Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Shiloh Banda

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Intimidation Kept Me Going

Good Evening! My name is Shiloh Banda and I am pleased and grateful to be standing before you this evening. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be welcomed into a warm institution like City Academy. But never in a trillion years could I imagine standing here as an independent young scholar on Graduation Night; well my day has come.

I have had the privilege of traveling two types of roads during my time here. From my painting; the left side of the road exhibits somber and doubt while the right side depicts radiance and hope.

As a young 6 year old little girl, I was completely clueless on what I was getting myself into coming to City Academy. I was grateful for the opportunity, yet afraid and intimidated by not only how remarkable and appealing the school looked, but fearful that I would not fit in. But for some reason, intimidation gave me hope and the will to strive for excellence.

Before I knew it, days turned into months and months turned into years; as my City Academy journey soared, within the blink of an eye, my somber days turned into faint rays of sunlight. Through such rays, my personality shined brighter and from such light I was able to celebrate myself. I didn’t stop here. I kept striving.

Though I still don’t fully know myself, what I do know, is that I dare to meet the end of the road. Dark roads and doubt will come, but what I have learned is to prepare myself for the worst in order to survive the worst. The most important lesson I have learned through such darkness is I must remember where I started, where it felt like there was no escape soon discovering that when troubles aroused me, I kept going, When hardships devoured me, I kept going knowing that staying focus and motivation is key. Motivation comes from my heart and my brain. Therefore, whatever path I encounter I must not give up, but continue to my everlasting road of triumph.

I am very fortunate to have a great support system to allow for such triumphs. I am thankful for my City Academy teachers, administrators, classmates and my extended family for traveling down my road with me. To my twin brother Paul for always keeping me balanced between my roads and to my lovely mother, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is not only my graduation, but yours as well. I thank you for directing me on my road and staying one foot behind me in spite of your road of obstacles. I am now ready for a new kickoff at Westminster Christian Academy in the fall and overcoming new sets of doubts that will soon drive me to my goals in the future.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Zoey DiStaso Hutchins

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What Awaits Me

Good evening everyone! I am Zoey DiStaso- Hutchins. In life, we only get one start, one finish and a couple of chances to make a mark or leave behind some kind of legacy.

One of the biggest questions posed to me as I made my transition through the years by teachers, administrators, my parents and even indirectly by my peers have been “What legacy awaits you?” A question for many years I found difficult to answer and in some cases something to even consider. “What legacy awaits me?” I was puzzled. How can a 9 year old answer such a question? I’m NINE! But over time, and with much consideration, I have spent my time as a student of City Academy living to identify and answer such a question. The best part of answering this question has been the clarity and the identity it has brought to me and my daily decisions as a scholar.

As a 2019 Graduate, I welcome to share my words I have lived by in order to leave behind my legacy and start anew. These are ideas I planted in my soul through the many years that have granted me opportunities of growth. Ideas I remind myself of as I reflect on my days; whether productive or challenging days. It’s my prep talk in the mornings before I begin my day.

  • To start, always have a positive approach to situations and make the best of each moment Zoey; regardless of circumstances or strife. There is nothing you can do, so make the best of the situation and move on.
  • At all times, exude positive energy. No one wants to interact with those who lives in misery and sadness all the time. Remain optimistic Zoey, expressive and authentic.
  • Welcome new possibilities. Playing it safe doesn’t help you prosper, but stunts your growth. Be okay with taking risks.
  • And most importantly, which was one that I most recently learned to accept; appreciate moments of failure. Failure gives you a chance to win again. Don’t be disheartened by failure.

City Academy, thank you for allowing me to see what truly awaits me. This is a place I will never forget. I have so many memorable moments here and hope my energy is just as memorable. I hope I have begun to make a mark on the world as City Academy has made a mark in my heart.

To my Mom, you are the inspiration BEHIND my legacy. I am GREETED by you at the start of my day which brings me happiness at the end of my day that keeps me safe. To my Dad, each day, you inspire me to look at life in a different way. Thanks for always teaching me right from wrong and helping me solve problems head on. I am thrilled at what awaits me at VISITATION ACADEMY in the fall.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Ahmad Muhammad

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Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ahmad Muhammad and I am a part of the graduating class of 2019. I stand before you this evening with a model of the Earth which is a representation of my stages of growth throughout my time at City Academy. I started City Academy as a 5 yrs old tyke, since then, I have transformed into the young scholar I am today. Tonight, I am content and delighted to be a graduate of City Academy.

