The following are the full remarks made by Mr. Justin Edwards at the Class of 2030 8th Grade Graduation at Alma’s Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus:
Thank you, Ms. Ouimet and welcome all family and friends here today to celebrate the class of 2030.
My name is Justin Edwards, I’m the current middle school assistant principal and the former 5th grade math teacher to the amazing scholars that sit in front of us today. I want to give a special thank you to the Class of 2030 for allowing me to be your staff speaker today. I am truly honored and it’s not something I have taken for granted. As I started to think about this speech to give you all, I immediately started to think about all of the good times that we shared together over the years, especially back in 5th grade. Those were the days! There are so many great memories that I will hold onto for the remainder of my life. Let me share a few and see if you all remember them as well.
I remember the time when I was trying to be my chill self you know and sit on the U-table while teaching and the table just fell over. Everyone in the class literally just immediately burst out into laughter.. Somebody, I don’t know who, was laughing a little bit too hard. Do you remember the time, when I was circulating the classroom and checking work then tripped over a scholar’s bag and just laid sprawled out on the floor for a long time. Thanks Mateo!
We had many moments of just laughing, clowning each other (in a good way), and simply enjoying each other’s company. Now what makes this class special is their ability to make the switch. What I mean is, they could go from laughing from one moment (most times at me) to immediately getting back to work and being on top of their academics. I will always remember each and every one of you getting up in front of the whole class to teach us how to solve math problems. I would tell you all to take a chance and be a leader. That year, we really pushed each other to step up. That’s leadership right there! There is nothing more special than seeing the growth that you all made over the years. Sometimes I wish we could travel back to all of the good times but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. So please please please… cherish all of the great moments that you had over the years at Alma as you move onto the next phase of your lives.
Now, like you all I was also able to quickly go from being funny to being serious about my work and my expectations of you all. I wouldn’t be Mr. Edwards if I didn’t use this last opportunity to be honest with the entire class. The reality is, you are moving on from Alma and will never have an experience quite like this again. High school can be the best four years of your life but that’s only if you make the choice for it to be so. Unfortunately, you might end up being in an environment where not everyone wants what’s best for you. You are likely to face a greater deal of peer pressure, unlike anything you have ever faced before. The people you are going to want around you in high school are those that can push you to do better in life. Some of the decisions that you make during these years can and will shape your future for better or for worse.
I’m speaking from experience here. I myself had “friends” and family members that didn’t take school seriously and made poor choices (some even got caught up in criminal activity) which caused them to either drop out of school or struggle to graduate high school. Early on I was far too close to making poor decisions in high school than I would like to imagine. I’m not telling you this to make you feel less excited about going to high school. I am telling you this because I want you to have the awareness and knowledge beforehand so that you can make the best decisions for yourself! Be a leader!
Although there will always be challenges thrown your way in life, I remain hopeful that each and every one of you will have the mindset and the skillset to overcome any challenge that appears on your path to finding joy and success in your life. Now let me end with some of my hopes for you all:
- I hope you realize that your family early on in your life made an important decision and took a chance to send you to Alma. At an early age, they pushed you to attend school, they pushed you to study, and they pushed you to graduate. Even after a long day of work.. They are here for you, celebrating you today and will continue to be there for you. Please realize and appreciate any and all sacrifices that they have made for you.
- I hope you realize the amount of time and energy that all of your teachers and staff members over the years have invested in you. We invested that time and energy because we believe in each and everyone of you. There have been many days during your time at Alma where your teachers were exhausted but they persisted to make sure you received a good education… because we know this class has so much potential to go on and do great things in the future. Please realize and appreciate any and all sacrifices that they have made for you.
- I hope you realize how much work you yourself had to put in to get to the point where you are now about to graduate. Yes, you have had support along this journey but this moment is not possible if you didn’t push yourself to do better.. To be better. You have all grown to become the scholar… the person…the leader you are today and it took a great deal of effort from you. You’re ready for high school… you’re ready to succeed in high school. Your work is not done yet but please realize and appreciate any and all sacrifices that you have made yourself.
- And lastly to all of my black and brown graduates– I stand before you to say that I hope you realize that you are…. and will always be more than enough. Don’t ever let anyone in this world tell you different. Whenever anyone in society tries to put you down just remember that You ARE BRIGHT, YOU ARE STRONG, and YOU ARE LOVED.
Some say, you “save the best for last” and I am thankful that you were my last class. I am proud to tell everyone that I was once your teacher. This is a special group right here and will always have a place in my heart. Now go off and continue to lead and show the rest of the city what we already know!
Love you all, thank you!