The Senior Prank

It seems a day doesn’t pass in late May when I don’t read a story about a senior prank that is mean, destructive, or divisive.  The EAB Class of 2022, however, created a prank that included hundreds and hundreds of their baby pictures and balloons.  It was funny, harmless, good-willed, and charming.

Last year’s EAB Seniors faced many challenges over their high school years and remained unified, resilient, and strong through it all. What they accomplished is remarkable and they earned the EAB Community’s respect and admiration for reaching such a major milestone in their lives with such grace.

More importantly, and as their prank so clearly demonstrates, they deserve our gratitude for how well they represented EAB and for who they are: warm, caring, thoughtful, and kind individuals who love and respect their school, their peers, and their teachers.

Since their prank, the members of the Class of 2022 have received their diplomas, flipped their tassels, and, as I write in late August, are literally all over the globe positively impacting their new communities as alumni of The American School of Brasilia. 

 I speak on behalf of the entire EAB Community when I say that we couldn’t be more proud.

Thank you EAB Class of 2022 and congratulations!

The Buoyancy of Hope

Much of this blog was written in mid-September of 2020.  For reasons that should become clear below, I never finished or published the post.  At the time of the writing, I had recently finished reading Erik Larson’s book The Splendid and the Vile and I couldn’t remember enjoying a book more.  

The story focuses on Winston Churchill and his family during the Blitz.  While Churchill is at the center, Larson also brings to life the time period from the Nazi point of view, using personal journals and notes of meetings of top Nazi officials to elucidate the reality of the war from Berlin. Larson’s storytelling and attention to detail are exceptional. It is an incredible read.   

The central lesson I took away from the book at the time, and one that I felt applied to all of us leading our schools through the pandemic, was the need for leaders to skillfully balance honesty and hope. 

Churchill’s candor about the daunting challenges his island faced during the Blitz, mixed with an unending sense of hope and confidence in ultimate victory, were evident throughout The Splendid and the Vile.  One of Churchill’s most famous lines, taken from his speech to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940, demonstrates with absolute clarity the hardship ahead when he states, “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” It is a dark message wholly appropriate for the time.  

In the last line of the same speech, however, Churchill demonstrates the optimism that gave hope to millions by saying, “But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
Though separated in the original speech, these two lines are combined for dramatic purpose in a scene from the film The Darkest Hour, included below. 

I finished my never-to-be-published post in the fall of 2020 with the following: 

What more can we do as leaders than to trust our communities enough to give them an honest assessment of the challenges brought forth by the coronavirus, while at the same time providing a message of “buoyancy and hope” about the great work we are doing to support our students and families during these uncertain times.  

Though it will be hard and the challenges ahead are daunting, we will get through this and will be better for it when we come out on the other side.  

Looking back now, I feel naive for having written those words.  I didn’t grasp at the time how hard it was actually going to be to get our schools through the pandemic.  I had little conception of how daunting and nuanced the challenges would be.  

Now that some of us seem to be reaching “the other side”, I wonder if we would agree that we are “better” for having gone through the pandemic.  Through tremendous effort, EAB has managed to remain fully open the entire school year.  A few weeks ago, we went mask-optional and are incredibly appreciative of it.  It’s so nice to see people’s faces again.  But are we better due to having gone through covid?  I’m not sure.  

And two years on from the start of the coronavirus, we find ourselves in another moment of crisis and once again look to a Churchillian figure, this time in the form of a former Ukrainian TV star turned president, to give us both an honest assessment and a sense of hope in this dark, despairing hour.  

And though we will never face the trials of Churchill then or Volodymyr Zelensky now, as leaders of our schools the importance of the lesson they teach remains: we owe it to our communities to face the challenges we do encounter with clarity, candor, and “the buoyancy of hope.” 

David

So My Student Asks, “WHY MUST OUR CAMERAS STAY ON?”

EAB opened to 2020-2021 school year on August 3 via distance learning. The purpose of this post it to use our experiences in the opening weeks as a means to help smooth the opening for other schools in Brazil and around the world.

