Matt Allio 2021 Graduation Remarks
2021 Address to Graduates
Welcome, everyone, to the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 of Trinity School. I want to just take a moment to savor this view. I wish you could see precisely the view I have right now, standing on this stage. It’s quite remarkable.
I was talking with a teacher from the ECP about 30 minutes ago. The teacher said “Can you believe that we’re here?” That simple question, yet full of complexity, stopped me in my tracks. We are here. It’s beautiful. It’s remarkable.
I’d like to address the soon to be graduates. Our Grade 5 students.
I was walking through your classroom the other day after all of you had gone home. I found this book. This is a textbook on United States history (hold up textbook). It is published by the Oxford University Press. The author is Joy Hakim. It even won an award called the James Michener Aware in Writing. Make no mistake about it, in future textbooks, the years 2020 and 2021 will have their own chapters. Just like all of you 5th graders, you will have your own chapter and story.
I remember the time when I was in 5th grade. Not 3rd grade, not 8th grade, not 4th grade, but precisely 5th grade. I remember, vividly, the first moon landing, the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, what happened to them, and even a music festival called Woodstock. And, now, when I pick up a textbook, those events and people I mentioned are considered historical. While I understand why those events and people are considered history, they shaped me in many ways. Those events and those people helped me shape my voice.
So what in the world does that have to do with you, 5th graders?
Well, you’ve just been through and continue to go through a year like no other in your lifetime. I really don’t know how it’s going to impact you. But I can guarantee you this, it will be in an American history textbook.
And I can guarantee you this as well, as you head to middle school and in the next three years, something is going to give rise to your voice. You’re going to feel it inside of you. Deep inside of you.
Here is what I ask of you today. Please, please don’t leave your voice unheard. All of you are going to give speeches today, on this stage, but you have many more speeches inside of you, much more voice, that will rise up inside of you. Don’t leave that voice on this stage. Don’t leave it for a textbook.
You may wonder how you do that.
First, you must be educated. You have to be educated. You have to actually know what you’re talking about. We’ve done that well at Trinity. You are educated and you’ve been happy learning.
Second, you have to act. You have to do something with that knowledge. You must act.
Third, and this is where you need your voice the most and where it is most impactful. You have to organize others. That is where the difference is made – in organizing others through your leadership voice.
Be educated, take action, organize others. That takes voice. It’s not easy and sometimes you have to amplify your voice, just like today on stage. Take a look at your table, the one where you’re sitting. There’s a little black bag. Inside of that bag is a reminder. Go ahead, take out what’s in the bag. It’s a microphone. Not a play one, not a toy one, but a real one. And that’s to tell you, to remind you, that your voice is real and for you to use your voice. Put that microphone somewhere you will see it to remind your voice has meaning.
We don’t only want this year to be read about in a textbook. We want the lessons learned, and your middle school lessons learned, to give rise to your voice.
Congratulations Grade 5 students.