Dear Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff and Esteemed Board Members:
This is a very special day, a moment of many emotions, of enormous satisfaction and of beautiful memories that I know are an important part of your present, as well as your future.
When I look at each and every one of you, I think back in time nine years ago, on the day of your Kindergarten graduation. Everyone wore little white gowns. How can I forget that I had to bend down to give you your continuation diplomas. Today, it was the other way around: most of you bent down to receive your diploma and gave me a hug. I remember that, during that kinder graduation, I thanked your parents for their commitment and for the great support they had given us during their first year at our school. Even at that time, I also told you that you still had many years of learning in our school, even though we still did not know that years later we would have a middle school. Now, look where we are after all these years: celebrating the culmination of your last school year.
I remember, when you were in kindergarten, when you began that new stage of your learning process: learning to interact with new classmates in a new space, learning to read, to write, to organize with new tasks, with backpacks, lunch boxes, tie your shoelaces, not to eat your snack thinking it was your lunch, to go to my office to talk. How happy it makes me to think back on your innocence, daily occurrences, unfiltered questions that made you so honest and transparent that it made us smile. How nice it was to recognize the innate wisdom that each and every one of you had.
Since that time, when you were still very young, many of you loved going to visit me at my office, some even to this day. Everyone who knows my office knows that I have several images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in all colors and made with different materials, but there is a very special image that one of you drew while you spent some time in my office when you were in elementary. It is a drawing on a piece of paper, which may seem simple, but which is very special. I didn't manage to fully grasp the meaning of it at that moment, but the Virgin helped me do it later on. I will always remember when this student gave it to me, that little face of a child with that nice smile that he has preserved up to now.
Girls and boys, in all these years, we have had and shared so many experiences together from which we have all learned. We have spent so many moments: happy, funny, sad, of conflicts, of harmony, of agreements and disagreements, some visiting me in my office, but finally all moments of learning, of companionship with a lot of love and dedication. It has been beautiful to see you, from such a young age, learning to be autonomous, independent, to think critically, to support others, to serve the community, to assume the consequences of your actions. You have been growing and maturing through your own life experiences in a safe environment, with values, challenges and the warmth of a second home.
This is a very special moment for you, for your parents, for your teachers, for our leaders, for me and, above all, for the history of Escuela de Guadalupe, since you are our first 8th graders that graduate from our school. You are a dream come true especially for all of our founders, like Father Tom Prag and Sister Susan Swain, who since the founding of our school always did what was within their reach and a little more to fulfill their desire to accompany the learning process of the children until the 8th grade.
It has been a long road that we have traveled with a lot of effort. To get here has involved the investment of a lot of time and dedication by very valuable people with a very special gift who kept their faith and worked tirelessly through that wonderful vocation of service and conviction that education, with the objective of our vision, will generate well-being for our students and the community. On this path, members of our Board of Directors along with our leaders David Card, Jack Pottle and Sister Vicki have always given their unconditional support. Their constant commitment with the decisions that they have to make, above all things, to decide and do what is best for each of you and for each of our students while always being firmly rooted in our mission has been of enormous importance.
In the same way, I must acknowledge and thank the support and enormous effort provided by all of your teachers throughout these nine years. I am convinced that each one of them has left an important mark in your life. Their support has been fundamental to all of your achievements. That great vocation, dedication and commitment to their profession, to their work, to the learning process of each and every one of you has achieved an integral formation in all of you.
Also, in a very special way, I want to express to your parents, pillars of your education and formation, a full and deep appreciation for all of their commitment and faith in the mission and education that our school offers. And, as I have always said, without your support, parents, we could not achieve our goals that go hand in hand with our mission. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, for all of these years of support in the responsibilities that your daughters and sons had to fulfill, such as the activities or tasks that were part of the bilingualism process, the work, the readings, their attendance, punctuality (despite the distances they had to cover to get around), compliance with the schedule, presentations in Spanish and English, among many other responsibilities, as well as the commitment of volunteer hours at our most important events.
Boys and girls, it is really beautiful and very rewarding to see how you have grown, in your learning, taking responsibility for your own actions, applying the values that you have internalized throughout all these years such as excellence, faith, respect, justice, leadership and community. You have been growing and maturing to move to another stage of your lives. Your learning process will continue throughout life, but today you are prepared to face new challenges; to defend your ideas and ideals with conviction: to seek dialogue; to apply all of your knowledge and academic skills in order to generate well-being; to serve others; to respect and value cultural and linguistic diversity and to use Spanish and English as an instrument of cultural integration; to value, admire and maintain your own roots; to continue living and strengthening your faith; to act with humility and compassion; and to fulfill your role as leaders of tomorrow.
Now you have a great responsibility not only to achieve your own goals and future achievements, but also to continue to prepare and serve your own community. Remember, a leader must always be willing to serve using his/her knowledge and skills to guide and help their people to advance one step forward, to act humbly so that he/she has the ability to listen and learn from his/her mistakes and thus improve, be compassionate to be willing to help and support others by removing all barriers that often make us insensitive to the needs of others. I know that the strength of our faith, and the constant presence of God and the Virgin in our lives, help us come back to our roots, beliefs and values, and illuminates our path.
We know that farewells cause nostalgia and a bit of sadness, but knowing that you have been able to enjoy and learn throughout your school experience fills us, above all, with satisfaction and joy. It is a great opportunity that opens a new door to demonstrate everything you can do and achieve, and, above all, to be aware that you are unique and that there are many possibilities to achieve and share success, peace and happiness.
Now, I end by saying: Go! Fly high! Enjoy every experience, every moment. Appreciate, reflect and be grateful for everything that allows you to grow. Share everything you already know as good Guadalupanos. Remember that you are unique and special.
May the Virgin of Guadalupe bless you and protect you under her mantle in this new stage of life. We love you very much and you will always be in our hearts and prayers.