Each week I make a two to four minute video about to discuss with the parents and students of the High School a matter of importance or interest to the EAB Community.  Usually the videos include students and happen on our campus.  During distance learning, however, they happen in my backyard under our mango tree.  My daughter Nina is often the camerawoman.  

A few weeks ago I addressed a question prevalent on our campus during distance learning as to why we require students to keep their cameras on during synchronous instruction.  There are a number of reasons why we do this, but in order to keep the video at two minutes I kept my response to what we feel is the most important of those reasons.  See above or click here to see that response. 

Good luck and best regards,

David

A Class Like No Other: A Graduation Night Speech to the Class of 2020

My speech to the Class of 2020 was exceptionally easy to write.  Much of it, if I’m honest, was plagiarized from my previous speeches to other graduation classes.  What was new came easily as well because of how great the Class of 2020 had handled the loss of the second half of their final year at EAB.  Writing about their grace and persistence in the face of frustration and uncertainty was both humbling and enjoyable.  It was fun putting words to celebrate such great young men and women and I was done with my speech in 15 minutes.

Giving the speech, however, was cumbersome and hard.  Because of the coronavirus we were forced to have graduation at a local drive and therefore the ceremony needed to be recorded well before the event and then be transformed into a movie to be shown on the big screen on the Seniors final night as EAB Students.  I therefore gave my speech to an empty auditorium 10 days before the ceremony.  As my colleague and fellow speaker, Andy Jones, noted in his words to the Seniors, “Things get weird now not only because this is the first time in two months I’ve put on a pair of pants, but also because right now I am in the auditorium on a Wednesday afternoon, giving a speech to a camera, pretending you’re out there 10 days from now at a drive in movie theater. To make things even more weird, when this speech is shown I will be sitting in my car watching the whole thing happen at the same time you are.”

The day I gave the speech I forgot to wear socks, which necessitated some unwelcome editing challenges.  I also didn’t know whether to look straight at the camera or to speak to an imaginary audience (I chose the latter and after watching my speech am not sure it was the right call).   Finally, and most importantly, I think all speakers feed off the energy and emotion of the audience and it was a challenge to speak to the Seniors with all the meaning I hoped to without them there.

The Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 was a success.  The kids loved it, their families appreciated how hard we worked to make the event meaningful and memorable, and we were proud of what we together accomplished as the EAB Community.  What is most important, however, is that the amazing young men and women of the EAB Class of 2020 overcame all obstacles and unprecedented challenges to earn their right to be proud, confident EAB Alumni.  

You can watch my speech, given in the empty auditorium, above, via YouTube via this link or read it below.

David

Seniors,

For the past six years I have stood on this stage on graduation night and said essentially the same words to graduating Seniors.  They are words I hope are filled with meaning, hope, pride, and joy.  

This year is different, however, and you are a class like no other.  Don’t get me wrong, you are similar in many ways to the other groups who have graduated while I have been at EAB.  Just like those classes, you are great kids who love your school and your classmates. Just like the other graduates, you are filled with promise and hope.  Just like them you are excited to enter the next phase of your life and ready to take on the world.  Still, you are a class like no other.  

In his book 1776, David McCullough quotes Abigail Adams, who, when speaking about George Washington states, “Consternation is a good man’s shining time.” In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw tells us that the hardship and suffering caused by the Great Depression and World War II allowed the Americans who lived through those times to show their best when their best was needed and this made the great.  The point is that sometimes struggle and loss bring out the best in people and allow them to rise to the moment with courage and grace.   Bair, what does any of that have to do with us, you might ask. 

Please understand that I’m not saying that what you have gone through this semester somehow equates to fighting the Nazis or living through the crushing poverty of the Great Depression.  In the face of the tremendous suffering wrought by the coronavirus, you know how lucky you are and how good you have it. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that you have lost a lot in the past 10 weeks and have not gotten to be a part of many of the traditions and rites of passage that make the last weeks at EAB truly memorable.  You have suffered, and through that suffering you have defined yourselves in a way no other class from EAB ever has.  

