I was asked to share my speech from the 4th grade Moving Up Ceremony, so here it is...
Welcome parents, family members, teachers, and most important…4th graders, welcome to your moving up ceremony! Last week I had the chance to meet many of next year’s kindergartners, and I can’t help but think back to five years ago when I was meeting most of you and talking to you about coming to kindergarten. For many of you, your first year in kindergarten was my first year as the principal of Florence Roche. We were both eager and ready for a new experience, you all were figuring out how to find your classroom, meeting your teachers, and learning about this whole school thing. Meanwhile I was figuring out how to get into classrooms, making connections with teachers and parents, and learning about this whole leading a school thing. I guess we both figured out what to do because five years later…here we are.
Just like the new crew last Monday, and as you saw in the video, you were all so little and the school seemed so big in your eyes back then. 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. It’s been the same for me. When I became your principal…it seemed like quite a task to get to know 520ish students, 1,000s of parents and 60 or so staff members. But now, FloRo is my family. This school has become a close knit, caring community that has wrapped its arms around me and all of you. But the time has come 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, how much you have persevered, and how much you have accomplished in your time at elementary school.
This past year, I read an amazing book. It’s called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. I love this book so much that I am going to reread it this summer and tell more people about it. And I want to talk about this book a little with all of you. In the book, the authors talk about how important moments in our life are. Sitting here today, I am thinking back on all of the moments that have happened for our 4th graders over the past 5 years. I love when the authors in the book say, “We must learn to think in moments, to spot the occasions that are worthy of investment…in organizations (like school for example) we are consumed with goals…but for an individual human being, moments are the thing. Moments are what we remember and what we cherish.” I hope that your teachers and I have helped create moments for you over the past several years. I don’t expect you to remember exactly what you did during math class in November or exactly what your teacher said in second grade about the way to write an opinion paper or exactly which artists you learned about in art. But I hope that we created some pretty amazing moments that you will take with you. Tuck them away in your pockets and pull them out, remember them, cherish them.
Maybe you had a moment in 1st grade when your teacher turned your classroom into a beach scene and you were able to read books with your friends. Maybe you had a moment when your 3rd grade teacher let you create something with magnets. Maybe you had a moment this year when you designed something new in MakerSpace. Maybe you had a moment when you helped a friend solve a problem and you were so proud of yourself. The school year is 181 days, times five years that’s 905 days at Florence Roche. You are not going to remember every single thing that happened and every single thing you learned. But I hope you are going to remember the moments that we helped create here. I know I am going to. I am going to cherish so many moments where I was able to get to know you, watch you grow right before my eyes, watch you laugh and laugh with you, sometimes watch you cry and offer you a shoulder to lean on. Please keep thinking in moments. My wish is that your teachers and your principals continue to make moments for all of you.
I have to share that my favorite moment of this year happened with all of the 4th graders. Back in December, we loaded you all up on buses and headed to the brand new theater in Littleton to see the movie Wonder. As I stop in the theater welcoming you all in and watching you find seats, several of you came up to me and said, “This is the best day ever, the best field trip ever!” And the funny thing was…the movie had not even started yet! And as we watched the movie, I spent half the time looking around me and watching all of you. Everyone was focused on Auggie and the movie and the important message of kindness…and in that moment, my heart was bursting with love and pride. That is a moment that I know I will cherish always. And when you all graduate from high school…I am wondering if that will be moment that you remember from elementary school.
Since I shared my favorite moment and it happened to be related to one of my favorite books, I want to read a little section from the book Wonder.
(share principal speech chapter)
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, you get to create your moments. What will your story be? What will everyone remember about you? What moments will you remember? 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.
In the book, the principal said, “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. Be kind.
And to finish this morning, instead of giving you answers, I will leave you with a few questions. I don’t need to know your answers, in fact pretty soon I won’t be here for you to tell me your answers. But I hope you will remember these questions and work on the answers over the next several years.
Instead of asking you what you want to be or do when you grow up, I want to ask you what problem will you solve?
Instead of asking you what accomplishment you will achieve from the school or your teachers, I want to ask you how will you help make this school a better place? How will change the world…because I know you will all do that.
Instead of asking you what you will learn or study, I want to ask you what moments will you help create and what moments will you cherish always?
Instead of asking you who you will be friends with or who you will still be connected to through middle school and high school, I want to ask you how will you be kinder than is necessary to everyone?
You won’t be able to tell us the answers to these questions, but someday you will all show us, your teachers, parents, your community, you will show us the answers to those questions.
In a minute, Mrs. Wallace will be coming up here to call all of your names out and have you walk across the stage. 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. I will miss you. But we wish you all the best. Keep reading, keep learning, keep living in the moment, keep loving your parents, and keep being kinder than necessary.