Posts Tagged graduation

Graduation Speech 2014

To all of our special guests, faculty, administrators, parents, friends, and family members – we welcome your pride and presence as we celebrate this, our 20th commencement exercises.

I offer my deepest gratitude to Ambassador Myler for his words today. The Anglo-American School of Moscow values our sense of community and your participation here validates our collective and collaborative commitment to the students seated before us. Thank you!

To all of our dignitaries from our supporting embassies, I thank you for your presence and continued support of this important institution. Without you, this school would not exist, and we hold most dear our commitment to excellence in order to serve your interests and those of our diverse and vibrant community.

Kate, you brought an important message to this class of travelers. Your words inspire us as the journey begins anew and I thank you for guiding us to a successful launch.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Daniel for his words to all of our high school students yesterday at the annual Awards Assembly. You gave us wonderful insight into your class through the humor surrounding cherished memories, poignant and engaging for all of us in attendance.

In a few words and a couple of quotes, I plan to tie some thoughts together to bring us quickly to that moment where you will stand before us and take those few final steps to the instance of greatest importance here today. The hand-off will be completed with both brevity and significance, punctuating this portion of a life that has so far been committed to living, learning, and becoming.

And you have learned much. More than a decade of education has included a critical foundation of skills upon which you will soon build your profession. Not only did you learn what you needed to know, but you also learned how to learn. I would suggest that you will find that learning is seldom complete.

Our teachers know that their greatest joy emerges when students become independent learners capable of capturing new insight without intervention. They take great pride in getting you to this level of accomplishment and the faculty, counselors, and administration seated before you here today are some of the best I have ever known at achieving this. You see in their faces the tremendous pride that they feel, having brought you to this moment, and they will shed tears of joy today because of their affection for the students that they now know so well.

I should note that the Anglo-American School can not accept total credit for all of the students that sit upon this stage. We know as an international community we must confess that many have had other schooling experiences before joining us here in Moscow. Further, we should admit that some have stayed with us for a time, left for a bit, and then returned after other experiences in different settings. It is our strength that we embrace this diversity and a unique constancy of change and transition. But, we have a few exceptions here today that I simply must recognize:

Lifflander Max K 21-Aug-01
Mekibel David K 21-Aug-01
Rogatnikov Ana-Lina K 21-Aug-01
Sazonova-Prokouran* Maria PK 22-Aug-00

*Pre-K – Grade 12 continuously and is only the second student in our history to go from start to finish.

This is a capable and talented class. They have demonstrated great accomplishment and testament to their achievement is successful placement in a wide range of colleges and universities around the world. These honors were realized through diligent effort and an added ability to capture their passions in words and actions while seeking their next path in life. They impressed recruiters from around the world with their preparation, beliefs, and potential.

I value this class for the unique way in which they demonstrate a commitment to living life to the fullest. On the stage before you are writers, poets, actors, musicians, and vocalists. They practice and perform in every corner of the school and I value the talent and passion that fills our halls.

I also sense that there are strong relationships seated before you that will bind this class now and in the future like no other. I believe that these friendships will stand the test of time. I suggest to you that this is critically important to your future, that you find opportunities to build strong and loving relationships. Hold on to the bonds of friendship as they connect us to common purpose and help us see the path to tolerance and peace.

This class has also shown compassion for others in unique measure. The number of projects associated with reaching beyond the boundary of the school gate has increased significantly. Too many to list here, the spectrum includes saving animals, feeding the hungry, helping communities to recover from disaster, building schools and homes, delivering books, embracing and supporting cancer patients, and the list goes on. During their time here, these students have learned about the importance of a life filled with the enrichment of service to others. They have been generous with their time and resources and there are many smiles of gratitude around the globe as a direct result of their efforts.

So, now, the couple of quotes that I promised at the outset:

I think you all know that my background includes cherished time as a Kindergarten teacher. With that in mind and reminiscent of a Robert Fulghum styled approach, I offer the following of my own as summary, and things that you already know:

In Life…
Learn more than you teach,
Love more than you hate,
Give more than you receive, and
Always seek to become more than you are.

But, how to achieve this in life is best captured through words shared by the new student body president elected on Thursday, Alex Botashev. After two days of work with a large group of adults helping us consider the next steps of our strategic plan, Alex shared this quote from the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche:

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.

It is my fervent hope that you find a vibrant and rewarding pathway through life and that you tap into your internal chaos, passionately seeking to share your brilliance with us all. I’m absolutely confident that you have the skills and talents for this task.

My congratulations to you all!