I imagine there were times in the past months when you were scared, frustrated, and didn’t want to get out of bed.  But you got out of bed and got on with it. 

I imagine there were times when you didn’t want to do the work in front of you and couldn’t see the point of it all.  But you pulled yourself together and took care of your business. 

I imagine there were times when you wanted to shut the door and close out the world.  Instead, you took care of each other, loved each other, and helped each other to get through this ordeal together.  

You see that in this unprecedented time you have had the opportunity to demonstrate all of the virtues that we hope for in all EAB Students in a way that no other class has had the opportunity to do. And with that opportunity you have been responsible, resilient, courageous, and, most importantly, compassionate.  You have demonstrated, as no other class ever could, what makes The American School of Brasilia great.  As your principal, I thank you.  

As you know, I have three young kids and for that reason I have watched Frozen II many, many times.  I am a fan.  In the movie, the snowman, Olaf, makes the point that water has memory, and, ultimately, that memory saves Olaf in the end.  Like water, schools have memory and your contribution to the EAB Story in the year 2020, the year when you overcame the coronavirus and demonstrated with great clarity all that makes EAB great, will live in that memory and in the EAB Culture forever.  

But what about tonight?  Well, tonight you earn EAB’s greatest honor when you receive the High School Diploma from the American School of Brasília.  Our diploma symbolizes the successful completion of a comprehensive educational program that embodies what we believe as educators and what EAB stands for as an institution. Tonight we celebrate you for earning this honor. 

So enjoy today and enjoy this special time in your life.  But while you celebrate what has been accomplished, don’t be fooled into thinking you did it alone.  For as much as this ceremony is a celebration of today and the possibility of tomorrow, it is also a night to honor those who helped you along the way.  You are here tonight not only due to your talent and hard work, but also because you had people around you – teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, family and especially parents – who gave you support, guided you when you erred, celebrated when you won and loved you when you failed.  They were with you every step of the way and so as you look to the future please be sure to honor your past and those who helped you arrive at where you are today.  

In a few minutes, you will no longer be EAB students and completely out of my sphere of influence, so I am going to use my short time to make two final requests: first, PLEASE thank your teachers for the tremendous work they have done to help get you to today.  

Finally, thank the people who love you most in this world and forever will: your parents.  You will never understand how much your parents love you, and what a big moment this is for them, until you have children of your own.  So please, take a moment now to thank your parents.  

And now you head out into the world.  You are ready.  What’s more, I speak on behalf of the entire High School Faculty when I say that we are proud of you, proud of who you are, proud of what you have accomplished, and thankful that we got to share this important time in your lives with you.  

And as you now strike out to make your way in the world we hope for you happiness.  We hope for you love. We hope for you peace and joy.  We hope for you passion and purpose.  We hope you accomplish your heart’s desire.  We hope you find the courage within yourself to be kind and the strength to be persistent. Finally, we hope – we believe – you will continue to represent this school well and that throughout your lives you will leave each place you touch a bit better for your having been there.  

Congratulations, EAB Class of 2020!

An Idea For The First Day of School: The Zoom Support Room.

August 10, 2020

Opening a school year online is hard.  Really hard.  

In a normal year at EAB there are a lot of moving parts as, due to the high number of students who come from embassies, we have between 15 and 20% change in our high school population each August.  That reality was compounded  this year not only due to distance learning, but also by the fact that in the runup to the opening of school our leadership team and new teacher cohort were working from four continents and a 15 hour time difference.  We also had new families and students who had not yet arrived in Brazil and were spread across the United States and the world.  

Our team worked incredibly hard to make sure our opening on August 3 would be smooth and I was confident it was going to be a good start to the year. Still, heading into the final weekend before school began there were a lot of questions around new student schedules, Zoom links for classes, and other details that are difficult to manage remotely.  It was frustrating and more than a bit stressful and at one point on Saturday I thought to myself, “If we were on campus and the new kids could just go to the counselor’s office, sit with a friendly face, and sort things out, all of these problems would go away.” 

