Today, we are commemorating the graduation of our kindergarten students into Grade 1, the passage of our Grade 5 students from the Primary Years Programme to the Middle Years Programme, and the first official graduation of our Grade 10 students. In Canada, we call this day “commencement”, which means “beginning”. It seems like a strange word for something that feels more like an “ending”, but I suppose something needs to end in order for a new beginning to be possible.
Kindergarten students, you are going to make the big jump from the preschool to the BIG school. When you come back to school in September, you will be in Grade 1. I have watched all of you grow so much over the past year, and I know you are all ready to make this move. You are ready to play with the big kids now!
Grade 5 students, I have known some of you since the time when our WHOLE SCHOOL fit into Mr. and Mrs. Kano’s house! It has been a great pleasure to watch all of you grow along with the school. Some of you have grown so much, you are almost taller than me, so you can stop now! This year’s Exhibition was a true pleasure to experience, and I am very excited to see what you will be able to achieve in the Middle Years Programme next year.
Grade 10 students, you are the first real graduates of our school. This means that we can claim bragging rights for all the great things you are going to do from now on! You are extremely talented students, and we are all so very proud of who you have become. We know that you are going to put what you have learned at TIS into practice and find your own way to make the world a better place.
When I graduated from high school, my mother gave me a copy of a poem by Max Ehrmann called Desiderata. It was written in the 1920s and it contains many pearls of wisdom that are relevant today, almost 100 years later, so I thought I would share it with you. It’s a bit long, so I will cut out some parts that you can maybe wait until your high school graduation to hear!
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, […] they too have their story. […] If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. […] The world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, […] whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
This poem offers advice on just about every aspect of life, but the one part that always pops into my head when I remember this poem is the idea that you shouldn’t compare yourself with others because it will only make you feel more important than you actually are, or make you feel upset because you aren’t important enough. However, if you can stop worrying about other people and just try to be the best YOU you can be, I believe you will find the key to success and happiness.
Tsukuba International School is a community of friends. Our school has provided us with a very special, shared experience that is truly unique in the world. I hope that you will all carry this experience with you wherever you go, and that you will use your memories of your time here to inspire you as you take this next big step in your life.
Be yourself. Be cheerful. And strive to be happy.
June 20, 2013