Friday, June 30, 2006
Carlisle School graduation, 2006 Below are the two speeches presented by graduates.
It wasn't as present when our class was in first or second grade: at that time we relied on the teacher heavily, leaning on the stories told in class, the lessons taught with large, sweeping gestures of kind hands, from warm voices. Without the teacher we would be lost.
Time passed and there came to be individual projects. Unlike in the wee years of our education, some of the work we did was apart from partners and teammates. Friendships, groups, were cleaved into individual people. Yet still there was the help of the teacher, a lifeline in case of distress.
The hands of our clock kept turning, and slowly the theme of independence started to pierce through the schoolwork, shining brighter and more important now. We started to realize exactly why we were here, for what purpose, and what we were trying to accomplish.
In the classroom of a cherished middle-school teacher hung a poster stating that the goal of a teacher "is to make the student able to continue without the teacher."
Carlisle Public School has lived this line from the moment I first stepped into the first-grade hallways, to this very moment on this day of graduation for our class. From the first experience of listening to my first-ever Carlisle teacher explain the rules of the classroom to the last experience of being here with the rest of my class, my teachers, my family and friends, to exit the school with one final fanfare, independence has been present, growing slowly from a dripping faucet to a roaring waterfall.
Now we are ready to take on new challenges, to let life lead us wherever it may, and we will not be afraid to accept new responsibilities without help, because while teamwork too was stressed, we are an independent body of students, each with his or her own opinions, own mind, own understanding.
To be one's own person, and not simply a model crafted from a mold of simple identicalness, is a gift that we should all be proud of and it is a gift given only by our teachers. In our young years there is no other place from which we may draw it.
Let them say they are proud of our grades. Let them say they are proud of what we know of physics, or literature, or mathematics. Let them say they are proud that we can identify countries or solve algebra. But we will know that such things are not the greatest accomplishments; in reflection, in contemplation, it should be clear that beyond this, what we are proud of, is our knowledge of our own identities. Of our differences — of our independence.
After my experience here, to me, innocence is
when you didn't have a group of friends, but you were friends with everyone. When you didn't even know what the word "cliques" meant. Popularity was maybe something you saw on TV dramas or read in books. You were never timid or awkward when talking to anyone. Kids were kids, they were all the same and what they thought didn't matter.
when the only stereotypes were "bully" and "nerd." When you believed the only form of bullying was violence. When you didn't know that the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me" is completely untrue.
when you thought when everyone looked at you, they saw you and not your race or your gender. The only thing different between girls and boys were that boys had to do more during the physical fitness test. You didn't know anything about a person unless you truly knew them. You didn't make any assumptions.
when you thought slavery and racism was a thing of the past. Slavery was a cruel thing that you didn't understand why it happened. But to you, it was demolished along with racism. And you never imagined that one day, people would be racist against your own ethnicity.
when you thought that adults were always right. Asking questions made you feel dumb, no matter how many times the adults said it was okay. They also said they made mistakes, but you never caught them making one.
when if someone said pi, you would ask cherry or apple. A slope was something you skied down, not something you solve for. And Math meant numbers, not letters.
when 'frog' meant that cute, green, stuffed animal perched on your bed, not the dead, brown, dissected, creature attached to your cutting tray. And the most foul smell you've experienced was when you went to the bathroom, not when you went into the science room.
when "report cards" meant having to face your parents and not having to face yourself. You hated report cards, seeing them as something that gave your parents an excuse to ground you. You didn't see why you had to get an 'A' and not an 'F'. They were just letters, not your future.
before you realize that not everyone will be off to college after high school. Before you realize that many are going to drop out and end their school life and their chances.
when if someone said 'war' you would think of the card game. Not of the bloodshed and the horrors. The deaths and the tears. The sacrifices made.
not being able to imagine why anyone would want to kill anyone else.
when drugs meant Tylenol and not Marlboro. We didn't see any reason behind ruining your entire life with drugs. We believed only the unfortunate and unlucky got cancer, not the depressed and the addicted..
when cars were considered a convenience and not a danger to the earth. Warm weather meant bright sunny days and not global warming.
before you learn that the world is cold and harsh place, and it's up to you to change that. That you can't go with the flow, because you'll drown in it.
before you realize that not everyone's as lucky as you are. That many people will never live a day in their life where they have enough to eat. That many people will never receive the education and chance you've been blessed with.
when you didn't know that not everyone will get this chance to stand before their family, their friends, their neighbors, their teachers, like so many of us today, ready to graduate, already on our way to a future that's been molded not only by ourselves and our parents, but every single person we've met during our experience here at Carlisle Public Schools.
something that is not lost, but given up.
the price of maturity and the price of survival.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito