Selected by Grade 8 students and members of faculty, the Class Speaker is a respected member of our community, demonstrates scholarship, and models the school’s Core Values. This is the text of Houdah Daniels’ speech from June 8.
Picture your favorite bird. A hummingbird? A seagull? An eagle? Now imagine your favourite bird as a hatchling, looking over the edge of the nest. The baby bird faces some challenges in adapting to its new environment: its underdeveloped wings and its fear of falling from the nest. BUT with support from its parents and surrounding peers, it learns how to fly. This was us. New to the eighth-grade environment, but learning how to fly.
Let’s look back to when we first saw our advisories. Some of us eager to spread our wings, thinking how great the year already was. While others reluctant even to go the edge of the nest… Just one month later we were at Outward Bound helping each other catch the wind beneath our wings. Encouraging each other to conquer our fears of heights; working as a team to reach common goals. We bonded as individual advisories and more importantly, as a whole grade. That week’s trip gave us a newfound respect for one another and inner strength that just needed a little push.
When we strive for greatness, we want to fly without fear and without effort. Almost as if our gliding is second nature. But that’s not reality. We first had to develop our wings and experience turbulence in order to learn how to progress. We are a grade of many talents. Dancers came out of their comfort zones, on stage and in track and field. Our songs became the background music in theater productions we performed in. And former twirps became bookworms. By traveling outside of our comfort zones, our nests, we experienced different worlds. This is what it means to fly.
But we do not all fly at the same pace or in the same direction. We should embrace our diversity and map our own journeys: whether from Canada, India, Great Britain, Lebanon, America, China, Ghana, Turkey, Germany, and many more. Oh, and how could I forget, Sweden.
Here, at the American School in London, our mascot is the eagle. This symbol serves as a representation of us. While most birds fly in flocks, the eagle has the power to fly alone. Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves to follow the flock… to participate in the same sports as everyone else, to share the same interests as everyone else, to wear have the same fashion as everyone else, to have the same hairstyle as everyone else, to speak the same way as everyone else.
I hope you take with you the idea it’s good not to fit everybody else’s standards. It’s good to be loud if we also allow others to be heard as well. Forte in Italian means loud, strong. This means loudness is strength. It’s also good to be an introvert, who prefers to be heard through poetry, art work, books… making yourself heard through writing. Because if you have a voice, you deserve to be heard.
Before closing, I’d love for us take this opportunity to show appreciation to those who helped us fly during our last year in middle school. Our families… our advisors… our teachers…
Picture your favourite bird, once a hatchling, now with developed wings who has learnt how to fly. Now we go to the next level, where we will learn how to SOAR beyond our dreams.