Class of 2014, this past school year we used the theme from that passage - HOME - as a springboard for a deepening of our relationships with each other, with our school and with our God. Through our Household initiative and the inaugural Irish Cup Championship we intentionally forged ICS into a HOME this past year. Your leadership efforts, Class of 2014, contributed immensely to the success of Households. Without your commitment, dedication, and collective buy-in, the program would have flopped. Instead, thanks to you, it flourished.
So, I start by saying thank you.
Secondly, I congratulate you. We've just had a chance to celebrate all of your many accomplishments and to honor your time spent here at ICS. I speak for all of your parents, family members and teachers by saying how incredibly proud of you we are. Congratulations.
Thirdly, I offer to you an analogy. Prior to becoming a parent during your 5th grade year here at ICS, a friend of mine who had high school and college aged children gave me this piece of parenting advice: give your kids roots and wings.
I would venture to say that ICS, a place you lovingly referred to as HOME, has given you both roots and wings. No matter if you've been here since Kindergarten or if you just arrived last year, I hope that ICS has helped to instill in you the strength to do what you believe and the courage to believe in what you do. I hope that your time at ICS has given you roots and wings.
Roots. A sense of stability. An understanding that no matter what your passion - volleyball, music, scuba diving, film making, writing, technology, swimming, video gaming or animals - that you are obligated to make the world a better place. Roots of faith, family and knowledge. Roots that will allow you to stand firm in the face of adversity and no matter what types of storms may come your way. Roots that make you feel secure and grounded in an expectation and belief that because of your time spent here at ICS that you are forever a part of a family, a community of classmates, teachers and witnesses that will always refer to you as one of their own. Roots that run deep and wide, strong and thick. Roots that enable you to understand that you are a precious child of God. Roots that make you a champion - thanks to something deep inside of you, a dream planted in the depths of your heart, a desire initiated by Someone eternal, a vision of a better world (Muhammed Ali). Roots that encourage you to be yourself instead of becoming what other people want you to be. Roots that spring forth from the ground with life, driving you to become your best. Roots that let you know you have a voice - singing, writing, speaking - and that what you say matters "producing that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think" (Lord Byron).
Wings. The courage to leave behind the comforts of HOME and to go and make the world a better place. Wings that help you to soar with the belief that people with passion can change the world for the better (Steve Jobs). Wings that daringly shout that while science can ascertain what is, it cannot dictate what should be - that value judgments of all kinds remain necessary (Albert Einstein) and that you may be the person called upon to make them. Wings to go out and share your testimony and belief in Christ, to interact with nonbelievers and to share your spirit (Pope Francis I). Wings to fly away from the same old story and turn the page of your life to something new and unknown (Eli Young Band). Wings to paint the world with color so that no corner is left blank. Wings to empower others to be as AMAZING as you are, recognizing that there is no passion to be found in playing mediocre, in settling for a life that is less than the one you or others are capable of living (Nelson Mandela).
Roots and wings. Strength and courage. It's being a cantor at Mass, asking to DJ a school dance, teaching an adult a thing or two about sportsmanship - asking if every Priory could be declared a winner at the Irish Cup Championship, fighting for the Wounded Warriors Project, joining the Coast Guard, using your wealth, fame, prestige, influence or power to help other people. It's doing the one thing in this world that you were created to do, the thing that you need to do just as much as you need to breathe, and doing it so well that others are inspired by you. It's using your voice so that those without one can be heard. It's bringing humor, beauty and joy to a world so desperately in need of it. It's living out your Catholic faith and building God's kingdom with your lives.
So, Class of 2014, to paraphrase Phillip Phillips, hold on to ICS as you go, as you roll down this unfamiliar road, know you're not alone, for this will always be your HOME. May God continue to bless you and keep you and wherever this life may take you, whatever you find yourself doing, however far away from HOME your wings may take you, may you always remember your ICS roots and may you always serve the Lord. Class of 2014, we congratulate you, we will miss you. Good luck. God bless and GO IRISH.
*For access to the 8th grade speeches, visit the ICS Wiki Page: http://icsmedialiteracy.wikispaces.com/Student+Journals+13-14