Ari Shakked Graduation Speech Video
Ari Shakked - Graduation Address - June 10, 2020
How can you possibly say goodbye to a place that you’ve grown up in since day 1? A place in which you have created some of your most vivid memories. A place where you’ve met some of your best friends. A place that if it weren’t formally called “school”, it would be known as home to you. How can you let go of something like that? I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that the incredible class that we have and the inseparable bonds we have formed with each other sure isn’t making it very easy. What we have become very, very good at, however, is learning how to say “hello”.
I started off my Brandeis journey back in Kindergarten with 15 other kids, and was immediately struck by how warm, kind, and comforting our group was. Then came 1st grade, when we received our first new student. We welcomed Ellie into our class with open arms, and in no time at all, she became fully integrated into our daily lives, so much so that you couldn’t even tell that she wasn’t with us for the entire year before. Her incorporation became the first of many over the course of my time here, several of whom have become my closest friends. Looking at our class today, you would never be able to guess which kids started together in Kindergarten and which ones we welcomed along the way. In total, we have had 19 new students join us over the last nine years. Some have stayed, and some have gone, but those farewells that we said over the years didn’t really prepare me for the one that I have to say right now.
So, how do you say goodbye to a place like Brandeis? The truth is, none of us are really saying goodbye at all. Sure, we’ll never be in one of Mr. Seymour’s physics classes again, launching plastic projectiles toward the moon; nor will we be able to sit and listen to any more stories from Mr. Friedman about his life as a rambunctious teenager. But we will always have the memories… from our early years of caring for Nachashi, taking our Flat Stanleys on adventures, and playing in the GaGa pit, to more recent memories of traveling to Ashland, singing at Giants games, and of course, our life-changing experience in Israel. We left our physical campus for the last time on March 13th, but all of the experiences, the friends, the connections with teachers, and the learnings we’ve acquired… those will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
So today, at the end of my Brandeis journey, instead of figuring out how to say goodbye, I’m choosing to say hello. As the great Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Instead of saying goodbye, I’m choosing to remember all of the ‘hellos’ along the way, and how each one impacted my life, and I’m choosing to be open to the new hellos and adventures that are coming my way in high school. And I’m choosing to smile because it happened.