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Graduation Speech 2013

To all of our special guests, faculty, administrators, parents, friends, and family members — you honor us with your pride and presence as we celebrate this important moment for the individuals seated before you on this stage.

I offer my deepest gratitude to Ambassador Cooper for his words in honor of our graduates. The Anglo-American School of Moscow continues to thrive on our sense of community and your participation validates our commitment to the students we collaboratively nurture and educate. Thank you!

Sai, you brought a message that is an important one for all of us.  You gave us insight into the heart of your class — a sample of what they can and will become.  Thank you for the memories that your words will inspire.

With only a few minutes left until you begin your journey across this stage and into life, let’s capture some final thoughts.  Inspired by a cartoon character named Johnny Bunko, the creation of celebrated author and researcher, Dan Pink, let me share his 6 essential lessons for life.  They are simple and concise. 

#1 – There is no plan!

This is a cautionary tale about overly planning your life. Statistics tell us there are many changes ahead for you.  In your lifetime, five career changes are imminent.  Careers that you are seeking now may soon become obsolete and replaced by jobs we cannot now name nor imagine.  You are emerging into a generation challenged by a constant state of change.  Change will be your normal and you should embrace it now.

But, most of you already know this.  You come here from countries from around the globe. You have learned through profound experiences how to dodge and weave in a complicated and dynamic world.

Accepting that there is no one plan means that you make decisions for fundamental rather than instrumental reasons.  When the time comes to flex and move with the tides and waves of life, seek your core values — the ones we taught you, the ones your parents instilled in you, the ones that give balance and meaning to life.

#2 – Think strengths, not weaknesses

Ask yourself — what do you do consistently well?  What is it that you would choose to do over other things?  What is it that gives you energy?

This class is filled with talent beyond measure.  Sitting on this stage are artists, mathematicians, scientists, authors, researchers, publishers, musicians, vocalists, actors, athletes, and leaders. Look into their eyes and see the strengths that will build one upon another in the months and years ahead.

#3 – It’s not about you

The most successful people in the world improve their own lives by improving the lives of others.  Your many service projects were reviewed yesterday at our assembly and the wide array of accomplishments is a testament to your understanding of the importance of giving something back to the community and to the world. The fondest wish of our mission statement is that you contribute in equal measure to what you receive.

#4 – Persistence trumps talent

This may seem inconsistent with thinking about your strengths, but it is simply an additive message about the importance of augmenting talent with perseverance. 

This class understands commitment.  What sits before you is the entire class that started at our opening ceremony in August.  Not one person has gone missing since the day we carried the flags of many nations into the gym at our opening.  Those that began this year finished this year — and graduated. That’s commitment!

But, let’s stay on that theme for a moment.  Phillip Sadov is our longest attending student on this stage.  He started at AAS in Pre-Kindergarten and stayed with us until today, only the second to have done so in the school’s entire history.  More than a dozen others have been here since elementary school and a few more were here for a bit, left for a time, and then returned to finish high school with us.

This class knows persistence.  You understand persistence through rigorous classes. You understand persistence through your studies and demonstrated success.  You understand persistence through your patience with and regard for each other.

Another group also understands persistence.  Your teachers, counselors, and administrators have stood beside you through every incarnation of student engagement. Graduates on this stage have reflected with me on how the adults at AAS committed themselves in unlimited ways to their learning and development.  They shared stories about countless hours of additional time outside of class. They reflected fondly on the sense that their teachers really know them.  They remember the willingness to offer additional chances and the important woven conversations about learning and life. It is clear to me that this class loves and respects the faculty and staff of their school.

#5 – Make excellent mistakes

You have already learned that the key to success is not getting bogged down in the failures.  When you recognize that mistakes are learning opportunities, you balance failures against the benefits of what you learn.

Therefore, as you graduate today, I give you permission to fail. Go out and fail!  And, from your failures, let opportunity emerge.  In the words of Beverly Sills, an American Opera singer:

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Finally,

#6 – Leave an imprint

Johnny suggests that you only have a finite time in this world.  In the time that you have, you should seek to do something that matters.  You should seek to make a difference.

It is the sense of doing important work that keeps us connected to our core – something that helps us find deeper meaning in life.  At our roots, we want to do something distinctive – something with higher purpose.  It is my fervent hope that you find a vibrant and rewarding pathway through life.  I’m absolutely confident that you have the skills and talents for the task.  You have impressed us all.  Now go make your mark on the world!

You are and always will be, the class of 2013!  My congratulations to all of you!

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