Esteemed Board of Trustees, Founder and CEO, Dr. Lopez, Director of Instructions, Ms. Cummings, faculty, parents, distinguished guests and fellow students, the long awaited historic occasion has arrived; the first graduation of the International Leadership Charter School.
Senator Orrin Hatch once said “Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning” but that, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow students, is not totally accurate. Rather, graduation is both an end and a beginning, and we are here today, to delight in and reflect on the end of one phase of life’s journey while we ponder and plan the beginning of another phase.
The road that ends today has been one of many challenges faced and overcome. It definitely was not an easy road to walk, but the ILCS’ concept of “families” rather than classes, ensured that anytime one of us faltered, others were there to provide support and enable all to keep moving forward. Indeed none of us ever stood alone. We could always depend on each other for help, whether it was doing homework, sharing confidences, lending a shoulder, providing encouragement, dishing out advice or transforming a mood. In the process we came to understand that potential is nothing without character.
In fact, I compare my own experience at the International Leadership Charter School to an infant learning how to walk, taking those first shaky, uncertain steps and stumbling many times, only to brush myself off and try again until I was able to take strong, confident strides. In my four years at International Leadership Charter School I have witnessed not only myself but the entire class of 2010 mature physically, mentally and emotionally; blooming from stumbling infants to strong, confident young adults. It was not just a learning experience, but one of evolution and growth as well, and for that we could not be more thankful. So for helping to shape the character of each one of us, and providing us with the tools for the new road ahead, the class of 2010 expresses our heartfelt gratitude to the committed and caring staff of the International Leadership Charter School. We guarantee you that we have taken to heart the lesson learnt, that, in the words of motivational writer, Ralph Marston ”Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” So for everything we say thank you very much!
To all our parents, multi talented man of letters Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” And what lies within us is the product of our parents’ nurturing love, caring concern and umpteen wakeful moments of prayers. We know that even though, in our youthful impetuosity we sometimes expressed frustration with and anger towards you, you never wavered in your commitment at every step of the way along the road just ending. We sincerely thank you for that and ask God to keep you all safe far beyond the road on which we are about to embark, so you will be there for us until eternity. To my own mom and day a special thank you! I love you both with all my heart. God bless you all!
To my fellow graduates, the shared laughter, even when it was at the expense of each other, helped to ease the stresses and strains, allowing us to stay the course and overcome the difficulties of having to juggle classes, internships and other co-curricula activities, and our oh so all-consuming personal lives. It is said that meeting and parting are two of the few constants in life. Four years ago we met at a significant crossroad of our lives; today we part to journey along the mist of time, taking with us the unforgettable shared moments and the aspirations to which they gave birth. Now, as we leave the road known as high school behind and begin to carve out new paths on the new road of adulthood, we will all meet new people, visit new places, live new experiences and reach for new horizons. Amidst all of the excitement and agonies, I hope that we can find ways to keep in touch with each other, just as families would do.
To you my fellow graduates, I quote from an anonymous author who wrote: “I hope your dreams take you… to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.” Remember as the great Chinese philosopher Confucius advised more than two and half thousand years ago, “wherever you go, go with all your heart”. And whenever the challenges seem too great remember these words of another unknown author, “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” Then go ahead, adjust the sails and keep gliding forward.
Just as President Barack Obama broke barriers on the way to the White House, we have broken barriers on the way to becoming the first graduating class of the International Leadership Charter School. Today, as the pioneering graduates, we lay the platform for the future generations. And with the preparation we have received, we can all become pioneers in our future endeavors. It is my hope that, years from now, when we all come together again, it won’t be as a class, nor a grade, but a family that can all revel in and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
In closing, I leave my fellow graduates with this anecdote that I believe, gives an incisive insight into college: A student goes to a young professor’s office hours. She glances down the hall, closes his door, kneels pleadingly and says, ‘I would do anything to pass this exam.’ She leans closer to him, flips back her hair, gazes meaningfully into his eyes. ‘I mean…’ she whispers, ‘…I would do… **anything**!!!’
He returns her gaze. ‘Anything???’ ‘
His voice turns to a whisper. ‘Would you…… study???’
Congratulations to the first ever graduating class of the International Leadership Charter School, the senior class of 2010….We made history !!!
PS: My son, Jaspal Boodram, aka Nirvan, was the valedictorian for the first batch of graduates of the International Leadership Charter School, Bronx, New York City. Above was the speech he had prepared to present but the school authorities changed it significantly so that he ended up with a speech that went on and one about the school.