Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Technical Difficulties"

Like all other Bloogers, Samra G! has been unable to post from Ethiopia due the man-made "technical difficulties" in accessing Blogger.com from Ethiopia. Most observers believe the Ethiopian government (with the help of the Chinese) has been blocking Blogger.com since most Ethiopian Bloogers are pro-opposition forces and anti-government. Samra will be back in the U.S. soon and will update her posting. In the meantime I am posting a speech she gave at her 8th grade graduation to keep her readers entertained. Like her teacher who spoke after her said, I wouldn't want to be the one speaking after her at any forum!

The proud papa G!

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Classmates:
Good Morning. We are gathered here today to celebrate a rite of passage, to acknowledge the end of the beginning of our long journey. Parents, do you remember just yesterday when your child was still waddling through the house with bulging diapers and a blankie in tow? Well, today, the Head-Royce 8th grade class of 2003 stands before you, no longer enthusiastically singing along with Barney and friends or practicing their best Power Rangers moves, but closing a door to our days of innocence and sneaking out of the window to high school. Although we have not yet stepped into the ripe age of adulthood, an exclusive land of dorm rooms and multiple cups of coffee to help with an all-nighter, leading into years of wisdom and dignified gray hairs, this promotion certainly does bring us one stride closer.
Over the past three tumultuous years of middle school we have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. Developmental issues such as raging hormones and physical insecurities make middle school chaotic enough. When you add the agonizing search for true identity and the quest for a little bit of privacy, made harder by parents who are reluctant to give up their babies to independence and freedom, it is a universal fact that middle school can feel torturous and alienating.
Furthermore, middle school is filled with the unexpected, a sheer shock from the easy life of elementary school, for we did not just receive a couple of scoops of ice cream; we were served a full sundae with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a cherry to top it off. We were suddenly being faced with the responsibility of making our own choices and decisions, such as how to manage our time, especially for long-term projects, a task I have yet to conquer. We learned how to do last minute cramming when we just remembered about “the big test tomorrow”, and have often been greeted to Spanish class with a pop quiz. But moreover, we dealt with surprises such as September 11th and the ensuing war, catastrophically hitting us on a national level. As well, we suffered the tragic loss of the late Charlotte Frey, which continued slamming us to the ground.
But when someone is suffering and you see them with pain, it washes off on everyone, so each struggle we faced, we faced as a community; we comforted one another in our times of need, only making us that much stronger, because without the pain we would not have reaped the benefits of true friendship and a strong community.
Kahlil Gibran, a poet, philosopher, and artist born in Lebanon in 1883, wrote in his book The Prophet, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
So, since the joy is appended with the sorrow, every day of middle school has not been disastrous. As a result, our class has been blessed by true characters such as Ryan Sullivan who applied for Middle School Head as a 6th grader when Mr. Aime departed. Also, we danced the nights away last year at the countless bar and bat mitvahs, many of us girls nearly breaking our ankles in our new high heels. More recently, the majority of the middle school, led by classmates Daniel Blake, Lisie Rosenberg, Alia Syed, and Will Roberts, twice displayed our support against the war by marching up Lincoln Avenue.

Finally, a wonderful trip to beautiful Catalina Island perfectly ended our middle school experience. Friendships were made and strengthened by all, whether in trail groups, free time, or a fantastic afternoon on the beach. But each gender also had their own particular ways of bonding. For the boys it was done over endless games of dominoes and rap battles, and for the girls it consisted of swapping clothes and staying up talking until two in the morning. To conclude our trip in Catalina, we happily drenched each other in a guys vs. girls water fight, which, of course, the ladies won. Fortunately, our class has had many fun times together, and has snapshots of fond memories to forever keep in the photo album of our minds.

Although we will always be able to reminisce about the events and happenings of middle school, we will also remember actual school life. I am sure that both parents and students remember the continuous battle over the quantity of homework last year, which caused quite a stir and much heated vocal discourse. The schoolwork continued to be strenuous this year with the myriad of long-term projects, particularly our various writing assignments in history and English. But our projects and assignments challenged us to become better learners and scholars, and we determinedly rose to the occasion, proving that we all have the ability to catch a shooting star and achieve our goals. The fine arts department in the middle school is filled with many gifted students, ranging from dedicated musicians in the band, to artists and actors, to vocalists who participated in the wonderful chorus last year. Everyone has graced us with fantastic performances and concerts. Lastly, sports play a significant role in middle school life at Head-Royce. There are many amazing athletes in our class, as is evident by the championships won by both our varsity boys and girls basketball teams, the varsity girls soccer team, and the boys baseball team. Way to go Jayhawks!

But the continuous academic, artistic, and athletic success of our class would not be possible without the constant support of our middle school head, Mr. Andy Jones-Wilkins. A remarkable man and a great middle school head, Mr. Jones-Wilkins consistently allows us to voice our opinions and stand up for our beliefs, whether it was resisting the backpack ban in the hallway last year or hosting rallies up Lincoln Avenue this year. He is strong, caring, and an inspirational speaker, and while dashing around making announcements in the mornings, he is almost always seen with a smile. Plus, Mr. Jones-Wilkins is even cooler because he can balance a chair on his chin! And how can we forget Francine Peters, officially the middle school administrative assistant, but basically the woman who keeps the middle school running. Of course she is scary when she yells at us to get to class, but she is an amazing person that nurses us when we suddenly have a stomachache, spoils us with phone calls home when we forget something, and serenades us from her desk throughout the day. Thank you so much Francine and Mr. Jones-Wilkins, we give you our everlasting gratitude.

Now that we have completed middle school, we embark upon our journey through high school, and many of us are filled with mixed emotions. A prevalent feeling is fear, whether it is of the upperclassmen, more challenging academics, or the transition in general. Greatly differing, there is passionate anxiety to get out of middle school and move towards something bigger and more thrilling. We are nervous yet calm, excited yet frightened, happy yet sad. Several students are leaving Head-Royce for high school, and we will surely miss each one of them, for we have shared one, two, or three years with them. But Kahlil Gibran also wrote, “When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.” So, good luck to everyone graduating today as we begin our journey, and I hope you will always remember these five things: 1) dare to be different; 2) do not be afraid to tell your friends and family that you love them, because tomorrow you might not be able to; 3) listen to your parents, because sometimes, just sometimes, they might be right; 4) no matter how bad it gets, keep your head up, because the joy does come with the sorrow; and lastly, 5) nothing can stop you from catching your shooting star.
Parents, let’s take another walk down memory lane: do you remember your child’s first day of middle school? Their apprehension or exhilaration? Maybe they were a little bit pudgier back then, or a little bit shyer. Well, today is your child’s last day of middle school, and after three eventful years, each graduate has grown and blossomed into young men and women and developed into unique individuals. This is the end of the beginning of our long journey, and we stand at a threshold of a new chapter of our lives. Thank you all, family, friends, and teachers, for coming today and sharing this moment as we dive into the deep end. Your presence is greatly appreciated. Congratulations you guys; we made it! Thank you.

oXo oXo
o SaMrA o

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