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Lessons I Learned from Repeating Fourth Grade

Mahogany Ridgley delivered the following remarks to the graduating fourth-grade class at SA Harlem 2.

Hello my people! Ehm, I mean: parents, teachers, leaders, and fellow scholars. I know that some of you are having déjà vu because I am back here again. A lot of you are probably thinking, “I saw this girl graduate already!” And, well, you did. To be real with you all, last year was a struggle for me — but over the course of this year, I have learned so much, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

First, I learned that some people can be mean, but that most people are nice, and that everyone deserves to be treated the way that the nice people treat you. I learned how to kill with kindness those people who choose to not be nice, and now I’m basically a ninja assassin of kindness. I learned to take ownership over my work and my actions, and I learned to love school in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

I want to take a second to shout out Ms. Mackall, who has been such a huge reason why I was able to learn these things. I’ve have had quite a few principals in my time, but Ms. Mackall is by far the best. She put her blood, sweat, and tears on the line for our school, and for all of us, and if we didn’t have her I don’t know where we would be.

I want to shout out our parents and teachers who never gave up, always tried their hardest for us, and pushed us to be our absolute best selves. This celebration is for you too.

But anyway, back to the lessons. I learned that getting left back is not as big of an issue as it might seem. I was left back, and at first I had a hard time dealing with that, but if I went to fifth grade I would not be as focused as I am now. People develop at different rates, and have different strengths and weaknesses, and because I spent another year in fourth grade, I know mine.

Thank you, Class of 2028, for helping me learn these lessons. I am proud and honored to be one of you, and I know that we will make our mark on the world. What’s important is that we keep learning, keep growing, and if we do this, we will figure out who we are, and how we can be those nice people, that inspiration, for someone else.

Have a great summer, be safe, be awesome, and I will see you all next year. Thank you, my people, for giving me your time and attention. Later – Mahogany OUT!

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Written by Mahogany Ridgley June 9, 2016

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