“Graduation” Speech – 2019

Often times after I give my fifth grade “graduation” speech at the end of the school year, some parents and others ask for a copy of my words.  In addition to sharing me speech with them, I figured that I would also share them here.

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Moving Up Ceremony 2019

And so we come to the end…  I don’t like this moment, because I don’t like to say goodbye. 

A number of parents, moms mostly, but a few dads as well, have asked that I don’t make them cry today.  I can’t promise that because I might cry myself. 

So, let’s not make it goodbye. 

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This is a great class of students – dear to my heart.  I have spent a lot of time with these students, especially this year, talking with them about so much. 

I want you know something very important at the start.  This is a special, a super special, group of students.  This class has been complimented time and again for their kindness, respect, calmness, understanding and more.  They’ve been praised more than most – maybe more than any other class. 

These are really good kids. 

I am very proud of them. 

I know you are as well.

As parents, you did well.  Very well.  (Apples, most often, don’t fall far from trees.)

And, I’d like to think that as educators, we also did well.

I’d like to share some big ideas that we all talked about over the years, one last time, with the hopes that the students will remember these ideas always – to find success in life.

First – Success isn’t what we get or end up with.  Success is something deeper, something that comes from hard work, perseverance, and kindness.

We become successful when we focus first on being good people – supportive, loving, and understanding. 

When we know how to appreciate and empathize and care, we find success.

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Being Santa Claus

(The other day, I went back into the archives of passages that I wrote to the teachers at my school.  I found this piece from 2009.  This brought back a lot of memories, and also, with them, the reminder to savor every single moment.  That little boy sitting on Santa’s lap is twenty years old.  I genuinely miss those wonderful moments from long ago…)

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Each year I get a terrific honor.  I’m Santa Claus at our annual church fair.   For the better part of Friday evening, and on Saturday morning, I am Santa.  I’ve been doing this for a long time – since my kids were little.

When my kids were little and they talked to Santa, they didn’t know that the Santa they were talking to was me.  It was a very special time – priceless might be the word for it. I savor in those great memories. 

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Radio Star II

A few months ago, I shared how people who I will never know might be impacted by the words I read from my basement in the early hours before school each day.  I read a health report and share words of inspiration for a radio show in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area. 

As a high school kid, when I dreamed of being a radio announcer, I thought I’d be doing things a little differently than what I’m doing now.  I also thought that if I was on the radio, I’d be talking about baseball – especially the Yankees.   

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Marbles

The following passage come from my acclaimed book Impossible is an Illusion.

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          Alex Semendinger is a great kid.  All the Semendinger boys are great kids.  (Of course, I may be little biased in my assessment.)

Although Alex has many great attributes – he is kind, understanding, funny, smart, hard working, focused – as he grew up, organization was not one of them.

“Alex, is your room clean?” was an often-heard question in the Semendinger house.  The follow-up answer, “Yes” also led to an interesting dynamic.  Alex’s definition of clean, and my definition of clean, were not the same thing.

Growing up, Alex loved marbles.  As marbles seemed to be a frequently gifted item, I believe there was a time when he possessed no fewer than 45,765 marbles.  Alex’s collection contained marbles of various shapes, designs, and colors.  Cats-eyes, agates, onionskins, alleys, solids, micas, and peppermint swirls, he had them all.  It was an impressive array of marbles. 

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Insignificant?

I think, in a way, we are very spoiled.  The world is at our fingertips.  We can see amazing things whenever we want.  Some of the amazing things we see are real, some of them might even be staged (“reality TV”), but, nonetheless, in the moment at least, what we are watching seems real, amazing, other worldly, and significant. 

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Saying Goodbye to Matsui & Meb

(This post can also be found on NYY_Report (“Start Spreading the News”):

http://itsaboutthemoney.net/start-spreading-the-news/2017/11/6/saying-goodbye-to-matsui-and-meb)

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We are sports fans.  There is something special and wonderful and unique about being a sports fan.  We love our teams and certain players.  We get excited by special moments.

 And when disappointment hits, it hits hard – and it often hurts. 

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A Shining Light

(Author’s note – I changed the names of the student in this true story.)

Way back, a long time ago, when I was a teacher, I had a student named Beth.  One day in class, during a discussion about Pre-Columbian America, Beth shared that she was of Native American decent.  That prompted me to bestow a nickname on her.  (I gave happy nicknames to lots of kids.)  From that day forward Beth was “A Shining Light in the Sky.”  Beth loved the nickname.  She came to class every day with a warm smile.

Beth was one of those kids who was easy to like as a teacher:  She was happy, enthusiastic, a hard worker, and team player.  A model student, Beth was the type of kid who makes teaching a joy.

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The Judge

(The following passage was included as part of the monthly newsletter that I send out to the parents of my school community.)

It is no secret that I enjoy sports, mostly baseball, and that I have always been a big fan of the New York Yankees.  There is something about baseball that resonates with me.  The ebb and flow of the game, the simplicity, the day-to-day consistency…  Like a good friend, from April through September, baseball is a constant companion.  I love it.

One of the big stories that has come out of this year’s baseball season has been the fact that a rookie on the New York Yankees, a certain Aaron Judge, recently set the record for the most home runs ever hit in one’s first season.  No player had ever hit 50 home runs as a rookie until Aaron Judge accomplished that feat.  Amazing.

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The Houston Astros and You!

(The following is a modified (slightly shortened and less school specific) version of the message I sent to my teaching staff as we begin to prepare for the opening of the 2017-18 school year in a few weeks.  The message applies to all individuals in all walks of life and all professions.)

When I was a child growing up in the late 1970’s, the Houston Astros had very cool uniforms. 

I was a Yankees fan (that is deep-seated in my blood), but there were times when I wished the Yankees could at least be a little more colorful.  I, of course, love the Yankees’ midnight blue pinstripes and the interlocking NY, but for a kid, that Astros rainbow uniform was a lot more eye-catching!

The Astros also were also a pretty unique team.  They played in the only domed stadium (The Astrodome), they played on fake grass (Astroturf), they had exciting players like Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Cesar Cedeno (pictured above).  The Astros were even featured in one of the Bad News Bears movies!

None of that influenced me enough to be an Astros fan, but it is undeniable that there was a certain appeal to rooting for the Houston Astros. 

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