Throughout the year I have enjoyed many opportunities to read you a story. Today, the tradition continues – and I promise you that the story will not end like The Lady or The Tiger or Leningen versus The Ants. The story today involves all of you and your families.
Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young woman who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down, and then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer, he sees that the beach around her is littered with starfish and she is throwing them one by one into the sea. He mocks her lightly: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What difference can saving a few of them possibly make?” Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, “It makes a difference to this one.”
From our earliest days, we understand that there are tasks ahead of us to accomplish and goals to achieve. Life often looks like an obstacle course, and we spend a good deal of time discussing all the things that stand in our way. The man in this story sees only limitations: too many starfish, a beach that stretches for miles, a goal that seems impossible to accomplish. He warns the young woman that her gestures are futile.
This story as told reveals nothing about “success” or “failure” of the young girl’s rescue mission, or what proportion of the starfish survived due to her efforts. It does not describe the past, nor foretell the future. Nor does it speak to the liberation of the individual through this random act of kindness. The story is a snapshot in time: a young woman smiling and serene, moving in the pattern of a dance. Life is revealed as a place to contribute, where we are the contributors.
Today, I would like you to think of Montcrest School as that magical beach, sparkling with 37 unique and beautiful starfish: our students. And every one of you joining us today: parents, grandparents, faculty, staff, and friends – have been participating in that dance upon the beach. A dance that has been played out over your last 10 years of school.
Today, I think of many of Montcrest’s starfish:
- Lydia Frank and Charlie Mortimer who, for the first time in the school’s history earned their gold honor pins a year ahead of their graduation
- Michael Stead and Patrick Remy-Danziger’s stellar performances in the school production of The Time Machine
- Alexa Wight, Owen Salter, Lydia Frank, and Ben Golding who won individual honours at the recent international Washington music competition. And Julian Russell’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea” at the Composition Exposition.
- Mark McCutcheon’s Dragon’s Den presentation on increasing smart phone memory at a low cost.
Each of the students has pursued a wide variety of interests that have enriched all of us. They have made the Montcrest beach an exciting place to be.
Our starfish do great things when they work together:
- The U14 soccer team that won the CISAA championship for the first time in the school’s history (even making Mr. Bailey cry!)
- They have spearhead and driven the Challenge 21 fundraiser for sustainable water projects around the world
- They were the leaders capturing excellence awards at the International Washington Music Festival
On a personal note what resonates with me is the kindness and generosity that this class shared with each other and the acceptance of each other as individuals. These are skills that will be so important as you move on to high school. This could not have been more evident than on their most recent trip to Quebec City.
I return now to the beach – to the place where the young dancer serenely tossed the stranded starfish into the sea – where life is revealed as a place to contribute and we are the contributors. As a class you have shown us your commitment to others: your initiative and leadership with the new intramural program; your commitment to our younger students by helping our primary students, and your support of the band students in grade 6. Not only have you touched others you have been models for future leaders at the school.
Yes, each one of you is a starfish, but you have also learned to be dancers. It makes us proud to watch each of you stoop down upon your own beach and make a difference to those around you.
Today is a day when we celebrate each of you – as individuals and as a graduating class. I hope that you enjoy hearing their inspiring stories.
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I now return to our Montcrest beach a place where we have all worked and played together. This is a very special moment. This will be the last time that all of us will be gathered here together.
I would like to thank all of the staff and faulty for their support and dedication to Montcrest. Your tireless energy and your belief in the unique voice of each child make Montcrest a special place for all of us to come to each day.
To each of our students, thank you for your leadership and commitment to others and your fundamental belief in a better world. Thank you for your endless enthusiasm, your incessant curiosity, your infectious laughter your sense of conviction and your hard work. It is you who continue to make my job and the jobs of all of us so rewarding. Before you leave today, please take a moment to thank your parents for giving you the opportunity to attend Montcrest. Remember to thank all of your teachers for guiding and mentoring you through your Montcrest journey.
This morning we are not saying good-bye to the graduates. Simply, thank you. You have played an important part in our lives.
Remember our door is always open. Enjoy your summer; cherish your memories of Montcrest, and we wish you all the very best.