We heard some great graduation speeches from our schools leaders this year. Here are some excerpts from speeches that made our graduates smile, reflect, and even cry a little. Congratulations to all our Success Academy graduates!
Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz spoke to the eight grade graduates
I want to congratulate our scholars. They are coming to an end of one part of a journey, but of course, the beginning of a much larger one. It is filled with challenges, but if there’s one thing I know about you, having started with you at kindergarten, you’ve got perseverance. You know what struggle looks like, you know what overcoming struggle looks like, you have so many academic achievements. But academic achievements are only part of what you’ve accomplished. You have excelled in music and dance and art and sports and debate and coding and, really, in life. You’ve grown socially and emotionally. We are so very proud of you!
Success Academy Harlem Central principal Andy Malone, also speaking to eight grade graduates.
High school is full of amazing opportunities, but you, the freshmen, are responsible for taking those opportunities and transforming them into meaningful experiences for yourselves. As you dream up the next four years, I want you to promise me that you will dream big. Promise me that you will have the courage and the confidence to take yourself seriously. At age 14, Anne Frank began writing her diary; Bobby Fischer became an international chess grand master; Mozart wrote his first opera; Nadia Comaneci shocked the Olympics with the first-ever perfect 10 in gymnastics, and Charles Schulz, the creator of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, published his first cartoon.
Now, freshmen, it is your turn. As you enter high school, take yourself seriously. Take your life in beautiful and bold directions. Start leaving your mark. Envision greatness in yourself and seize every opportunity that you can to achieve it.
Success Academy Bronx 1 principal Liz Vandlik spoke to her fourth grade graduates
Class of 2027, you are incredibly smart. You know how to read closely and think critically and debate ideas. You know how to grapple with challenging mathematical problems and how to broaden one another’s understanding. You test hypotheses every day in the biological and physical sciences. And so, because you are so smart, we have really high expectations for you.
Perhaps most importantly, you are nice people. We sometimes say to our families that if we raise a bunch of really, really smart children, and you go on to Harvard and you go on to Yale, but you are riding the bus to your classes and you don’t know that you should stand up and give your seat to an elderly person, then we have not succeeded. We have failed.
But, Class of 2027, you have not failed. You are nice people. You know that is something you should do. You take care of each other. You look out for one another. And you know right from wrong. And most importantly, you know how to speak up when you see something is wrong, and you know how to make it right.
Success Academy Harlem 5 principal Khari Shabazz spoke to his former scholars, the fourth grade graduates of Success Academy Harlem 2.
As I prepared what I wanted to say to you today, I thought about what I needed to hear when I was your age. Today I am going to talk to you about some of the TRUTHS I’ve learned along the way.
People say about school, “As long as you work hard, you can be whoever you want to be; you can do whatever you want to do and go wherever you want to go.” This is partially true. Hard work is very important but working hard is insufficient on the road to achievement. You must perform! You must compete academically. You have to demonstrate competency and mastery – at times, under less than ideal circumstances. You must show what you are made of under stress.
Why? Although schools can be rewarding and fun, schools are also a place where your performance — or lack thereof — helps others decide where you can go. You are sorted. Your performance in elementary school determines the quality of your middle school; and your performance in middle school determines the quality of your high school; and your performance in high school determines where you study at the college and university level. Your K-12 experience should be fun and rewarding. You need to figure out how much fun and reward you can get out of academic achievement! It is up to you to learn how to appreciate the journey.
I’ll leave you today with an African proverb that reads: “The only way to learn how to chop down a tree, is to chop down a tree.”
Scholars, grab your axe and chop wood!