Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Jordyn Jefferson

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Good evening, my name is Jordyn Jefferson. The best way to describe myself as a student at City Academy is through the lens of a rose.

Roses are fragrant, attractive, bright and colorful and when they bloom, they illuminate grace and beauty. They appreciate sunny skies and rainy nights with intentional thorns that protect them from harm.

Today, I stand as the delicate rose I just described, but I didn’t start City Academy as a rose already bloomed. I was a seed, eager to sprout. I began growing my roots that gave me stability. With each spurt of growth, I became resilient and firm. Not even a strong storm could weaken my stem or cause me despair. Each time I gained knowledge, a petal formed. There were times my petals frayed from disappointments and failures, but always another petal would bloom causing me to have hope.

Hope is what has given me the audacity to strive. It dares me to blossom and believe. I believe City Academy has provided me with an exceptional education. I believe thorns in my sides or challenging days makes you determined, I believe work without purpose is not work at all. All of these things and more I learned through my growth as a student at City Academy.

Although my rose isn’t perfect; it’s a delicate strong rose thrilled to be planting yet another seed at my new destination Villa Duchesne. I would like to thank all of my teachers but the 2 main teachers I would like to thank is Mrs. Fennoy and Mrs. Oteng. Thank you Mrs. Fennoy for always pushing and encouraging us. It will be helpful as we transition into middle school. Mrs. Oteng, thank you for being the one teacher I can talk to about everything, for making math fun and making me laugh. To my peers, I will sincerely miss you. Even though we’re going our separate ways, we will always have the memorable Michigan trip. To my grandmother for inspiring me even when I didn’t think I could achieve. To my father, for helping me on my journey and a special thank you to my mother for your unconditional love and support. Even when I failed, you never failed me.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Jayden Cooley

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Reaching the Summit

Good evening my name is Jayden Cooley. I believe my classmate, Alex, with whom I’ve shared my journey with since junior kindergarten used the analogy of his experience at City Academy as a rollercoaster ride. I would agree. We have experienced some really great times at City Academy and I have enjoyed the ride as well, Alex. But allow me to share my experience at City Academy. Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with mountains. Not necessarily inclined to climb one, but metaphorically or symbolically. Symbolically, the thought of climbing a mountain represents a sense of achievement. Even with a few stumbles and sudden shifts; reaching the summit seems gratifying. Something similar to my time at City Academy.

The start of my climb at City Academy was rough. My Junior Kindergarten year, I managed to break my elbow and walked around school as a little red haired guy with a broken elbow in a cast. Recovery took months, but seemed like my entire JK year. The one thing I learned from such an experience, was to never lose aspiration and I didn’t. Moving on, kindergarten and first grade was a much better experience, but by 2nd through 4th grade, the work got progressively harder.

Fifth grade brought about a whole new set of tribulations and challenges. Mrs. Venne, our former 5th grade teacher, was the first to introduce us to REAL homework. Some nights I was up past 1 o’clock trying to complete homework. She pushed us pass our limit that’s for sure, but it was necessary and it helped prepare us beyond 6th grade but also for secondary school. That year felt like a never ending cycle, but it allowed me to witness true determination.

Ahhh!!!! Finally. I made it to the top of the summit. I’ve risen above; I’ve conquered. As I stand atop my mountain, looking down on my low and high points, my accomplishments, my failures, I realize life is filled with steep inclines, high altitudes and unpredictable challenges. I often wonder where I would be if my travels were not rocky. Would I have given up or kept striving? I now have my answer: I will keep striving. No matter the circumstances, I shall persevere.

Thank you City Academy for helping me to endure what it means to conquer and what it means to stand atop the summit. To my mother and extended family, thank you for being the harness protecting and supporting me along the way.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Poem by Kaliah Birchfield

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Good evening, My name is Kaliah Birchfield. When I first entered City Academy in first grade I was a seed awaiting my chance. A chance to grow into a blossoming tree. With every year, this once tiny seed, grew more into a tree whose branches are now ready to embrace its new journey. Thank you to my parents, my siblings and my peers for helping me flourish and spread my branches.

This evening I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote about my journey and growth at City Academy. It is titled: My Shield Of Branches.

