Good afternoon graduates, parents, families, community members, School Committee members and Superintendent Thomas to our 2017 graduation ceremony. My name is Chris Dodge and I proud to the be principal here at the Dexter Park Innovation School. Today we honor, recognize, and celebrate our 6th grade students and you, their families and support networks.
This time of year for me, for the students, and staff is one of great excitement. But it also brings with it a flurry of other emotions: grief as another year comes to a close, pride in our students as we see them move on ready for the next grade, and even sadness as we say goodbye to the students and staff that we have worked so tirelessly with and invested so much to. Students, you are probably feeling the same mixed emotions. Maybe a little sad about leaving a place you know so well, a little scared about what is next to come, and hopefully proud of of you have done in your time here. I want you to know that the adults feel the same way, and it’s okay. It is completely normal, you are human.
You may also be sitting here wondering, as the adults here do this time of year, did I do enough with my time? Was I enough for those around me? Was I the best I could be all the time? Well, I am here today to tell you the answer to those questions: no, you weren’t, and it is okay. When you find yourself asking these questions, shift your mindset from one of regret to one of acceptance. Accepting you for who you are, the mistakes you make, and the effort you put forth to making you and the people around you better. And as you sit in front of me, ready to move on from DP, accept this moment as it is and all the feelings and emotions that live inside you. It is what make you, you.
It is always funny for for me to be giving this kind of advice because I don’t always practice what I preach: about slowing down, letting go, and letting things be. So I was recently looking for some inspiration and found a poem that I’d like to share.
Friends, when you move onto new adventures, my message if simple: remember how small things grow. We cannot do it all, change it all, solve every problem, but as Mark Nepo writes “we can feed each other”. We can offer small, nearly invisible kindnesses that can take flight into some unknown future, effortless, alive. Bring everything you have to others around you; all your passion, humor, intelligence, weakness, and challenges. Be content with you are at this very moment, accept yourself and others for who they are, and seek to make others’ lives better in your presence. These small moments make a big impact, and the world need more of that. Take big risks, give it all you have, don’t forget to laugh, and always choose kindness.