Take a Chance – Commencement Speech to North Merrick Elementary Students

North Merrick School District Board of Education Trustee, Wendy Gargiulo, delivered the following commencement speech to the graduating sixth graders from Camp Avenue, Old Mill Road and Fayette Schools. YourNewsMag read it on Ms. Gargiulo’s blog cindawenda.wordpress.com:

 

When I sat down at the computer to write this speech, I thought of the game Monopoly and the lessons tied to it. I bet everyone in this room has played this game at some point in their life.

At the start of the game, each player chooses a token to travel around the board. This game piece represents you throughout the game. Like Monopoly, each of you chooses how you want to be viewed. When you’re making new friends or you’re meeting a teacher for the first time, be sure that who you portray is a real representation of yourself. The lesson is everyone else is taken. Just be yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you come from Baltic Avenue that’s $40 or Broadway that’s $500. Someone will always have more than you or less than you. It’s about accepting who are you are and where you come from. When you can do that, others will accept the same. Don’t compare yourselves to others.

There are a few times in Monopoly that you can land on Chance. The good news is life is full of chances. It’s up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Try out for that sports team. Join a club. Believe you will ace that music solo. Know that many times things will go your way. And if occasionally they don’t, know there will be another chance right around the corner for your taking. Don’t ever give up.

Passing go always comes with a sigh of relief. You collect your $200 and it’s a fresh start. As you head into middle school, you carry with you all that you learned here at Camp/Fayette/Old Mill Road School. We have proudly taught you how to read and write along with character education. You will be challenged academically and school work will get more difficult. You got this! Do your best each and every day. If you find yourself having a bad day, maybe a bad test score or some concept you couldn’t grasp, don’t sweat it. Each day is a fresh start for you to do better and expand your learning capability.

Monopoly can’t be played alone. It must be played with others. As you enter middle school, you will continue many of your friendships from elementary school but be open to new friendships. Change your game up occasionally. New people will enter your life as you head into MAMS. Be open to it.

Sometimes as you make your way around the board, you can land in jail. This isn’t always a bad thing. Being taken out of the game, gives an opportunity for perspective. It’s good to take a step back once in a while to make sure you are heading down the right path and you are happy with your decisions. If you find that you’ve taken a wrong turn along the way, dust yourself off and put yourself back in the game and head in the right direction.

As players make their way around the board, they will land on your property. We are all playing the same game. We are all linked. So be kind in all of the decisions you make. If you see someone that is always alone, offer to be their friend. You could make a difference in that child’s life. If you see someone being bullied, speak up. Be kind in everything you do. We all want to play a fair game.

Cheaters ruin the game. If you find the people you are surrounded by are ruining your game, find better players. Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with others that exemplify the traits you admire.

You never know what to expect each time you take out that board and begin the game. I’m sure some of you may feel excited about middle school or perhaps even a little scared. You won’t know how you really feel until you get there. Just as you have been guided and cared for at Camp/Fayette/Old Mill Road, you will be handled with the same caring hands at MAMS. Enjoy the experience that middle school brings to you.

Monopoly is a game and the point is to have fun. Make the most of your time at MAMS. Take advantage of everything that comes your way there. When you hear of a try out or audition that may interest you, Go for it. Don’t second guess yourself if you’re good enough or worse yet, that someone else may be better than you. Here’s the secret. You are good enough. Try, just try, and maybe you will succeed and If you don’t. You will do better next year. The point is making the most of your time there. This opportunity will come but once for you. Now is the time to make the memories that one day you will look back on fondly.

When the game is over, the only thing you have left are the relationships with the people you played with. You may continue some of your friendships that you made in elementary school. You may make new friends in middle school and even more in high school. As you continue your education, many of the same people that join in your celebration today will be there to celebrate with you as you continue your educational milestones. Each chapter of your educational journey is like opening that box and taking the monopoly board out for the first time again. Apply these lessons throughout your journey.

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