Here he is my very first born son, now wearing gold for the Port Washington Fire Department Junior Firefighters. John is their secretary a fitting position for my budding author. From the time Johnny was a very young man he has had a love for reading and for writing. In his little corner of the basement he would write short stories in his school marble notebooks. He said he would own a publishing Company some day and he would name it Basement Stories Inc. Because that is where it all began for our Johnny Boy. Many years a go he began writing a book about the children of the Disney characters and what their life was like. Well just last year they came out with a TV show and a movie on the topic. Johnny was devastated as he thought this was his idea but it did not stop him from writing.
This past month the children of Weber Middle School were asked if anyone would like to submit a speech to speak at 8th grade graduation. John was up for the challenge and began writing what Donald and I think is a fantastic speech. John read it to his teachers and staff at the school and was chosen to be in the final running. Out of all the students that submitted an essay Johnny Boy made it to the top 4. Well unfortunately my Johnny did not win the chance to speak at the graduation ceremony. Here it is….Johnny’s courageous spirit.
First off, I must say congratulations to the Weber Middle School Graduating Class of 2016! We got through three years of hard work, and I’m sure that the next few years won’t be any easier, but I know we can do it. I would also like to say thank you to each and every one of my teachers who have gotten me to this exact moment. I couldn’t have done it without you. I would also like to say thank you to the other teachers, each of which I was not lucky enough to have had. You brought each and every one of my friends to this moment as well. I’d like to say thank you to our wonderful Principal, Mr. Shields, who has done a great job in his first year at Weber Middle School. Thank you to the staff for all that you do for us every day as well. Finally, I’d like to say thank you to my amazing, and might I add huge, family for all of the support that they have given me through the years. More specifically, I want to say thank you to our parents, especially my own, who have done so much work and gone through so much sacrifice to bring me to this moment in my life. I could not have done it without them.
One word in the English language that I love is the word courage. I must admit that courage is not my strong suit, as I get nervous about many things. Much like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, it takes a lot of courage to be strong and brave. We each need to remember that we all have courage within us, and we don’t need a medal to show it. However, I believe that we need courage to power through the simplest tasks, such as surviving every day life. Sadly, the problem is that the world can be, and at most times is, a very scary place. There are many experiences in life that induce fear, but I have learned to channel that fear and break it with courage. We all need it in our lives, and I hope that what the Weber Middle School Graduating Class of 2016 takes away from this speech is that we must have courage in the journey we call life, and especially on the next road of our life: high school.
We’re moving up to Schreiber High School next year, which could be a scary idea for many, but we must have courage. Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I’m sure that when beginning 6th grade with our brand new school supplies and our best “first-day-of-school” outfit on, we were pretty hopeful that this place would be awesome. However, I know that almost everyone was nervous the night before the first day of school about the change that came as a side effect of moving up a grade. Look at us now. We had the courage to continue each and every day, and we made it to 8th grade.
I know that the entire Graduating Class can agree with me that courage is a difficult concept to gain and keep with us. Before a football game, I’m sure that the team is nervous if they’ll win the game or not. They’re nervous to see the other team and how they play. If the team is noticeably better than them, the team still has to have courage that they can, and hopefully will, win the game. The same idea goes with life. We see the world as a scary place that has people that can perform tasks much better than we can, or the opposing team if you will. We must have the strong belief that we can conquer the other team, or the metaphorical hurdle that the world puts in front of us. Honestly, I was never good at sports, but I know enough about them to know that life is one large sports game. There will always be you, and there will always be the other “team” wanting to beat you. But you remember that there is the rest of the team there to back you up, and you hope that your faith in them will be kept.
When really thinking about it, what is courage? To the Graduating Class, courage is entering a classroom with your head held high even though you didn’t do well on a test the day before.
-Courage is talking in the hallway when Mr. Bass, the Blue 7 Social Studies teacher, is teaching a class.
-To me, courage is waking up every morning at the crack of dawn for a fresh start at school.
-Courage is going to Health class in 7th grade once a day a whole semester. Courage is going to Drama Club Rehearsal and messing up your dance or lines, looking into Mrs. Portmore- Davies’ encouraging eyes, and then nailing each part of it the next time.
-Courage is losing a game, but then going to practice the next day ready to win.
-Courage is learning about the sad facts of the past, specifically The Holocaust, in 8th grade.
-Courage is especially allowing your mother to be Facebook friends with your Social Studies teacher.
-Courage is having the strength to say that you’re different.
-Courage is singing out loud so everyone can hear and not being afraid of critics, and having pride in who you are and where you come from.
-Courage is stepping outside of the box and making a new friend.
-Courage is coming onto stage for Guys and Dolls, the Drama Club’s winter performance, in a bright yellow suit.
-Courage is doing the whip and other dances like nobody’s watching, and courage is wearing white Vans to school without a care in the world.
-Actually, courage is wearing any shoes at all to school when you know someone will come up to you at least once and yell “WHAT ARE THOSE?”
-Courage is walking into Mr. Enright’s classroom wearing anything but Notre Dame apparel.
-Courage is joining a club for the first time in 6th grade and not knowing anyone at all.
-Courage is walking into school on the first day of sixth grade smelling like a brand new pair of sneakers and freshly sharpened pencils.
-Courage, most of all, is delivering a graduation speech in front of the entire Graduating Class of 2016 and their parents.
I also found that courage is being able to follow your dreams, much like Walt Disney described in his quote. Throughout our 3 years at Weber, we were encouraged to express ourselves in any way we saw possible, whether it be through the amazing arts programs here, especially the Band program and the Drama Club, or through the great sports teams at Weber that are sometimes undefeated and sometimes defeated as well. The reality is that real life can be defeating too. I have always been scared of choosing what I wanted to be when I grew up. Through careful consideration, I had the courage to figure it out, even though the future still scares me. When I grow up, I’d like to be an English teacher or an author and share my love of literature with other people and children just like me. I gained the courage to decide who I wanted to be, even though I’m still figuring that part out. Actually, we all are. Weber Middle School gave me the opportunity to have the courage to understand who I want to be.
Above all, life in general requires a whole lot of courage. We can’t continue on with our lives every day without courage to fail and then do it right the next time. I’ve never had children before, but I’m sure that it requires a lot of courage to be able to get out of bed every day and handle the children. Through movies and tv shows, it seems as if you need courage to go to work every day, especially to be able to face a mean boss or even if you’re struggling at work to get it all done. This year, we learned about how Eleanor Roosevelt was a popular figure during the Great Depression, and as the former First Lady herself once said, “You gain strength, confidence, and courage by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” This perfectly describes the Graduating Class. The “horror” portion of the quote describes our years at Weber Middle School, except for the fact that our middle school lives were not “horror” inducing experiences. Schreiber High School is the “next thing that comes along.” I’m excited that we can begin writing the next chapter in our lives, and I’m even more excited that we hold the pens. Congratulations to the Weber Middle School Graduating Class of 2016!