And then it hit me.  

We have the power to create a virtual counselor’s office via Zoom that can serve the exact same purpose. With that in mind, I created a day long Zoom meeting called the Zoom Support Room and invited principals, counselors, the deans of students and academics, special services professionals, the IB Coordinator and the EAB Tech Team to the meeting.  We then shared the Zoom link with our faculty, students, parents, and leadership with the message that if on Monday morning any student was confused about an aspect of the opening of school, they should be sent to the support room. 

Throughout Monday morning students and parents entered the support room.  As they did, we had a number of co hosts who would greet them, ask their name and grade, and then send them to breakout rooms where one of our faculty would meet them to attend to their individual needs.  We were quite busy throughout the morning but it was so very nice to meet our new students, talk with their families, and give them some peace of mind in a stressful moment for their families.  By Tuesday morning the traffic in the support room became a trickle and virtually all of the glitches were solved. 

The Zoom Support Room was a great success and the appreciation shown by families and students was profound.  I know at EAB we open a bit earlier than most other schools and so I thought to write in the hopes that colleagues in Brazil and around the world might adapt the idea to their needs.  I wish all of you the very best for the start of the school year.  

David

A Toast From the Class of 2019

The High School Faculty has ended each week of distance learning with a brief organizational meeting, and, when the work day is done at 4:01, a toast.  It is hard to explain to those who haven’t seen it firsthand how hard EAB Teachers have worked to ensure that learning continues during the coronavirus pandemic and the toast has become a wonderful “tradition” that has allowed us to celebrate each other and end the week with a shared laugh.  

One week our Irish colleagues gave the toast.  Another it was the English.  On another Friday, the EAB Board of Directors joined the meeting to toast our teachers. 

As one would expect, the Brazilians were the first to introduce music, video and dance to the toast with Tom Jobim’s “The Wave”. To follow up, Mr. Blanton and Mr. Edelson used the theme song of “The Golden Girls” to frame their toast. The next week, the first year teachers did a rendition of “Hangin Tough” by The New Kids on the Block.  

Though all of the toasts have been meaningful, funny, and beautiful testaments to the bond shared by the EAB Community, on Friday, May 15, something happened that took our collective breath away.  

At the suggestion of a faculty member, I invited two members of the Class of 2019, Yasmin and Malik Abbas, to join our meeting and give a toast of thanks to their former teachers.  I was excited to see Yasmin and Malik and knew that my colleagues would be as well.  It was going to be a good toast.  

As the meeting neared its end and the time for the toast arrived, I saw Malik and Yasmin enter the Zoom waiting room.  To my surprise, I saw another member of the Class of 2019 enter as well.  I let them in, and, as expected, everyone was thrilled to see their former students.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was that as I listened to Yasmin and Malik I kept seeing familiar names, names of members of the Class of 2019, entering the Zoom waiting room.  

Unbeknownst to me, in the time between when I asked Yasmin and Malik to give the toast, they had contacted their classmates and invited them to the toast as well.  And they came.  They came from Europe and Asia, from the Middle East and the United States, from São Paulo and Brasilia. All in all, well over half of the class showed up to demonstrate their appreciation for the HS Faculty from EAB. 

The toasts usually last five minutes and then everyone begins their weekend.  Last Friday, the toast lasted much, much longer as the Faculty laughed and reminisced about our shared experiences as Bulls. I left after 30 minutes to have dinner with my family but kept the meeting open so others could stay on.  When I returned an hour later I was surprised to see a number of the students still on the Zoom call.  They just didn’t want their time together to end. 

We believe that we have a special community at EAB. It’s hard to miss the warmth and care that we have for each other.  Every once in a while, however, something happens that confirms all that we believe about who we are and the truly wonderful nature of the EAB Community.  The toast from the Class of 2019 was one of those moments and I thank them for taking the time to return to their school and brighten the lives of their teachers.  

