engaged us all with your innovative ideas, and to be fair, they have not always related to the next episode of the Walking Dead.
- To be self reliant and yet be a collaborator, a team player and a leader; Annika, take your pick, you have played them all with aplomb.
- To challenge oneself; Can you spell “challenge”? Jordan can. And if you give her a few minutes she’ll probably write you a 1000 word paper on it explaining it value.
- To take risks and step out of your comfort zone; “Alice of Xmas Past” – Lily G. – novelist. You have taken massive strides.
- To give things a go without fear of failure of ridicule; “Alice T.” Owen. Brilliant. On stage, on the sports field, on the court. An all round leader and winner, in any arena.
- To perform and express themselves as artists; John, Rex, Jackson, Jakob, thespians and rock stars – we salute you for your dedication, grit, and artistic flare.
- To grow in self confidence; Lily S. and Lily T. from timid roles, as nervous narrators to center stage comedy gold. Fearless and hilarious.
- To analyze and reflect, and think things through on a regular basis; Anna N. you do all this naturally.
- To find humor in the world and share it with others; Lucie you bring a smile to all those around you. You truly are a wonderfully warm individual.
- To care and have compassion; Anna C. you clearly embrace both and its been a pleasure to be around you.
Your education in the classrooms of life should be engaging and exciting. It should challenge you and test you; to do your best; And drive you to love what you do.
So to finish off, I’ve written a little piece especially for you. Goodness knows, you’ve written enough for us over the years. Consider it a testament to who and where you are right now, and the strength of character, and positive mindset, you all possess as fabulous young people. And it is what makes us all so very proud of you. I did say we are all very proud of you, didn’t I?
We don’t have to worry about where you are going or how far you will get,
Because you are all moving on from Westside with grit and the right mindset.
Now it may seem crazy or little absurd,
That the difference between succeeding, and falling short, can be the application of one tiny word.
You see, you never know when to quit, or say I’ve had enough,
Yes these eighth graders really do get going, when the going decides to get tough.
And then it dawned on me, whenever you lot face a challenge, you see it as an opportunity, and not as a threat.
You never panic, and say I can’t do it. You shrug your shoulders with confidence and say, I just can’t do it, YET.
Stay strong and stay happy! YOLO!
~ Glyn Jenkins
Warmest wishes from the Westside faculty, staff, administration, students and community.
We will miss each and every one of you.