Graduation Speech

This is my speech from Athenian School’s Graduation 2006. I think this is one of the best works I’ve ever done.

“You won’t find the true value of an Athenian education in a classroom. You won’t find it by looking at the fine colleges at which its graduates enroll. You won’t find it, heaven forbid, in SAT, AP, or high school exit-exam scores. You’ll see it if you take a moment to speak to any of the 73 wonderful members of the Class of 2006. They’ll shake your hand, give you a hug, and thank you for coming here today. Then they’ll tell you about their plans for the future – to help out the poor in a Mexican village, to raise money to stop genocide in Darfur, or to develop a compound to make our air cleaner. We are a class that refuses to be bound by stereotypes, a class strengthened by diversity, a class that’s ready to go out in the world and meet life’s challenges head-on. We have been physically tested on AWE, intellectually tested by our teachers and peers from the day we showed up for freshman orientation, and we’ve been emotionally tested, trying to balance two essays, sport practice, and talking through your friend’s girl issues during Concert Week. Well, we’ve made it.

“I think Kurt Hahn said it best when he said, “I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.” The true value of Athenian is in its willingness to give its students these tools to succeed. It’s in the school’s struggle to buck a traditional education in favor of one grounded in experiential learning.

“Today, another round of the great Athenian experiment ends. We stand before you, the jury, as a testament to the immense power of educating the whole person, not just the academic one. Our toolkit is full. In a world of high gas prices and increasing anti-American sentiment, there remains much work to be done. I guarantee, in no small part because of this school, that every member of our class will make an impact on the world, wherever they end up. Thank you, congratulations everyone, and good luck.”

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