As I have said many times in my years at EAB, it is always a great time to be a Bull.   

The Importance of Language and How We Speak to Each Other

A fascinating book called Sister Revolutions: French Lightning and American Light by Dr. Susan Dunn provides an interesting comparison of the American and French Revolutions. According to Dunn, one of the factors that allowed the American revolutionaries’ to successfully write a constitution and form a working government was the very strict guidelines the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention placed on what language was appropriate when addressing other members of the Convention.  The delegates knew that to compromise on the incredibly complex and emotional topics laid before them, the manner with which they spoke to each other had to be of a very formal, polite manner.

 The French Revolution, in Dunn’s view, deteriorated into extreme violence and chaos in part because the leaders rejected decency and kindness between leaders with different views and used vitriolic and incendiary language to punish political foes.

Dunn’s point is that language we use, and the way we use it, when dealing with problems is of utmost importance. If we are to solve the challenges facing us as a society it is imperative we speak with and act towards each other with restraint and respect.

In recent years political, social and cultural differences, often fueled by the internet and social media, have led to an increase in hurtful language, and, quite often, meanness. A recent controversy over a tweet by actor Jim Carrey makes the point.  No matter where one falls on the political spectrum or how one views the current leadership of the United States, Carrey’s tweet was mean and unhelpful in furthering constructive conversation.  Dunn’s thinking, combined with the meanness in daily discourse in larger society, has led me to reflect on my own understanding of our community, education, and our school.

The art and science of educating the next generation is incredibly complex.  This is so because teaching and learning are very personal processes that often lay bare both our strengths and weaknesses as students, teachers and leaders. Parents also have tremendous emotional ties to schooling as their children confront the challenges of growing as learners and human beings.  To complicate the situation further, EAB educates students from close to 50 countries who have different languages, religions, cultural norms and expectations for the work of schools. In this context there is a high chance that at some point there will be insecurity, disagreement and frustration.

In this emotional atmosphere it is crucial that we remember Dunn’s lesson that the way we speak to each other matters.  The way we treat each other matters. The way we confront problems matters. At The American School of Brasilia we demand that we treat each other kindly through a strict adherence to the highest standards for language and respect when addressing the complex challenges that we will face.  This is the EAB way and it is explicit in our core documents and values:

From the EAB Upper School Honor Code:

“…(we) give our pledge to  live by the guiding principles of responsibility and respect in all we say and do.”

“We commit to treat all people with compassion…”

From The Rights of EAB Community Members:

“All members of the EAB Community must be spoken to in a respectful manner at all times.”

 EAB is a kind, caring community and whether a parent, teacher, leader or student, we are all striving for the same thing: excellence in teaching and learning that leads our students to lives of meaning, purpose, happiness, and ultimate success.  As we together pursue this lofty goal we must constantly remind ourselves of our commitment as a school community to treat each other with the respect and kindness we all deserve.

High Expectations, High Support Schools

Great controversy often surrounds what works in schools and there are many perceived “right” ways to educate the next generation.  Recent research from some of the top universities in the United States, summarized in this Op-Ed from David Leonhardt of the New York Times, points decidedly, however, to one characteristic of high performing charter schools: they have high expectations for students, and provide significant support to help students meet those expectations.  

Without overtly stating it as a goal, EAB has followed this “high expectations, high support” model in recent years.  Most notably, in 2009 the school introduced the rigorous, highly-respected International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) to our students.  Every year since, a significant percentage of students in grades 11 and 12 have chosen to join the IBDP, and, with the exception of the first year of testing, EAB scores for the comprehensive diploma program have been well above the world average.  This year, 46% of the Senior class and an impressive 85% of the Juniors have chosen to enroll in the IBDP.  What’s more, all students in grades 11 and 12 will take a two-year IB class in BSS (Brazilians only), English and Mathematics and therefore every student will experience the intensity and richness of the IB during their academic career at EAB.  

