Grade 12 Graduation Ceremony
May 28, 2014
Honoured guests, fellow principals, faculty, parents, special guests, students of Rundle Academy and the graduates of 2014. I am honoured to deliver today’s principal’s address.
Through this meandering tale, I hope to help answer the question, “How will you, the Graduating Class of 2014, find success in the next chapters of your life?” To illuminate a path to a successful and fulfilled life, I hope to evoke the spirit of science and nature of sport, of technology and of the arts. We will consider the lives of ants, the number 99, an empty chair and the most successful band of all time.
However, before we get too serious, let me digress. I thought that before I try to share words of wisdom about how to be successful, I should first figure out what our senior students would define as ‘success.’
To this end, late last week I had the opportunity to sit with some Grade 12 Rundle Academy students. I had one simple question for them to answer.
I asked them to finish this sentence: “When I grow up, I want to be…..”
Nicolaj, Cole, Ally and Bryce went with those established careers that we all know and many of us aspire to. They responded with ‘an actor,’ ‘a police officer,’ ‘a firefighter’ and ‘a businesswoman.’ One very creative and unique response came from Paul, Paul stated he wanted to do ‘paul o tics’. Love it!
Matt and Maryn, on the other hand, went with the unconventional - yet highly evolved. They said, ‘wise’ and ‘happy.’
One last insightful, ‘anonymous’ graduate who wishes not to be named said (initials LR), when I grow up,
I want to be… eeeee, um… eeeee, um…. I don’t know’.
This answer, I really love, because really, who does know what they ever want to be. It can all be a little scary!
To help round out our exploration of options for the future, I consulted many sources for future careers. Among the top jobs in the future, reported by these sources, are:
Rewilder, Simplicity Designer, Robot Therapist, Vertical Farmer, and Smart Dust Programmers.
I suppose the point I am trying to make, as cliche as it may sound, is that whether you are preparing for the known known (a doctor or dentist) or the unknown known (wealthiness or happiness) or the unknown unknown (a robot therapist or smart dust programmer) - we all need guiding principles to work within.
So, for you, the Graduates of 2014 - here are four key elements I’ve learned while at the Academy that will hopefully transfer to your success “when you grow up.”
Key Element #1.
Recently I was inspired by a book by Stephen James Joyce titled, “Teaching an anthill to fetch.” Without belaboring the point. The author conducts an insightful exploration of ant colonies and what we can learn from them. In essence, he shares that because Ants work together, they are able to overcome insurmountable odds. Essentially, it’s collaborative intelligence that allows them to organize and to move seemingly insurmountable mountains. Sound familiar? Graduates of Rundle Academy, you have worked together with your teachers and each other to Move Mountains. Do not forget how valuable this collaboration has been.
While we have a moment, students, why don’t we show our Academy staff, the best staff on the planet, how much we appreciate them and their hard work, dedication and never ending support of the students of the Academy!
Key Element #1 - whether you become a researcher or a rewilder, you will always be stronger if you work with others.
Key Element #2.
To illuminate this point, I first need to take you back to the year was 1979 when a 18 year old, 160 lbs rookie was trying to break into the NHL. The player in question had a confidence that people couldn’t quite understand; this was because they didn’t understand his preparation or his frame of mind. He had spent his first 18 years gritting it out on backyard practice rinks and training his mind to think differently. That player’s, as unpopular as this might be to say in Calgary, was my childhood idol and his name is Wayne Gretzky and he changed the game forever. Over his 20 year NHL career, he literally broke nearly every record that existed. Notably he scored 215 points in one regular season. Early in his career he was anointed ‘the Great One’ and upon his retirement he was inducted into the hall of fame immediately following his last game. Graduates, all these stats about the Great One, might leave you asking - okay - Gretzky was great - but what does that have to do with me and my big day?
Which brings me to a recent Globe and Mail interview of a top Google executive titled “habits of highly successful people.” The executives closing comments of her article on how to be successful in today’s day and age. She states, “I’m the last person to use a sports analogy, but Wayne Gretzky said, ‘Skate to where the puck is going,’ and I don’t think there is better professional advice. We spend so much time thinking about the past and not enough imagining about what the future is going to look like.”
Graduates, you don’t need to be skilled in hockey like Conner or Miraan to understand Key Element Number 2. In the future you will need to not skate to where the puck is, but to where it is going. Rundle Academy has always succeeded, much like the Great One, by being ahead of the curve, and you too, will be successful if you follow this model. Each of you is blessed with a creative and divergent mind. You are the thinkers our world will need to solve the problems we do not yet know exist.
Key Element #3.
As each of you leaves Rundle, you will undoubtedly be leaving an ‘empty chair.’ This metaphorical image originates with Steve Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Mr. Bezos insists that during each meeting he attends, there is one empty chair in the room. This empty chair represents the customer which Amazon is attempting to serve. With your graduation, you too will be leaving an empty chair at Rundle Academy.
Each of you has left a distinct mark on our program and your memory will live on in the minds of our faculty and in the pictures and on the awards in our hallways. You each have been a key element of our success and us too of yours. As you go on and leave us, I encourage you to remember where you have come from. Let there be an ‘empty chair’ that reminds you of your times at Rundle Academy.
Furthermore, please take a second to remember to thank your parents for making your education a priority. Because invariably there was a time in your life when you doubted yourself and wondered if you could do it, your parents may have entertained that thought but never once allowed it to be reality. They have always believed in you and through their own journey, they found Rundle Academy and knew we could help you learn to, once more, believe in yourselves. I am certain there will be an empty chair in their homes when you leave.
Please join me know as we thank them for supporting your past and for continuing to support your ambitions as you move forward.
Graduates, your key element #3 is to Remember Where You Have Come From and those who have supported you. Those people will be your support network moving forward.
Key Element #4.
As the Beatles put it so well - all you need is love. This principle is as simple as: Doing what you love. Love what you do. Cherish those who you surround yourself with.
As Confucius said: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
To conclude. As we move into an ever changing world, remember to:
- Work Together
- Think Ahead
- Never Forget Where You Came From
- All You Need Is Love
If you do those things, you will all invariably be happy and wise no matter what you ‘job’ up doing!
Congratulations Graduates of 2014!
Jason B. Rogers