The first part of Earth’s layer is the Core which is the foundation. This was my kindergarten through first grade stages of life. The inner stage was one of the hardest stages for me because I had to learn how to adapt to change. Before starting City Academy, I was home-schooled and found it challenging to adapt to a classroom setting with classroom expectations. Pacing and following order was new for me but it didn’t take long before I began to get acquainted with my teachers and my peers, adapt to the rules and expectations and began to learn the fundamental tools I needed to become a learner. My journey had just begun.

Mantle – The second layer of Earth is the mantle which is thicker than the crust and within the mantle is magma. Now if you have any knowledge about magma or lava, you know lava can be messy, cause destruction and disorderly to say the least. By second and third grade, life for me was lava. Coping with homework, learning to better manage my time and just simply being a kid was a chaotic time for me. My life was a mess! Never could I understand the reason why my parents expected me to do all the things a 7 yrs old had to fulfill within a very short time span. You see, my bedtime at 7 yrs old was 8:30 sharp. Not 8:31 not 8:30 and 25 seconds. 8:30 on the dot. In that time, I had to eat dinner, have table conversation about my day (Which I never liked) complete homework, but not just complete homework for the sake of saying it was done, but complete homework thoroughly and accurately. I had to make sure every i was dotted and every t was crossed and of course that I wrote in the best penmanship possible. Then I had to prepare for bed. Shower, pjs, and teeth brushed. This was and in some cases still is my daily routine.

All these expectations had to be satisfied by end of night. Time management was messy for me. It was hot lava. But I still got through it. From this, I learned two important things: Strive to be great and you will succeed and always give effort and accept failure along the way; because you’re bound to succeed at some point.

Crust- The last of Earth’s layers is the crust. The crust is strong and primarily made of rock. This represents my fourth through sixth grade years as a student. By this stage, I had learned to become a stronger and confident learner. I was in the groove and because of the foundation set in my earlier stages of life, I was able to strive for greater. My foundation has been set and I am ready to take on the next stage of my life. To this, I am proud to announce that I will be attending John Burroughs in the fall.

For me City Academy marks the best elementary independent school of St. Louis. I am so appreciative of my stages of growth and the patience City Academy had in order for me to grow. I am extremely thankful for my parents and their support, love and dedication to me and my siblings through the years. Thank you for being apart of every project, every field trip, every school event and everything else. Thank you!

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Derrick Palmer

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A Bittersweet Chapter

Good Evening my name is Derrick Palmer. Today I’m graduating and I can’t help but reminisce about my bittersweet chapter here. Every great novel includes complications and challenges. While I have been here, I have had many conflicts such as adjusting to the schoolwork, late night homework, fitting in, you know, the new kid stuff. I was the new kid on the block and was not at all happy, because of the dreadful decision my parents made of transferring me.

Coming to another school was not the most joyous occasion because Plot twist I didn’t immediately love City Academy. I felt that my former school was the perfect place for me. Homework was a breeze, I had plenty of friends and I participated in many activities. I was living my best life; at least that’s what I thought. My parents thought differently, it was like I was the protagonist in a novel who was trying to escape the overbearing antagonist who wouldn’t listen to me, that happened to have been my parents.

But this was the one time I was glad my parents didn’t listen to me. They knew what was best and soon I began to take such bitter moments and turned them into successful moments. Braving through all the hardships I faced to get where I am right now was no cakewalk. I went through days of feeling anger, anxiety and defeated. It was something that many characters in great novels experience, but that internal conflict never lasts. On the other side of life they almost always reach the climax and life turns for them.

That is exactly what happened for me. I was on an upward path and shared some really sweet and special moments at City Academy. I allowed my humor to help build friendships, my wittiness help develop stronger analytical skills and my passion for learning to help me take pride in who I am as a student.

Thank you City Academy for such bittersweet chapters in my life. I have been exposed to some great things and great friends here. I am ecstatic for the next chapter of my life at Whitfield School.

Mom and Dad thank you for also helping me to turn my bitter moments into sweet occasions. Grandpa and Pam, thank you for picking me up from school when my parents couldn’t. To my oldest brother DJ, thanks for being the most annoying and best big brother ever. You all knew what was best for me and I will always love you.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Gabrielle Moore

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Soar High

Good evening, everyone. My name is Gabrielle Moore and today, I’ll be presenting my last speech at City Academy to you.

