The Class of 2021 voted on History Subject Expert Teachers Ms. Floyd and Dr. Hight to speak to their class on graduation day. Read Ms. Floyd and Dr. Hight's speech below!
Ms. Floyd: Congratulations, Class of 2021. You have finally made it to graduation! It is a privilege to look at all of your smiling faces – or should I say smiling eyes – and see how far you all have come.
Dr. Hight: For both Ms. Floyd and I, your grade was the first we taught at BASIS Independent McLean. When I think back to those first days at Convene – endless amounts of free snacks, classes in the hallways, lunch crammed into a room within mere inches of each other – I can’t help but marvel at the road you have traveled. You have studied, tested, competed, quarantined, and bonded. You have helped to build a school.
Ms. Floyd: Congratulations are in order. But we want to do more than congratulate, we want to recognize you for the amazing young people you have become. A stage in your life has come to an end. You are going to college. Leaving home. Becoming adults. We’ve done the best we can to prepare you. I know your parents have, too. But we’ll be honest, no one can ever really prepare you. That won’t stop us from trying!
Dr. Hight: These days there are how-to guides for everything, not to mention thousands of YouTube videos that will happily show how to demo your shed or lay tile or create a webpage. It’s easy. You just have to follow the simple steps. Anyone can do it!
Ms. Floyd: But there is no easy step-by-step guide to adulting. No manual for living a meaningful life. We don’t have all the answers, far from it, but we’re teachers; not having all the answers has never stopped us before! So allow us to offer one last lesson: A User’s Guide to Life.
Dr. Hight: I’m going to start with something very important that I learned relatively late in life. When you go to a restaurant and they give you a breadbasket, no matter how delicious that bread may be – even if it’s soft, doughy, infused with rosemary and steaming when you break it open – only eat one piece.
Ms. Floyd: But also– take free food whenever you can! If you are where the free food is, you are probably where people are. And that’s important! You’ve spent the last year quarantined and streaming shows. Get out of your comfort zone, get comfortable with being uncomfortable socially. Go to whatever social you can, meet new people, and remember what it is like to interact with humanity.
Dr. Hight: But know when to call it a night. Here’s a solid rule of thumb: if you have work or class the next day and it’s 1:00 AM, it’s time to go to bed. Because you need sleep. And you also need to get up at a reasonable time. I like to read memoirs of successful people. The French novelist Balzac famously got up at 1:00 AM and worked until 8:00 AM every morning! Lebron James wakes up at 5:00 AM every day and hits the gym. Kamala Harris, she gets up at 6, works out, and is at work by 7. I have yet to read about a great success who gets up after 9:00 AM. You may be thinking, hah, hah, 9:00 AM. I have one word for you: college.
Ms. Floyd: Schedule when you are going to study, when your classes are, when you socialize, when you are on TikToc, when you eat, and when you sleep. And whatever you do, study somewhere other than your dorm room. This is a great time to find your favorite library or a fun new coffee shop.
Dr. Hight: Bathe. Regularly. Brush your teeth. Do your laundry at least once every two weeks. And that doesn’t mean take it to you parent’s house and have them do it. Get a hair cut. In short, look like someone who cares. Do students often show up to class in sweats with a mop of hair, a scraggly beard, and certain "Je ne sais quoi" that hints of pizza and stale beer? Sure. Should you? No. If you want to be taken seriously, look the part.
Ms. Floyd: Travel whenever you can. If it is across the ocean, or even just across town. Open yourself up to new experiences. Traveling is one of the few things that makes us poorer, yet so much richer. Take the chance to travel whenever you can and remind yourself how big the world is.
Dr. Hight: Be brave. If you want to do great things – if you want to be a success – you must be willing to risk failure. Let me be clear: I’m not saying don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid. Be very afraid. But do it anyway. That’s what it means to be brave. Take your fear and use it to push you to prepare more, to work harder. And you know what, you will still fail sometimes. That’s ok. The road to any success is paved with failures overcome.
Ms. Floyd: And it starts with small every-day actions that can make a lasting impact. Don’t under-estimate the importance of small acts of kindness. Smile at everyone you pass, hold the door open for someone, and introduce yourself to the other student eating alone. Start small and the larger ripples will follow.
Dr. Hight: In fact, start small is a great motto for all aspects of life:
Dr. Hight: Debt.
Ms. Floyd: Your first car.
Dr. Hight: Your first apartment.
Ms. Floyd: Dessert.
Dr. Hight: Even relationships. Start small. Nurture them if you want them to grow. A relationship is not a series of transactions with a balance sheet, so don’t keep score. There will be plenty of opportunities to do so, starting – for many of you – with your college roommate.
The number of times they stay up late when you want to sleep. Check. Check. Check. The number of times they leave sweaty gym clothes on the bathroom floor. Check. Check. The number of times they play loud music when you are trying to study. Check, check, check, check check. (Even worse my roommate used to sing U2 offkey with his headphones on.) Annoying? Sure.
But maybe your roommate doesn’t clean because they are depressed and miss home and are struggling to adapt to a new place. My roommate sang because he was stressed and that was his outlet. Don’t count up little annoyances. Instead, try to understand.
Ms. Floyd: But also, know when to run. Do not sacrifice who you are or your own wellbeing. Know yourself, know your boundaries, and know when it is time to stick out or when it is time to get out. Because you need to be kind to yourself, too. You are going to mess up, you are going to disappoint yourself. Do not be harsh on yourself. Treat yourself like someone you care about and that you are responsible caring for. Be your biggest and most supportive fan.
Dr. Hight: And here is one last pieces of advice from two people who spent the last six minutes or so telling you how to live your life: don’t let anybody tell you how to live your life. There is no person you are meant to be, or have to be. No thing you are meant to do, or have to do. Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about making yourself. This is a little bit terrifying. It means you have to make choices. Choices that matter. About what you do. How you live. Who you love. We can’t tell you what the right choices are. No one can. But we can tell you this: have the courage to choose.
Ms. Floyd: Today marks the end of something you have worked so hard for. You’ve had moments of heartache, moments of joy, and everything in between. Remember, with every ending starts a new beginning. Have a willing attitude for whatever may come your way next. You may not always be able to control the plot, but you can control your story by making the most of what you are given. We wish you all nothing but the best as you go forth to write your next chapter.