In the last five years students in grades 6-10 have also seen an increase in expectations as we have aligned all classes to rigorous grade-level standards and further aligned those classes vertically to the IB program.  In this way at the end of grade 10 all students are prepared to choose the IBDP if it is the best fit for their academic goals.  

We realize that raised expectations may lead to unintended consequences like an initial decrease in performance, undue stress and higher levels of frustration.   Therefore, as we have raised expectations, we also have increased our levels of support for all students.  Through the EAB Assessment Policy we have created structures to guide students who have late work and designated time and space for that work to be completed.  In a normal week teachers are available after school and during FLEX Study Hall, for a total of 250 minutes, to provide students with enrichment and reinforcement of the learning that happens in the classroom.   

This year we have added three new teaching positions in the Upper School and hired excellent professionals to fill those positions.  This has led to significantly smaller class sizes in most classes and this reality allows teachers to provide more time to each individual student in the classroom on a daily basis.  We also have hired an additional part time learning specialist to further support students with designated learning needs.

At EAB we believe strongly that support for students goes beyond the classroom and have  therefore developed and continue to improve an advisory program in both the Middle and High Schools called FLEX Groups.  The purpose of these groups is to provide time for students and teachers to develop meaningful relationships, to allow students to practice metacognition and to focus on the social and emotional needs of the young men and women of our school.  

Finally, and most importantly, every day at EAB we maintain a laser-like focus on who we are here to serve: our students.  In both informal and formal ways the dedicated teachers of the Upper School spend their days talking about students, their learning, their happiness and well-being and how they are developing as students and as human beings.  Each week a team called the Student Support Team (SST) meets to discuss students who may need added structures to support learning, who are struggling socially or emotionally, or who have experienced a significant disruption in their lives.  The team then creates individualized plans to support those students.  

At its core, EAB is a learning environment that is based on caring, thoughtful relationships between the members of its community.  This is nowhere truer than in the relationships between students and their teachers.  These relationships, more than any other factor, allow us to ask a lot of our students as learners and human beings and provide the structure of support that allows us to prepare them to lead happy, healthy, productive lives of purpose and meaning.    

A Principal’s Speech to Young Delegates

Good afternoon, Delegates, leaders, honored guests. My name is David Bair and I am the Upper School Principal here at The American School of Brasília.  It is with great pride and a tremendous sense of honor that I open the Brasília Model United Nations Conference.  

In its third year, Brasília Model United Nations has become a symbol at this school for what we believe is right about today and what we hope for for tomorrow.  Though supported to a small degree by adults, this event was envisioned and created two years ago by an EAB student named Pedro Farias.  Last year Pedro’s vision was carried on by EAB student Carol Nascimento and her team.  This year, EAB Senior João Bosco Lucena, better known simply as Bosco, is the secretary general.  He and other student-leaders have worked very hard to ensure an excellent conference for all delegates and I am confident that this is what you will experience over the next two days.  

At its core, then, this conference is not just about Model United Nations, but about the immense capacity of youth.  More specifically, it is a clear demonstration of the transformative power of the EAB student.  Thank you, Bosco and team, for the great work you have done to prepare for this day.  You make this school proud.

As you participate in the conference in the coming days, I encourage you to take the work you do seriously and do it to the best of your ability. Do the work with a sense of honor and humility.   After over 70 years of relative peace and prosperity, it is easy to feel that progress and the betterment of humankind is inevitable.  Today there is better health, less poverty and more cooperation than at any time in human history.  History teaches us, however, that times of great optimism and human progress can, with great speed and violence, be destroyed by the worst of human cruelty.  Remember that at the beginning of the last century there was great optimism as democracy and global trade spread across Europe and the world.  That optimism was shattered by two great wars, the violent death of tens of millions of people, genocide and a worldwide depression.

