June 15th, 2012
Delivered by David Hamilton, Principal of the Upper School
June 14th, 2012
Now, before we launch into our achievements, I should let you know that I have been given an assignment. Yes, many weeks ago, when I was young and the buds still hung on their branches, Mr. Jones came to me with an assignment.
As we two lounged on a lime green couch, surrounded by the silence of white-washed walls, he turned to me and said – for he often spoke first:
“David, I have an assignment for you to do”
And of course I asked:
“When is it due”
“At the closing”, he replied.
And then, as though the dams had burst, a hundred questions flowed down from the top of my cranium making their way into the frontal lobes, where I was able to throw out the anxious questions such as: would there be late marks? would I receive a rubric ahead of time? and what criteria would I be assessed on? – and I then focused on the most important question – what exactly is my assignment?
And he smiled, as Mr. Jones is want to smile, that Cheshire smile that tells me he enjoys the very thought he holds there in suspension betwixt his ears.
“I want you to provide a history of the previous year”
What!, I gasped, a complete history of the world. The lives of 7 billion inhabitants of the earth and 195 countries coursed through my mind – sadly, too quickly for me to write down any details.
“Yes, tell us about what happened in the Upper School” he added.
Whew! Now that was a homework assignment I could relate to. It put me, the principal, at the centre of my learning.
I sprang from the couch and rushed to find my sources and compile my bibliography.
But wait. I was missing one thing. What was my guiding question to be?
I brainstormed. The activity in my brain was electrifying. How about:
“To what extent was the Upper School an absolute monarchy? Discuss.”
“Analyse the causes of the grad prank and hypothesize as to why the prank did not lead to a school-wide revolt.”
These questions were far too high in the taxonomy of thinking for me to handle, so I settled on a much simpler question: “What exactly did we do this year?”
Like any good York School student I did my research, I used authoritative sources, I used a Google doc, I organized my notes, and I came up with the following findings:
I found that:
We raced Pinewood derby cars, engineered robots, fashioned lanterns for charity, constructed sandwiches, and danced at a Masquerade Ball.
We slept in winter tents, hunted gargoyles, mushed dogs, busted myths, swung from high ropes, and pretended to be John A. MacDonald, Stephen Lewis, Bono, Romeo and Juliet, Benedict and Beatrice, the countries of Europe and the President of Swaziland.
We raced around this amazing city, descended into Brick Works, climbed mountains in British Columbia, saw the sun rise in Newfoundland, painted sunsets in Killarney, made friends in Quebec, debated in Australia, watched lions devour their prey in Tanzania, played Kabaddi in India, made music in England and France, and took the trip of a lifetime.
We dropped eggs, dissected frogs, embalmed chickens, captured flags, investigated crime scenes, battled artists, acted in the park, and designed and built chairs that were environmentally friendly and physically stable.
We busked on the street, painted graffiti on walls, wrote for the Stand, wielded a Viking burial sword and proved that we are more talented than some other nearby independent schools.
We put on TEDx for IB, put out PSAs, formed a GSA, watched YorkTV, followed DP and MYP, prepared for SATs, and even made an appearance on the CBC.
We raced for dignity, ran for Terry, gathered dresses for proms, collected food for the hungry, wrestled one another for United Way, washed cars for India, made art for aids, ran obstacles for Ooch, and baked lots and lots of yummy treats.
We got to know Donald MacDonald, Carolyn Bennett, Monsieur Lacharite, Craig and Mark Kielberger, the men of Colgate, the Good Person of Schezchuan, a bad person in Macbeth, and an interesting person in Picasso.
We won big at Kiwanis, in Mandarin, debating, public speaking, volleyball, soccer, staff-student basketball games, and ultimately, Ultimate.
So, that constitutes my findings. Now you ask, “But Mr. Hamilton, you have to have a thesis; you have to do some analysis and come up with a conclusion. How else will you get marks for Thinking and Inquiry”
Okay, then… here is my analysis:
Some say “You are what you eat”. I think that is ridiculous, none of you look anything like our cafeteria food. But I think I can say “You are what you do.” Because what you are to the world, is what you do in the world. Above all, the world will remember your actions.
So if you are what you do, and you did all of that, I can conclude that you must be pretty amazing. In fact, I think I have proved that you are:
caring, principled, balanced, open-minded, knowledgeable, and reflective
You must be inquirers, thinkers, Risk takers, and communicators.
And as you have all of those attributes, you are among the best IB students in the world.
And even if my assignment doesn’t get me an IB 7, I know that all of you deserve an IB 7.
I want to congratulate you and thank you for an incredible year. I am proud of all of your accomplishments.
And where there are accomplishments, there must be awards.
…So let the awards begin