Helping Others is the Real Victory
Graduation Address, 2006

Good morning Saklan Valley School: Students, Teachers, Parents, Guests, and Graduates:

Last week I had the good fortune to attend a screening of the new movie Cars, as the guest of one of our wonderful new Pixar families here at Saklan. No, I am not going to tell you the ending– it is a secret– but I am going to recommend you see it this summer, and I am going share with you one of the movie’s important themes: that being a good friend, and helping others, are far more important than anything else.

This is an important message in any year, but perhaps particularly so this school year, which marked both the occasion of both the century of the terrible San Francisco earthquake and fire, and of course, the horrible devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Like the youth of so many schools across the country, so did our students respond with an intense desire and determination to help and make a difference.  Martin Luther King Jr. used to say that “Life’s most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for Others?’”  Our students answered that question, collecting clothes, toys, and funds– even running their own lemonade stand to fundraise– to help the people of Louisiana.   At Saklan, students continually learn and put into practice the message that in just a couple of minutes, our youngest students, the Rainbow Kids, Honey Bears, Sun  Bears and Kindergarteners will sing for you: “I can change the world/ with my own two hands; I can make a better place/ with my own two hands!”

Our graduates today have changed the world and made it a better place already, leading family groups, inspiring our younger students, and serving as reading buddies to the students of Rise Elementary in East Oakland.  Graduates, I know you believe, as President Clinton once said, that “We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs.”

Like Lightning McQueen, the speedy red race car who headlines the new Pixar movie, you graduates have both the machinery and the motivation to advance swiftly into the lead of whatever field in which you will compete– and like Lightning McQueen, you will never forget that friendship and helping others is just as important as winning those races.  Congratulations, Saklan Graduates!

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