At the conclusion of each academic year, we graduate our stellar eighth graders in a special ceremony that honors hard work and a commitment to excellence. This is the speech I shared with our proud students this May.
Good morning graduates, parents, faculty, students, and special guests. It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the 8th Graduation of the Wood Acres School.
This spring, you may have heard that we traveled to Spain. Lucky me! I had the pleasure and privilege to accompany our graduates. And to be honest, I don’t know what took me so long to go!
But I do know I will be going again.
Seeing as I was the only non-Spanish speaker on the trip, I wanted to model what that looked like for our students. I wanted to show them to be brave in a new place and how exciting it is to immerse yourself in the language and culture when you travel.
Well, as soon as we landed in Madrid, I couldn’t wait to soak it all in. And, of course, it was easy with such wonderful fluent people to travel with in the most beautiful of countries…and when you enjoy traveling as I do!
During our time in Spain, I noticed though that some words were easy to latch onto. My ears kept perking up when I heard these words and before long I found myself asking about these words and eventually using these words.
Using these words made me feel part of the club and I loved it. I couldn’t get enough. I felt Spanish!
What is also interesting about these words, is that they all represent advice and teachings I would like you to take with you, graduates as you move onto high school and beyond.
And so I’d like to present some of these to you. Are you all ready to travel with me to Spain? Can you guess which of my favorite words are on the list?
This is by far my favorite. I know the students know it. Tranquillo.
Just say this word and you know the meaning. And I also love Sra. Thigpen’s accompanying hand gesture with this one. Tranquillo. Sometimes calma is used as a substitute. Tranquillo. Calma. Don’t you feel better after saying these?
Everything in Spain is tranquillo. How wonderful would it be if we applied this feeling and way of life to our hectic and crazy lives. It just means slow down. Tranquility. Be calm. Hakuna Matata. No worries.
You are late. tranquillo. Not feeling well, tranquillo. Having a tough day, tranquillo. And to our graduates, feeling anxious? Tranquillo.
All will be good, I promise. You have the tools you need and you are ready for this next step.
This one seems easily translated, right? It should mean clear. But what is great about this word is that it means more than that. During many conversations, I would hear someone reply, claro. And this prompted me to ask for clarification.
Claro means, I understand you. I understand your story. I understand your situation. I understand what you are going through.
Oh how I wish all of us could have someone say that in return to us. We all need to be understood. We also need to always seek to understand. Claro.
This is a break or a rest.
The image of this word just makes me happy. Each morning the students would take would take a descanso.
It is a ritual. It is a time to stop and savor a snack with friends. No to go cups. No paper products. No standing and gobbling. Just conversation and something to nibble on and sit on proper dishes. No rushing. Just enjoying.
We all need a moment sometimes to pause and rejuvenate.
These are seat belts! Every time we would get on a bus, the adults would cry out “cinturones” which would be immediately followed by followed by 11 clicks. Wearing seatbelts in Spain is mandatory.
Graduates, buckle up for safety. Buckle up for an adventure of a lifetime. Buckle up for all of the great moments headed your way. It’s going to be quite a ride.
Mismo. The same.
As in I’ll have what she’s having. This was a great one to know when ordering in a restaurant.
But this word is so much greater than that. How about remembering that we are all more same than different. El mismo. There is a great song by Jennifer Lopez called El Mismo Sol. And yes, I learned about it from my bilingual daughter. We are all under the same sun. What a great thought.
This is a funny one. I first learned of this word in a text from Sr. Thigpen to me and Sen. Boyle. We were going over details of the trip the next before our flight and Sra. ended the text with vale.
I quickly turned to my daughter for help. What is vale?
It means ok. Ready to go…Vale! See you tomorrow….Vale! Ready for summer…..Vale!
I love this one.
This is one we all know! Say it with me. Gracias. Gracias means thank you. Graduates, remember to always give thanks and say thanks.
We heartily say thank you to our families and to our students for all of the memories and lessons you have given us.
As in Let’s go! Come on!
In the words of Dr Seuss from one of my favorite books “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. This copy was given to me from my high school English teacher upon my graduation.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Graduates, I hope you will keep these words in your heart and place them in the vocabulary of your daily life. Thank you for teaching me that this is possible. Congratulations to all of you.