My 8th Grade Closing Speech: Don't Cry Because It's Over, Smile Because It Happened
For three years you have been under the care of the middle school and now I am sad to see you go. A few weeks ago Zoe was walking in the courtyard and as our paths crossed I happened to say to her, “You know, Zoe, I am really going to miss you guys.” I could see the astonishment in her face when she looked at me kind of puzzled and replied, “Really? Even after all of the bad things we did?” Then I said, “Yes, despite all of that, I will really miss you.”
I agonized about what to say today - not because I didn’t have anything to say but because I had too much to say. As I was contemplating how to give you a proper send off, I was reminded of a well-known quote by Dr. Seuss:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
And I thought about it. And I thought some more and it made sense. So today, class, I am smiling because it happened.
And I am smiling for all of the moments we’ve shared together over these last three years:
I smile because you hounded me for two years to see if I was ever going to shadow you for the day.
I smile for all of the times I threatened to shave your hair like mine if you ever did anything wrong. I smile because I never had to.
I smile knowing that some of you ran your fastest race the last time you raced.
I smile knowing you went to Marine Lab, Camp Sparta and DC.
I smile knowing you won. I smile knowing that despite a loss, you played really hard.
I smile because you’ve given up your weekends to give back to the community.
I smile because I got to see you perform in a concert or show.
I smile knowing that the upper school won’t allow one of your parents to bring in whatever it was that you left at home.
I smile because I was actually asked to dance at the dance - I turned it down of course.
I smile because you welcomed the new students with open arms these last two years. I smile because although you have only been at PTS one year, you have made a lasting impact in the class or on the sports field (especially lacrosse).
I smile knowing you completed your Eagle Scout project.
I smile knowing that as my son’s reading buddy, you gave my son something to look forward to in elementary school and you said hi to him every time he was on campus here with me.
I smile because you learned so much over these last three years and had amazing teachers and advisors along the way.
I smile because I know the vast majority of you will move onto the upper school here and I will get to see you continue with greatness.
I smile because your sibling that is sitting in the audience right now is going to come here for MS next year. I smile because they will be just as great as you (or maybe even better)
I smile because I know those of you leaving are going to do great things elsewhere. I smile because I will hopefully see you again.
I smile because I know I am better at Fortnite than you are.
I smile because you are going on the PTS Europe War and Peace Travel with me and we leave on Saturday. I smile because today is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the lives lost were not in vain. I smile because the brave soldiers, including many of our fathers or grandfathers, helped secure the freedoms we are so blessed to have.
I smile because you did the right thing when others didn’t.
I smile because you finally got caught with your cell phone out with only a few weeks of school left. I don’t smile because you got in trouble - I smile knowing that you won’t ever do that again.
I smile because you came to Palmer Trinity School.
I smile because you fist bump me in the hallway - something that you initiated.
I smile because you sang or spoke today.
I smile because you smile.
I smile because your artwork is inspirational.
I smile because if you were here in sixth grade, I had the opportunity to teach you in the discovery wheel.
I smile because this is my job and I get to live this every day.
But you know what else, I smile just to feel happy.
American philosopher and psychologist William James once said,
“IF YOU WANT A QUALITY, ACT AS IF YOU ALREADY HAVE IT.”
If you want to feel happy, start smiling.
Try it. Start smiling. Everyone. Right now. Smile.
Doesn’t it make you feel better? I do it all the time in the hallway when no one is looking.
But you know what else, 8th Grade class, if you want to achieve THE greatness I see in you, act as if you are already great.
If you want to be kind, lend a hand.
If you want to find friendship, be a friend.
If you want to rise above selfishness, think about others.
If you want to see change, be the catalyst.
If you want to be happy, start smiling.
Smile. Smile because you are happy this all happened. Smile because your journey through middle school is over. Smile because you are now going into 9th grade. Don’t cry, 8th grade students, because it’s over. Smile because it happened.