I received several requests to post my speech from the 4th grade Moving Up Ceremony on June 15, 2017. So here it is...
Welcome parents, family members, teachers, and most important…4th graders, welcome to your moving up ceremony! I love that I have the opportunity to say a few words to all of you and share my thoughts with you on one of your last full days at Florence Roche. I started my week meeting with all of next year’s kindergartners and I can’t help but think back to just a few years ago when I was meeting all of you and talking to you about coming to kindergarten. Just like the new crew on Monday, you were all so little and the school seemed so big in your eyes. And now, as you are about to move up and actually move just a few hundred feet next door to this school, well now you are the big kids at FloRo and somehow the school has gotten smaller through your eyes. So it’s time to move onto a bigger school where once again you might feel like the small fish in a big pond. But I hope that you will remember how hard you have worked over the years and how much you have accomplished in your time at elementary school.
In past speeches, I have talked about all of the various accomplishments that the outgoing 4th graders have achieved. I could talk about how many millions of books you have read over the years. I could talk about how many hours you have spent singing and composing your own music. I could talk about how many thousands of math problems you have solved. I could talk about all of the amazing writing you have done, sharing your personal narratives, creating characters, informing all of us about everything from penguins to how to play lacrosse to facts about Harry Houdini, and writing lots of opinion pieces full of reasons for why we should have swings on the playground or why we should take better care of our planet. I do hope that you keep sharing your opinions through writing because you all have a lot to say and we adults could learn a thing or two from you! I could talk about how many amazing, creative, different art projects you have created over the years. I could talk about how many interesting projects you have created using cool tech tools like green screens, iPads, and Google docs.
While all of that stuff, all of the things you learned, all of the work you did, all of the knowledge you gained is absolutely important and we are proud of you for those accomplishments, I actually just want to stand up here and share two simple words with you that I hope you will hold onto and carry with you as you move on.
Here’s what I want all of you to do: Be kind.
Seems a little crazy to simplify your 5 years of elementary school down to two simple words, but I truly believe that if you can hang onto those two words, you will be successful, not just in middle school, but in life.
I think I can speak for the adults in this room, your parents, your teachers, when I say that growing up in today’s world, it is not easy. Whether it’s the news, social media, the radio, we are surrounded by and sometimes overwhelmed by stories of people being mean or hurtful to each other. It hurts my heart to hear how some people treat each other. Good news is…It doesn’t have to be that way. 4th graders, you can change that. Remember a few weeks ago when we were in here for the kindness assembly? Our guest speaker said, “You can change the world.”
All it takes is to be kind. Your teachers and I, we have been looking out for you over the years. Now it’s time for you to look out for each other. Be kind to each other. When you go through middle school and high school, you get to create your story. What will your story be? What will everyone remember about you? Your friends that you are sitting next to, they will remember how you treated them and how you made them feel. Make sure those memories that you are creating are good ones. Being kind does not cost anything and anyone can do it. But if you can simply remember to be kind, not only will you reap the rewards that will last long after middle school, but everyone around you will also benefit and you may never even know the impact you had on all of those people.
What should you do when you come to middle school? Smile at people. Say hello to kids and adults in the hallways. Help someone out without being asked. Remember that your words can be used to inspire. Include someone in your group. Invite someone to sit next to you when it looks like they might be lonely. Most of all just be kind every day. If you can hang onto those two little words and let them guide your actions, you will do well in middle school.
I want to share a quote from one of my favorite books, Wonder. If you have not read this book, you need to. A line in this book says, “If every person in this room made it a rule that whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place.” I hope that during your time at FloRo, besides math equations and writing strategies and technology skills, you have learned the importance of being kind. In the book, we learn that we actually need to be kinder than needed. As you go onto middle school, I hope you will continue doing the hard work involved in building good social karma. Karma means that what you put into the world, you get back. If you put kindness out, you get kindness back. It’s very simple.
We are going to hear all of your names called out as you walk across the stage today, but I hope you know that you are all unique, wonderful individuals. We will miss you at Florence Roche, but we wish you all the best. Keep reading, keep learning, keep loving your parents, and keep being kinder than necessary.