Tag Archives: Speech

Our Story Part II

It is late Sunday evening, and I don’t know when you might read this, but let me share a few highlights of the week. The following moments are parts of other people’s stories and mine.

My oldest son is in Baltimore for National FBLA competing in Public Speaking.

A coworker headed home for a family wedding as her marriage is in the process of ending.

My other son spent time in Indiana on a basketball trip with his high school team. They visited the Milan 1954 Hoosiers MuseumHoosiers gym, Butler University, and played a basketball game against a school also named Adams Central.

I spent a morning working in my new classroom (more on that later).

I attended the funeral for the son of a colleague.

Two of my daughters were in their first play, 101 Dalmatians Jr.

An instructor shared that her daughter moved into her home with her four kids because the daughter’s marriage was ending.

I finished an excellent graphic novel, I am Alfonso Jones. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Finished making the third movie of the trapped trilogy.

We attended a wedding for my niece. They dated for over four years.

Our Story

This past week was filled with stories: heartbreak, new beginnings, happiness, and history. It is incredible to think about all the stories being written right at this moment. Some filled with joy, while others are experiencing pain and heartache. Someone right now is trying to fight off doubt and fear, while at the same time a couple is welcoming a new child into the world.

A great story is not without pain or without love. I don’t know what words you are writing right now for your story. But I do know that your story is important, that the words are yours and they need to be written by you. There will always be plot twists that surprise us, but remember, you get to write the next scene… write from your heart.

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Losing Hurts and that is Good

A last second basketball shot

The photo above is a last second game winning 3-pointer in the championship game… for the other team. My second son is number 15 in the red uniform. He has never lost a game like that before.

Teen performing a speech

The picture above is my oldest son, performing serious prose for Speech. At districts he got third in one round, but got sixth in another. He didn’t qualify for finals.

As a dad it was hard to lessen the pain my sons felt after each of these moments. Even harder to explain the benefit of losing (blog post from 2011). I want them to know that character is built on both sides of the coin, winning and losing. I want them to know that it is important to feel the pain of defeat because it means that their heart was in it.  And honestly, I think that is the most important aspect to success.

Anyone can participate in a sport or activity. Some are even successful without ever putting their heart into it. I mean that they can win on talent alone, but that isn’t the only reason to be involved in an activity. Finding out who you are and expressing yourself through that activity is the greatest achievement.

No matter if we win or lose we have moments that reveal who we really are in our pursuit of our goals. Putting our heart into an activity allows us to become ourselves, to understand who we are. To be great as a person. I know I am their dad, but I am proud of the men my sons are becoming.

My oldest son got his first main role as a third grader. He was Charlie in Willy Wonka Jr.

Boy performing as Charlie

This year he choose to perform Sweeney Todd, one of his favorite plays, during Speech season. Next year he hopes to perform an original piece, plus compete in Poetry. I am proud of his strength to perform pieces that are true to his heart and not sell out in hopes of winning.

My second son started playing basketball in first grade.

boy dribbling ball

He has worked hard, from that first game when he would not move from his spot on the court when he was on defense, to playing with the NBDA Bison Green team. I am proud of his work ethic and focus on achieving his goals.

I am most proud of both of them for feeling the sting of defeat, because it means their hearts are in it, win or lose. And if they keep pursuing their goals with their heart, I know they will succeed, especially in life.

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National Honor Society Speech

Post Note: Last night I was honored to give the opening remarks for Centura’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony.  The following was my outline, my speech added some lines, forgot others, but the main idea is presented.

IMG_1210Good evening,

I am honored to speak at this year’s National Honor Society service.

Tonight I would like to talk about dictionaries.  I know, I’m in English teacher; give me a little leeway.

I actually want to talk about a metaphorical dictionary. (A metaphor is a direct comparison, usually indicated with the word is… a simile uses like or as)

This metaphor comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Speech “The American Scholar.”  His speech covers a number of different topics regarding learning, but one of his most powerful moments is when he expresses that “Life is our dictionary.”  He continues later in the speech with this insight, “I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech.”

Emerson is stating that we fill our lives, our dictionary, with the vocabulary we experience.  I want to expand on his idea for a few moments.  To investigate what words you already have in your dictionary and discuss the power of the words you have yet to write.

First, you already have a number of great words in your dictionary.

Your family is the base of many of these words.  Love, joy, sister, brother, mother and father.  They have developed the word family for you.  Your family has helped in understanding words like Christmas, vacation, pride.  They have helped define you… by giving you your name, and reinforcing the power of your middle name when you were in trouble.

Your teachers and coaches have also helped you write in words like education, learning, hard work, goals, and tardy.

But moments like this night reveal a truth, a change in the dictionary.  You are in the process of rewriting the definitions, of adventuring out to live your life, to write your own entries.

In the future you will enhance the entry for family. You will be the mother or father, an aunt or uncle.

You will take the entries of education from school and build the entry for wisdom.

But to be honest, a dictionary is not, and should not be simply filled with positive words.  Life is not that simple.  Do not be afraid to write in words like heartache, fear, or anger.  These are compliments to a life that risked loving someone with all your heart.  Fear shows you strived to do something out of your comfort zone.  Anger means you cared.

You will have words like regret, but that means you have dreams or goals.

You will feel overwhelmed, stressed, confused, and even lost.  But those words are part of life. They give weight to your life.  They give meaning to our moments.

This moment allows us the time to reflect on our dictionaries, to enter new words and tweak the entries that we have written.  Understand, that your life, your dictionary is always a work in progress.  And that you take a metaphorical pencil with you and strive to fill your dictionary with new words every day. Tonight you should work on the entries of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character but also happiness, family and friends, education and most of all honor. Congratulations.

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