First Assembly 1011
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Mr. Geoff Roberts' First Day assembly speech:
Good morning, and welcome back.
This is the first full assembly of the year – something I look forward to not because it’s the start of a new year . . . I enjoy the summer holiday as much as you do . . . but because I really, really like it when we get everyone together like this. Directly experiencing community, that opportunity of getting everyone physically together once in a while, is getting rarer, I sense, and more valuable. Our society, increasingly, seems to be more predisposed to isolation than inclusion – except for the exploding virtual world where online networking is expected and necessary. Crescent is a place where we truly value and celebrate community, and we share community values. Our common values of respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion both define and unite us.
That sense of community was made manifest this last week. With the sudden and tragic passing of our recently-retired and beloved librarian, Margaret Donnelly, Crescent’s heart was laden with sorrow. But let me tell you what unburdened me, somewhat. Mike Donnelly, her son, who spoke beautifully at his mother’s funeral, was wearing his Crescent Alumni tie. Two of Margaret’s pallbearers were boys (now men) who were in his class when he attended Crescent, and during his speech he spoke about the special place that he had held in the family because he was Margaret’s only child. He had no siblings to talk to or with whom he could share his grief. He said to everyone there, however, that his classmates, and all the boys at Crescent School, were his brothers, the only brothers he would ever have, and that gave him profound solace in his time of need.
That is what I mean when I talk about community. We share the same values. We can be trusted. We are honest. We strive to be our best selves, even when circumstances make it very, very hard. We can be counted upon to help others whenever they need our help. Mike Donnelly, Margaret’s son, past Head Boy of Crescent School, relied upon us for strength, and this community - you - were there for him.
It did not go unnoticed, certainly not by me, that in that very, very crowded funeral chapel that it was the Crescent students sitting in attendance who got up from their positions in the pew and moved unbidden to stand in the alcove at the side so that others who were a little older, could be seated. Thank you, gentlemen. That was an inspirational character moment.
Every year I stand here before you and speak about a theme I would like us all to embrace. Last year it was responsibility. I challenged you to take responsibility for your actions and your stuff, and to not ask you parents to bail you out when you forgot your homework, soccer cleats, musical instruments or whatever you forgot. If you forgot something, I said, take the consequences. They’re rarely dire. No one has lost their life at Crescent School for forgetting their project. You may have lost some marks, but you may have learned to be more self-reliant. That’s a far more valuable lesson than whatever you learned while doing your homework.
That push towards personal responsibility must continue. Don’t call home for someone to bring your stuff to you. Plan ahead. Own the problem when it occurs, take the consequences, and then work in the future towards a solution.
Which brings me to this year. Crescent School is a busy place, and you guys amaze me each year by doing more things than I could ever dream possible could be packed into a single academic year. You commit yourselves to everything, and throw yourselves into school activities with energy, enthusiasm, and passion. Other schools have to deal with student apathy and lethargy. Not us. School spirit is alive at Crescent.
We are all busy people. Our ability to organize ourselves is the key to getting everything done. While I’d like every student in this room to stay engaged and active, I don’t want anyone to burn out because of being over-committed.
I want everyone in this room to have a successful school year, but that necessitates thinking about the whole school year now, in September, and planning the long march towards June. I have asked you teachers and your mentors to help you plan for the year, something I know that they will enjoy working out with you in the weeks ahead.
The bottom line is this. If you are going to commit to something, commit to it completely: body, heart and soul. Don’t let yourself, your coach or conductor or director or teacher down by not honouring your commitment. Complete what you start, and complete it to the best of your ability. Don’t do half a job, or compete in most of the games. You are being dishonest to yourself, and you may be taking the place of someone who would be euphorically happy to make that full-blooded commitment that you can’t or you won’t make.
My theme for this year, then, is honour your commitment completely. In the immortal words of Jedi Master, Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
In closing, let me honour a tradition we have observed for many years now. Gentlemen, grade threes, in the front row, please stand. Turn around and face the student body. Wave to them. Grads: on behalf of the student body, wave back. Gentlemen in the front row: please sit down. Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed history. The future leaders of the world, our grad class of 2011, have just welcomed the future leaders of Crescent School, the grade 3s – class of 2020 – to our remarkable, unique, caring and committed community that we will share forever.
Welcome to the 2010-2011 academic year, Crescent School. We’re going to have a great one.