My final words to My Year 9 family as they finish Middle School
Today, I woke up and decided it was going to be an awesome day. We all have decision like this to make in order to live the life we imagine. Guess what. Today was awesome. My favourite songs played on the radio, a friend randomly decided to get the birthday love happening a week early, so I was swamped with lots of tweets, pictures, videos and messages from friends and acquaintances from all over the world, people were upbeat, sharing some Christmas spirit before we break, and of course, I get to be here, in this space with all of you.
I’m telling you this because life is all about choices. Some big, some small. And along the way it’s the people in your life that make it glow. The best thing we can all do, is dream big, build sandcastles in the sky, and work to put some foundations underneath. It was one of the most treasured and fascinating visionaries in the world who once said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” On this very day, 110 years ago, a great dreamer was born. Walt Disney was the world’s greatest dreamer. Not only was he not afraid to dream, he was not afraid to walk those dreams into reality.
I remember when I was very little, loving Disney, classic Disney, awe-inspiring visions of Fantasia and soothing movement and warmness of animations such as Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo. And the moment when I dressed up in my Minnie Mouse costume and ran through those gates at Disneyland as a 7 year old still makes me smile. Even as a child, I can recall being overwhelmed by these happy feelings, and have long since looked to Walt for inspiration in my own day.
Walt and I share the same business; to quote the great man “My business is making people, especially children, happy.”
I was reading a blog post from a father, a great mind, Stephen Kennedy. He wrote so beautifully and frankly of his dreams for his young children. What caught me was the final sentiments of his post; “I believe My children are unique, bright, and creative young people. But I have to tell you, yours are as well. Where education has to go next is personalizing itself to bring out that uniqueness, that brightness, that creativity in all children. Things are changing. My children, your children, and all of us have to collaborate, communicate, and conspire together to minimize the lost opportunities. I take that process personally, very personally.” I have taken this journey with your daughter from when she was just coming into her being in the realms of high school, following this huge first year as a teenager, right through until this moment, as she embarks on the curiosity, wonder an awe of senior school, with the responsibility, challenge and change that brings. I will continue to take the process of her learning of growth very personally as she goes.
It is in the simple joy of spending time together that our year group has formed a tight and very special bond. I often lament with good friends in the field of education, that that kids do more for us as educators than we do for them because they are so great to be around. It’s a special task I have been charged with; to be involved in the lives of young people. Disney also thought deeply about his role in the lives of children, and the role of sharing time and energies as we go about our day. It has long been said that it takes a community to raise a child, and I firmly believe, like Walt, that our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings. We must remember the wealth of the collective and the power of working together.
This year group is tenacious. They are vibrant and they are awesome. Together, we feel deeply, laugh loudly and dance madly. We are passion-driven. I have tried with my heart and soul to show these wonderful girls that when you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably. This showcase, and all that this year group undertakes is testament to their drive to do and be better.
“A person should set their goals as early as they can and devote all their energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, they may achieve it. Or they may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, they will know they have been alive.”- Walt Disney
Every sandcastle in the sky that ended up with foundations underneath started with an idea, a bit of hope and optimism to see it through. Optimism is a really important value and attitude. Optimism has seen me through sticky situations, tough days, and has become a key element in how I approach my day. “Optimism is a hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view.” While optimism has its eyes set firmly on the future; it is grounded in the present and focused on human relationships for it to grow. Optimism needs time and space to grow and be. Busyness is not a badge of honour. It is far more courageous and meaningful to be in the moment. Time spent with people is the only thing that matters and this leads to the most utterly extraordinary things in your life.
Keep being curious, keep playing and exploring. It’s how a small mouse came to life and changed the world.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage.”
So as you move from the middle, don’t fear change and don’t be scared of what you cannot see; your only fear is possibility. And take these lessons, I have from Walt Disney;
1. Never lose sight of what really matters: Your family and friend first. Your family must be part of your dream, and should remain within your focus. Never become so busy that that you neglect the individuals who matter most.
2. Do What You Love, Love What You Do: Go and play, be free in the lightness of fun and whatever you do you must follow your passion. Passion is what gives you the strength to overcome the obstacles that will get in the way of your dreams. Passion is what keeps you going when everyone has given up; always remember that passion is powerful.
3. Do amazing things that others deem impossible. Walt said many times; “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” My friend once shared a message I want to gift to you; Keep shooting for the stars. If doing amazing things were easy, everyone would do it. Your heart and perseverance will lead to things that you would have never even imagined. Learn to pursue the impossible, pursue what others say can’t be done, pursue what has never been done before, pursue your dreams, and turn them into a reality; put foundations under your sandcastles.
4. Walk your Talk “ If you can dream it you can do it…so get it done!” Each day, we need to live with intent, in the moment, yet with that optimistic mindset that leads to such amazing things. A bit of a ‘let’s do this and then see how it went’ mentality goes a long way to get things done! Learn to get into action, start today, whatever you’ve been postponing …just do it. If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never accomplish anything.
5. It Takes a community… “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Each of us have different skills, talents and interests. People who can reach out and harness the best of the collective make this world a significantly better place.
6. Always towards better things; Semper Ad Meliora. The very motto of our great school. Everyday you should become a little better than you were the day before. You must always strive to be great.
And so, when you think of what is next in the chapter of your life, as you move from middle school into senior studies, from blue blazer to stripe, from here to another place, always remember that you are enough, always recognise the impact you have on others, and know that nobody knows what you can be, and only you can become what is possible. You have choices to make, girls. So make the choice for your journey to be full of awe and wonder, optimism and hope and above all passion-driven.