Class of 2018: You’re The Reason Why We Come to Work Everyday

By: Christian Guerrero
July 31, 2014

Category: ceremony | harrison | high | inwood | john | mccabe | reyes

Excerpts from the Stepping Up Ceremony on June 25, 2014

Humanities Department Chair John Harrison’s address:

Class of 2018
From Left: Leslie, Terrell, Aaliyah

Moving from middle school to high school is symbolic of your journey into the world of us grownups, where you will finally earn the freedom to make decisions for yourself, to control your own destiny.  Unfortunately, with this freedom comes the responsibility of living with the repercussions of the decisions that you make.

This is a time in your life to figure out who you truly are.  Our identity is constantly in flux, flexing and bending to accommodate the experiences we encounter as we grow.  I can say without fear of exaggeration that each and every one of you is a testament to just how magnificent it is to be a human being.  I stand here before you today as one of your teachers, and I think I can say that I speak for all of us when I say that YOU are the reason why we come to work every day.

I can speak from experience about how difficult it can be to get up every single day and trudge to a school that feels like a prison.  Despite all the hard work, long hours, tests, rules, or uniforms, I think you’d all agree with me that Inwood Academy for Leadership is different than most schools.  We have been able to create a family for you here… and if I’m being honest, for me too.

By John Harrison,


Middle School Principal Ryan McCabe’s address:

Ryan and Christina
Principal McCabe and Executive Director Reyes

I want you to always remember to…

Be open-minded.  Life is going to present you with things that seem so different from your plans.  Remember to keep your options open.  Someday you may be presented with an opportunity you didn’t initially consider.  Take it, try it.  You may just realize that your strengths lay outside of your comfort zone.

Be creative.  Don’t try to be the best at something that already exists, do things differently.  Sometimes the best idea is the craziest idea. Don’t be afraid to be different or weird.

Be loyal.  Never forget where you came from or who you came with on your journey to success.  Stay together and loyal to each other so that the challenges you face, can be overcome as a group.  Remember that when you have someone’s back, they will have yours in a rough time.

Be a leader.  To lead means to have the confidence to make tough decisions, admit mistakes, support people, allow others to support you, be willing to include others and carry yourself with honesty, integrity, caring, responsibility, and restraint.

By Ryan McCabe,


Executive Director Christina Reyes’ address:

Class of 2018
Aminata and Ashlynn

Your children have grown so much in the last four years. They are unbelievably astute, insightful and caring individuals who have no problem letting someone know exactly how they feel. I am proud of their accomplishments and the journeys they have begun to take. We have athletes and artists, scholars and problem solvers – all ready to conquer the next big thing. They are eager and willing to take risks and allow setbacks to be learning experiences rather than stumbling blocks. Inwood Academy for Leadership did not initiate this, but we hope that we fostered these character traits and continue to do this with every student who remains with us into high school.

To those who are leaving, we want you to know that we love you and will miss you, and hope that you carry a little bit of us with you wherever you go.

The Prime Minister of South Africa once spoke these wise words; “you ask me what the road will look like from here and I am here to say that there is no road, only a direction….” I echo these words and add, there are no roads, only directions that you as growing leaders should choose to go in and bring others with you towards a life that will not be easy, but I pray it will be fulfilling.

Congratulations on crossing this milestone, but remember, this is not an ending, but a step. What I look forward to is the speech that I will make four years from now when you graduate high school and the many speeches that I expect to be invited to eight years from now when you graduate from college.

By Christina Reyes,

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