Find Your Gift: A Farewell to the Grade 6’s

I would first like to welcome families, friends, staff, community, and most importantly, students to our Grade 6 Celebration and year end ceremony.  I hope you enjoy the format we use at Kent school in which we honour and recognize each student for his/her strengths and passions.

When I look to this grade 6 class, I think back to just over 3 years ago on the back soccer field.  I reflect upon the soccer games we had back in grade 3 in which these then 8 year-olds decided to show me how to swallow my pride and understand that I needed to work harder if I wanted to keep up with them. There have been many more lessons they have taught me:

  • How to lighten the moment to make people smile
  • How to smile to brighten another person’s day
  • Ho to get up on a table and sing like nobody is listening
  • How to play hockey with a lacrosse stick
  • That saying thank you can go a long way
  • How to be a true leader to younger students
  • How to give to others and expect nothing in return other than the feeling of doing something positive

2011 might be thought of as the year of the twins. This year, we had:

the Sedins and their unreal playoff run:

Sedin Twins

The Sedin Twins

the Green Men and THEIR awesome playoff run

The Green Men, Image: http://bit.ly/qp6uvf

The Green Men, Image: http://bit.ly/qp6uvf

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,

My VP (@4thekos) and I as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

My VP (@4thekos) and I as Tweedle Dee/Tweedle Dum

Some twins that mean the world to me – my daughters,

My favourite Canuck Twins

My favourite Canuck Twins

and OF COURSE 3 sets of twins in this year’s grade 6 class: Cody/Coby, Liam/Odin, and Jacob/Ben (pics shown during speech).

We must remember, though, that although you are alike in so many ways, you are your own self, and I will quote who Cassandra (grade 6 student) names as her future husband, Mr. Bieber when he sings: You Were Born To Be Somebody. Grade 6’s: you WERE born to be somebody.  You have within you a strength or passion that is unique to you.

I DO have to add to what Justin, JB, Biebs, or the Fever says though…

Lorna Williams, of Mount Currie and Lil’Wat Nation, states (in the book Child Honouring): “The Lil’Wat [people] believe that each child comes into the world with gifts to share. The responsibility of the family and community is to see these gifts and to nurture and support these gifts so they may emerge and flourish throughout the individual’s life.  The personal and unique qualities of each person are nurtured and recognized in every child as necessary for the well-being of the family, community and nation”.

You do come into this world with your own gifts, you WERE  born this way.  However, it is up to YOU to determine what you do with these gifts.  Many of you are very skilled in soccer, or math, or music; this is NOT JUST because you were born this way – it is because you have spent hundreds of effort-filled hours practicing and honing these skills.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, states that people who are elite in their field get there after spending 10,000 hours… 10, 000 hours.  Yes, you were born with a gift but it is the effort and practice that will determine what you do with this gift.

In addition to spending time in an area in which you are passionate, I encourage you to try new things, show courage by getting outside your comfort zone and challenging the status quo. Maria Sapon-Shevin (via @Joe_Bower) states:

Courage is what it takes when we leave behind something we know well and embrace (even tentatively) something unknown or frightening. Courage is what we need when we decide to do things differently… Courage is recognizing that things familiar are not necessarily right or inevitable. We mustn’t mistake what is comfortable with what is good.

Find your gift.  Seek out or continue to work with your passion. In addition, look outside your comfort zone and have the courage to challenge yourself  and your current views by spending time learning areas in which you struggle. Through your efforts and hours, you will be able to use your gifts in a way that is unique to you and in a way that can not only help you but many others with whom you share your gift.

You will fall.  You will fail.  It is how you respond to these challenges that will determine how great you become.

I will finish with a speech from an experienced, motivated and knowledgeable young man:

Thank you for coming today as we recognize our grade 6 students.  Thank you to our grade 6 class for all the smiles and memories that you will leave with us and best of luck on your learning journey.

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.

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