Be reminded, then, as you work this week that progress is not inevitable.  Indeed, when nationalism once again spreads, progress is not inevitable.  When nuclear weapons proliferate, progress is not inevitable.  When the amazing tools of technology are used not only to make connections and share joy, but also to spread hate, misinformation and fear, progress is not inevitable.  When global powers look inward, shrink from the international stage and world leaders sow the seeds of division at home and abroad, progress is not inevitable.  When civil wars rage, refugees flee, the climate warms and the seas rise, progress is not inevitable.  

Indeed, a quick study of the historical record and today’s headlines make it clear that continued progress is not inevitable.  We know, however, that it is possible.  A thinker and writer named David Matten recently captured this idea by stating, “We can make things better. But only if we go forward with our eyes open. We’ve seen amazing progress in almost every dimension of human affairs across the last century. But that progress is fragile. We need to be its constant and vigilant guards.”

Though not a perfect institution, the United Nations for over seven decades has been a “constant and vigilant guard” of progress, peace and security.  Born from the ashes of World War II not as a utopian idea, the UN, while recognizing human imperfection and the attendant dangers of misunderstanding in international relations, also realizes the importance of dialogue, the need for cooperation the necessity of collective action.

This week at this conference you model those values and that fundamental work. As you do so I hope that you keep in mind the fragility of our progress as a species and therefore do your work as delegates with skill, tenacity, humility and passion. Both former U.S. President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King quoted the transcendentalist minister Theodore Parker when they said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” That may be true, but the arc doesn’t bend on its own.  To move to a future with more justice, more peace, and more prosperity, talented, thoughtful people must commit to engage in the great struggle to craft a better world and brighter future.  Delegates, today as you model the work done by the United Nations you take up that struggle. Today you are the vigilant guards.  

Thank you for joining us at the third Brasília Model United Nations Conference.  We are honored to have you here.

A Principal’s Speech to the Class of 2017

Tonight you earn EAB’s greatest honor when you receive the High School Diploma from the American School of Brasília.  Our diploma symbolizes the successful completion of a comprehensive educational program that embodies what we believe as educators and what EAB stands for as an institution. Tonight we celebrate you for earning this honor.

So enjoy today and enjoy this special time in your life.  But while you celebrate what has been accomplished, don’t be fooled into thinking you did it alone.  For as much as this ceremony is a celebration of today and the possibility of tomorrow, it is also a night to honor those who helped you along the way.  You are here tonight not only due to your talent and hard work, but also because you had people around you – teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, family and especially parents – who gave you support, guided you when you erred, celebrated when you won and loved you when you failed.  They were with you every step of the way and so as you look to the future please be sure to honor your past and those who helped you arrive at where you are today.  

In a few minutes you will no longer be EAB students and completely out of my sphere of influence, so I am going to use my short time to make two final requests: first, for the final time as a group, PLEASE thank your teachers for the tremendous work they have done to help get you to today.  

Finally, thank the people who love you most in this world and forever will: your parents.  I have told you many times this week that you will never understand how much your parents love you, and what a big moment this is for them, until you have children of your own.  So please, take a moment now to thank your parents.  This is a formal ceremony, but if you need to get up to see your parents and mouth “thank you” and “I love you” then you can leave your seats.  

It has been a great privilege for me to spend this last week with you.  And what have I seen during that time?  As individuals and as a group you have been unified, organized and proud.  You have acted with gratitude and kindness.  You have laughed and shared great joy.  You have not been perfect. We never are.  But you have been great in your final days as students of EAB.   

And now you head out into the world.  You are ready.  What’s more, I speak on behalf of the entire High School Faculty when I say that we are proud of you, proud of who you are, proud of what you have accomplished, and thankful that we got to share this important time in your lives with you.  

And as you now strike out to make your way in the world we hope for you happiness.  We hope for you love. We hope for you peace and joy.  We hope for you passion and purpose.  We hope you accomplish your heart’s desire.  We hope you find the courage within yourself to be kind and the strength to be persistent. Finally, we hope – we believe – you will represent this school well and that throughout your lives you will leave each place you touch a bit better for your having been there.