My Shield of Branches

I was once a seed,
Buried deep in the soil,
Yearning to sprout.
With the help of the sun,
And trickling rain drops
I was soon showered with grace
And instantly, so it seemed, I budded my first branch.
With another drop of rain, every beam of sun
More branches sprouted
Covering me like a shield

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Alex McCloud

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My Rollercoaster Ride

Good evening, my name is Alexander McCloud and I must say, I am the only student that has been at City Academy for a decade. No, not really but it has felt like a decade. I have spent eight L-O-N-G years as a student at City Academy, but it has been a LONG fulfilling journey. My experience here has been something similar to a roller coaster ride. I’ve experienced some tight turns, some steep slopes, and sometimes inversion and didn’t know if I was upside down or sitting straight up.

Like most kids my age, amusement parks and rides can be invigorating. You usually start with your hands waving in the air; excited to feel the breeze and soon you’re locked in and without warning you are off; screaming from the top of your lungs, with harsh winds slapping your face and with each twist and turn, it feels like your stomach is having a ride of its own.

Though my life has been just that, a rollercoaster, I have learned so much on the ride. There were times I wanted to throw my hands up and scream and I’m almost certain, my parents and teachers wanted to do the same. But guess what? I didn’t, and they didn’t either. I continued to have courage and managed to strive through the twists and turns. I was determined to ride this rollercoaster to the end.

My favorite part of my ride has been the opportunity to play the lead role in several productions including “The Jungle Book” “Seussical the Musical” and “Aladdin”. Such opportunities helped me learn to be accountable and responsible. But with every rollercoaster ride, nothing is steady, once you hit the peak, you descend at a pace faster than lightning. There were times on my ride I couldn’t catch a breath; the wind was drastic as the workload, at times, were just the same. But again after a sudden twist, I was back pushing through. On my ride I learned to enjoy the journey and be proud of my accomplishments. I’ve had many.

I’ve made a lot of friends these past few years. The friends that I have known the longest are my closest and those people have been the passengers on my ride with me. Classmates, we have made it through this journey of City Academy and I hope you are able to enjoy your ride as you start a new phase of your life. Remember to enjoy every twist and turn and have fun on your rollercoaster.

Mom and Dad, you have been my biggest support system through my time at City Academy. Thank you for leading me on my expedition. Because of both of you, I’m ready to take this new red devil roller coaster straight to, Chaminade Preparatory School in the fall.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Za’Cari Bland

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A Grace of New Beginnings

Good evening everyone, my name is Za’Cari Bland. This evening marks the start of new beginnings for me, but I can not continue my path without first acknowledging my “new beginnings” or opportunities as a City Academy student.

I had a unique experience as a student at City Academy and in the beginning, thought of it as a disadvantage. While most students started school at the beginning of the school year, my beginnings at this great place, started midway through my first grade year. Expectations were already established, rigor was enforced and friendships had been bonded. For me, I was the girl on the other side of the wall trying to find my way. I was in despair, empty and isolated. The somber emotions quickly came to past. Soon, I realized that I had a chance at something new. The grace of new beginnings. A chance to make friends and to be a friend, a chance to welcome new challenges, a chance to take risks, a chance at finding my purpose and last but not least, a chance at striving for excellence.

At the start of my time at City Academy, I didn’t quite know how to take on the thought of “new beginnings”. The beginning of me learning how to write, learning how to read, or how to study, the beginning of me learning how to exhibit compassion, and, the beginning of me accepting failure.

I am thrilled for my beginnings, as they have prepared me for new beginnings. I appreciate every bit of preparation City Academy has bestowed upon me. From having to owe my recess so I can learn responsibility and accountability, to being told we’re leaders of the school about 20 times a day and taking a leadership class to help prepare me for my time here and my next beginning. Every punishment, every redirection or every reprimand I didn’t agree with in the beginning, but now it all finally makes sense. Because of you City Academy; the good and the bad, I am proud to say I’m starting my new beginnings at Lutheran North Middle in the fall.

A special thank you to my stepfather and my grandmother. And to my mom, thank you for finding my “new beginning” and supporting me every step of the way.

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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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