Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and members of the Class of 2018, welcome to this celebration of the Fifth Grade’s successful completion of Lower School!
For members of the class, today marks the end of a five, six, or even seven-year journey through the Lower School. Much has been accomplished along the way; much has been learned through experiences both in and out of the classroom. You have learned how to read and count, add, subtract, multiply, and divide; you have learned how to observe and record your observations; you have learned to listen carefully to a pattern and tap it out again; you have learned to take a lump of moist clay and create a bowl that you can use for years to come; you have learned how immigration made our country great; and you have come to understand the importance of taking care of the natural world. And, through the years, you have run and played, and experienced exhilaration and disappointment. And through these experiences you have come to be the person you are today.
All that you have learned you will use for years to come. Here in the Lower School you have developed the foundations upon which the continuation of your academic careers will be built, which is to say that, even though this is an important day and you have much to celebrate, you are really just getting started.
You may have encountered a Greek hero named Odysseus (and if you haven’t you will down the road). Odysseus was the man who, after fighting in the Trojan War for ten years, took another ten years to make his way home. The story of his adventures, The Odyssey by Homer, is one of the greatest stories ever told.
I mention Odysseus for two reasons. The first is that, over the course of his wanderings, Odysseus had many remarkable adventures, and each one tested him. So too in your own journey will you have many adventures and encounter many opportunities to test yourself and be tested. Be sure to seize these opportunities and learn from them and learn also about yourself. Only by doing this will you be able to realize most fully your tremendous personal potential.
The second reason I mention Odysseus is that, in order to make it home, Odysseus had to make use of all his skills and talents. He was clever, imaginative, curious (this sometimes got him in trouble), loyal, caring, insightful about people, creative, and a great story-teller. He was not just one kind of person; he was many-faceted. And so are you. It is sometimes tempting to think of ourselves in categories: math student, athlete, artist, musician, writer, dancer, historian, etc. But the key is to allow yourself to be all these things. The wider the range of your interests, the greater a range of skills you will develop and the more interesting a life you will have.
Think of people you know who are interesting and fun to be around. These are the people who can sing and play guitar and cook and garden and recite a Shakespeare poem and discuss the impact on society of a particular political policy. They are people who know things and can do things; they are people who make things happen.
So, with the foundation you have established here in the Lower School as your springboard, remain open to all the opportunities that lie ahead: this summer and next year and beyond. There is always something new to learn, and as Odysseus discovered, there is always a new adventure around the corner.
Congratulations to you on all your achievements and hard work.