“I’m a little butterfly
Spread my powerful wings
Even though I’m small and frail I can do most anything”

-A quote by Ross Lynch

This quote will always hold great meaning to me, representing my journey throughout City Academy and the start of a new journey in the fall.

Imagine yourself soaring over fields, flying against the wind, keeping your path though sometimes letting the wind carry you. Your black and orange wings glimmering in the sun. Not stopping until you reach the next flower and only then pausing to enjoy the sweet nectar. But right after that, moving onto the next even sweeter flower. And the whole time being very careful because one butterfly flap can change the world. And that holds very close to me because I know I will change the world for the better, whether that is recycling an empty water bottle on the street, or saving a life as an oncologist, I have the power to change the world and City Academy has played a huge part in this.

“I’m a little butterfly, spread my colorful wings.” When I first started City Academy, I was a little kid, eager to learn, curious to find answers and of course, ready to play. From sitting in a corner, trying to teach myself to read, to reading almost 100 books a year. Slowly, yet proudly, spreading my colorful and powerful wings. Earning the right to fly away, yet never settling on just one flower. Looking for better while never forgetting my roots.

As I go on to a new school in the fall, I thank all of the faculty and staff, especially all the teachers at City Academy for shaping me into a better student yet always leaving room for improvement. I wouldn’t be standing where I am tonight, without your support.

But not to forget some specific people. Thank you to my former fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. McDonough, for never losing touch with me and for always giving up your time to give advice. And thank you to all of my family, but especially my Mommy, Daddy and my sister, Madison, who were always there for me and will always have room in their heart for me. My parents did work behind the scene to get me where I am today and without their love, I wouldn’t know which flower to land on. Not to forget my grandparents, who always gave me a helping hand.

So thank you so much to all of these wonderful people in my life. And as this little butterfly’s wings spread, she will always fly back to City Academy, but until then, she’ll use the wings City Academy and her family gave her and fly away to John Burroughs School in the fall.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Derek Johnson

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Good evening my name is Derek Johnson.

Short, challenging and fulfilling. Words that best summarize my time at City Academy. I started my journey at City Academy in 4th grade. I was a lost soul at first, but in a short time I have grown into the school community and was able to make friends and work diligently to meet academic expectations. At my prior school, I only learned the fundamentals, but in just my short time at City Academy, I have been immersed in an environment that challenged rather than reinforced, causing me to apply myself more and strive to be greater. I AM PROUD OF MY JOURNEY!!!!!

While teachers and my lovely parents have supported me along the way, I believe my triumph comes from the years of having to be accountable and diligent on the court. This hard work made its way from the basketball court to the classroom. I am a passionate basketball player with over 10 years of experience. For the last five years, I have played for an Elite Traveling Basketball Team. I had to be accepting of winning or losing and attending long evening practices in spite of school obligations, yet still managing my school work; ultimately demonstrating accountability. I learned how to deal with triumphs and hardships on the court. You win some and you lose some but what really matters is how you deal with your roadblocks or in the language of basketball “foul count”.

I had a few fouls at City Academy. First and foremost, I learned that I was competing against some of the most intellectual peers I had ever encountered. I thought I was the MVP on the court, but soon learned I had competition that required me to have my game face on at ALL times. I even had times when I had “techs” (which are really bad fouls) where I didn’t receive full credit on my assignments because I neglected to put forth all my effort. A few techs helped me to realize I had to invest more time into winning the game. The game has been won and Fulfilled! I now stand before you proud of the player and student I have become; awaiting my trophy and my start to a new game at JOHN BURROUGHS!!!

To my parents, thank you. You are the reason I started the game and the reason I stayed in the game. You helped me learn that there is light at the end of the tunnel all you have to do is keep working and focusing on the end goal.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Poem by Zariyah Nance

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Good evening, my name is Zariyah Nance. Words are helpful in our lives. It helps us to say things, but it also helps us to express what we as human beings feel. Words can make others’ voices be heard, loud enough for the people around us to hear and maybe even the world. Before I officially leave what was once my destination, I will be reciting a poem entitled “Destination” that will allow me to express who I have become as a student of City Academy.

