Tsukuba International School
Graduation Speech
Shaney Crawford, Principal
June 19, 2014

Mr. Kano, our former principal, liked to give speeches. Actually, he liked to give quite long speeches. When he was giving a speech, I would sit in the back and try to tell him to hurry up and finish! Last night, while I working on this speech, I asked Ms. Kono for some help. Here is what she said I should say.

“Congratulations. Finish.”

So, I promise not to speak as long as Mr. Kano would, but I am going to try to make it a little bit longer than Ms. Kono suggested, if you don’t mind!

It’s hard to believe we have come to the end of another year at TIS. We moved to Kamigo in 2008 and into this new building in 2009, so we have now been in this location for six years. When we first moved here, we had fewer than ten students, and now we have 117. We had five staff members then and now we have 24. Some of the students who were with us then are still at the school and many, many more have joined us since then.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is that makes our school special. Is it because we are in Tsukuba Science City, which provides a very academically rich setting for a school? Is it because our school is built out of wood, so we can feel very relaxed and calm in a natural environment? Or is it because we are an IB World School? Yes, all of those things play an important part in our school, but none of them explain why our school is so special.

Our school is special because of the people in it. First of all, we have the best students a school could ever hope for! (Right?) While we have all kinds of students at our school, in general, I would say that TIS students are bright and cheerful, they do their best to become good learners and good leaders, and they are respectful to all of the people in our school’s community. And importantly, they are active learners who seek out new knowledge on their own rather than waiting to be filled up with facts from textbooks.

Our students’ parents are also extremely supportive. Every time we have a school event, we have many parents volunteering to help out. We also know that parents are supporting their children’s school life at home in many different ways. In addition, we could never have this school if we didn’t have parents who believed strongly in providing an authentic education for their children, and who were brave enough to choose a different path than what regular public schools offer.

So, we have inquisitive students and supportive parents, but without another essential ingredient in our community, we could not achieve anything. Who do you think I am talking about?

That’s right, it’s the teachers. Every day, your teachers wake up thinking about all of you, their students, and then they spend their whole day trying to inspire all of you to think bigger thoughts and become better people. Their job is very hard because teaching is not like baking a cake or building a house. If you have a nice recipe, you can probably make a nice cake, but there is no recipe for teaching. Some ways of teaching will work for some students, and not for others. Some topics for learning are interesting for some students and not for others, so teachers have to think very carefully about everything they do every day, and make sure that what they plan will have an impact on all eight or ten or sixteen students in their classes. This is very, very challenging, and only very special people can do this every day for a whole year.

And, of course, we cannot forget all of the other people who help us every day, such as the magical Mrs. Handa and Mrs. Kitazawa who provide the backbone of our school.

So, I think I know why our school is special. It is because of our amazing students, our supportive parents, our incredible and inspiring teachers, and all of the other people who believe in the vision of our school. We, the community of TIS, make this a special place that students want to come to every day, and a place that other schools look to for leadership and advice. And it is important to remember that we have become this kind of school in a very short amount of time. Our school was only started about twenty years ago. If we have come this far in such a short time, imagine what our school will be like in the next twenty years!

So, as the principal of this wonderful community, it is my deep honour to congratulate the graduating classes of 2014.

To the Kindergarten students:
You have worked so hard this year with Ms. Laura to get ready to join Grade 1. I have been looking at your portfolios and I was amazed to see how much you have learned this year. I also noticed that you have become very independent and can do many things all by yourself that you used to need help with. Even though you are graduating today, your time at TIS has just begun. I am very excited to see how you will continue to grow during your time with us. Ms. Laura has already asked you what you want to be when you grow up and I see that we can look forward to having teachers, dancers, zoo keepers, and Ultraman in our alumni in the future!

To the Grade 5 students:
You have completed your PYP journey this year with the help of Mr. Paterson. I was very, very impressed with your Exhibition this year. The quality of your thinking was very high and you were able to teach me some new things about your topics. We had many visitors from Tsukuba City Hall and some other schools in Tsukuba, and all of the visitors mentioned that they were amazed at the quality of your work. You should be very proud of your efforts. I believe that your time in the PYP will help you to be a very successful student in the MYP. I also hope that you will remember your experiences in the PYP and use them to help the students in the younger grades to succeed as well as you did.

To the Grade 10 student:
Wanonno, I told you I would find a way to keep you here forever! You and I have been involved with Tsukuba International School since 2004. We have both watched the school grow over the years, and I have watched you grow from the time that you were a little boy who was obsessed with learning all the capital cities of all the countries in the world. You have now become a very worthy young man, who ably reflects all of the hard work your parents and teachers have put into your education. You will now face two years of very challenging high school work that will test the limits of your abilities in new ways. However, I know that you are up for the challenge and that you will continue to make me, and your parents and teachers, proud.

So, to all of you, I thank you for a wonderful year and I am looking forward to sharing the next exciting chapter in our school’s history with all of the special people in our school community. And to all of our graduates:

Congratulations.

Finish.