My route starts out like a narrow pathway,
I’m hiding in the shadows, afraid of what might happen,
I take my time to accept the world,
I only speak if my mind agrees,
Making sure that the words that come out truly matter,
Violence can impact, but words can deeply have an affect on others mentally,
New creatures swarm around me, but I dare be caught in the middle,
Knowing it’s easy to stand in the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone,
I stride further into my expedition,
Welcoming my new environment; while forming partnerships,
Inspiring others to follow the path to destiny,
To be able to face challenges, no matter how hard they get,
I slowly tear down the walls,
Showing the world my true identity,
Not frightened of what one might say,
For their words are like grains of sand,
They simply slip through my fingers and fall to the unknown,
My mind is open to anything that comes my way,
No longer, afraid to face things unfamiliar,
No longer afraid of being judged,
For I am a stable building ready to soar yet another storm,
Yearning to find my destination.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Alyssa Harris

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Good evening everyone, my name is Alyssa Harris, and I am proud to be a part of the graduating class of 2019. In my life, I have realized that there are always chains that will try and hold you back, and mountains that you will have to overcome. There are some challenges that come with growing up, like learning how to be responsible, or finding out what it really means to have integrity.

But through the chains that tried to stop me in these past seven years, there have always been people by my side who have helped me to break down barriers in order to strive. Especially my parents and grandparents, who have always taught me to set realistic goals for myself, to be well-rounded and willing to interact confidently within a diverse setting, and most importantly to be the best person that I can possibly be I have been able to get past the hard times, and I have become someone who can break down every chain in order to reach for her goals.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Nashon Anthony

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Time Flies

Good evening, my name is Nashon Anthony. I am certain each of you at some point in your life have used the phrase “time flies”. This evening I will be sharing how my time has certainly flown by at City Academy. My time at City Academy has been nothing less than priceless. With every second, every minute, and every hour, I have learned to take advantage of the opportunities given to me and learned to use those times and opportunities gracefully in order to make every moment count.

With time, I lost my innocence, but gained so much knowledge. I became proficient at assembling a robot in robotics class, in my time here, I became a skilled violinist, I gained knowledge of how to be a positive influence but most of all; I learned how to be a student. Time moves quick; but time has allowed for me to grow.

There were moments I wanted to turn back time, but in retrospect, I realized my time encompassed purpose. I took each day “the good and the bad” as it was meant to be. Some of my most beautiful moments have seemed to accelerate and slip beyond my grasp but there are a few I hold near. For example being the first sixth graders to go to camp Michigan or going on field trips and singing on the bus.

Time is undoubtedly one of the greatest assets one can acquire, and City Academy, I thank you for my time well spent. You have helped me recognize that there are endless opportunities for me if I invest my time in identifying what each opportunity holds. To my parents and grandparents, Thank you for giving of your “time” to help me soar from a little boy to a young black man.

To my peers; keep this in mind: “the bad news is time flies, but the good news is you’re the pilot.” As we go our separate ways, be sure to make every moment count because time sure does fly.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Poem by Daniel Rose

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Good Evening, my name is Daniel Rose. This evening I will share my adaptation of a poem entitled “Miracles” by Walt Whitman as I share my Miracles through the years!

What Makes of a Miracle?


As for me, I know there are nothing but Miracles of Moments I’ve shared as a student at City Academy.

And there has been many!

Whether a well needed Vitamin D day at Penrose Park after a bitter, frosty winter,


Swim lessons at Mathews Dickey giving me yet another tool of how to survive,


Long hikes, owl watching, and seeking unknown insects on our annual Shaw trip,


My first extended overnight trip to Miniwanca where I had the courage to climb sand dunes,


Leaving a footprint to have for my younger brother Christian to follow,


Playing kickball with my friends on the old turf field,


Volunteering by packing and sealing bags of staples for a family on World Food Day,


Being one of the first to catch a small-mouth bass on our 6th grade camping trip,


Throwing something as simple as a miniature ball around with my classmates,


Being greeted each morning by Mr. Mitchell, our principal, with a joke or slight grin,


Anticipating Friday water days on a scorching summer day at City,


Mrs. Marilyn’s chocolate chip cookies after the end of a recital,


Sharing memories with Mr. Danforth at our Sixth Grade Luncheon to Uncle Bill’s,


Awaiting Mrs. Fisher, our former principal, to read “Bud, Not Buddy” after a fun-filled recess,

And foremost

The late night support from my parents with homework.

These ALL have been just a snippet of my Miracles here at City Academy!

I would like to acknowledge the faculty and staff for all they have done to help me embrace such Miracles and most of all, thank you to my parents for being the Miracle that devoted their time and patience to me and my brother Christian!

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