William G. Enloe High School
GT/IB Center for the Humanities, Sciences, and the Arts
Scott Lyons , Principal
2006 Graduation Speech
As a society, we hail the college experience as one that will give us insight into the world that we will eventually come to face on our own. Beyond high school, we acknowledge the university as a place where we may come to the realization that not all people in this world are like ourselves.
I was fortunate enough to have come to this realization well before I entered my freshmen year at State. If there was one thing Enloe’s IB Programme gave me, it was a sense of myself. It sounds a bit lame and embellished I know, but it’s true – and you don’t quite realize it until you’ve had a chance to immerse yourself in a crowd that is completely different from the one you just left. When I went to NC State, I was surrounded by both intelligent and ignorant people. Everyone in my IB class had these same two traits, but the difference between the two groups was that the IB kids possessed a desire to expand and build upon their intelligence in order to eradicate ignorance both around them and within themselves. This desire to learn for the sake of learning and to teach others for the betterment of themselves is something that I truly believe IB gave to me. We don’t just learn about U.S. history, but about Latin American history as well; we don’t stop at American government and politics but go further and explore topics that affect the entire world. In IB we are made to give time and assistance not only to the community but to ourselves as well, a seemingly selfish notion that in actuality builds character and self respect. We delve into topics concerning world affairs, scientific discoveries, timeless novels, and brilliant music. They say ignorance is bliss, but IB forces us to leave this idea behind in search of knowledge that will allow us to become better citizens of the world.
Ignorance comes from isolation of thoughts as well as peoples. To move past it, we must surround ourselves with different people and viewpoints. For me, college seems to take a step back from the core idea of diversity. True, there are diverse populations in my university and other universities across the country, but there appears to be little unification amongst these groups. The Asian Student Association boasts token white members, as does the Hip Hop Organization. There are no Jews in the Baptist Student Union and no Hindus in the Muslim Student Association. But why not? I would love to join such organizations, despite my obvious lack of certain common traits, for the mere sake of learning about something I don’t know much about. Sadly, few people mirror my sentiments. It is natural to want to be around people who are like you, but it is necessary to foster a desire to identify with those who are not.
I have acquired such a desire after having gone through the IB Programme myself, but have found that it is hard for me to satiate this thirst for knowledge locally. I was, however, able to find an avenue that led me outside my personal comfort zones and into a world less traveled. Recently I spent two months abroad in Central America. I was there to both take from and give to the people that I came in contact with. I studied Spanish and medical instrumentation for one month in Costa Rica from both local and US teachers, then spent the second month volunteering in two grossly under-funded public hospitals in El Salvador, where I repaired machines, took inventory, and trained the staff on how to use and maintain certain equipment. During my stay, I had the opportunity to talk to many Latinos about a number of things, ranging from how their national team was doing in the World Cup to where I should avoid walking because of common gang fights to how the health care system was inadvertently detrimental to the environment. As IB grads may remember from Tizzy’s class, Latin America is a land of uncertainty. But what you may not realize is that its people are truly simple. All they want is a chance to live a life not burdened by the hardships brought upon by poverty, gangs, and corrupt governments, a life that many of us take for granted. The people I met were humble and unpretentious and openly sought the help of the privileged. We are the privileged – not because of our monetary wealth but because of the knowledge that we possess. We have been given the ability to apply what we know to help those less fortunate than ourselves and it is our duty, as citizens of the world, to do so.
Unfortunately these days, we are bombarded with headlines and newscasts that instill both fear and sorrow into our hearts. Around the world, people are being slaughtered based on color and creed. There is vulgarity in our music, on our televisions, and even in our schools. It is hard for our youth, not only in this country, but across the world, to find a place in society that is not just safe, but encouraging and inspiring as well. It is a daily struggle to be comfortable in one’s own skin and to also be comfortable with those that surround us. Today, we need more than just tolerance in our society – we need acceptance. We need to not only recognize but understand the races, religions, and peoples that make up the world we live in. It is not enough to just know – we must feel, experience, and identify with people, for this is the essence of humanity. The students on this stage today may not see it now, but in the near future I am sure that they will wholeheartedly agree with me when I say that those who participate in the IB Programme have and will continue to contribute to the betterment of society by having first enhanced their own mindset here at Enloe.
I wish all you graduates the best in your future endeavors. I am confident that the world our posterity assumes from us will be closer to perfection because of the change, both small and large, that you will implement. Thank you.
2003 Graduation Speech
Two small letters, two long years. But we made it through. Hard classes, all nighters, TOK during lunch, extended essays during summer vacations. Sometimes it seemed impossible, and extended papers began to mean long in length and late in deadline. June second, winding my way through the throngs at the Civic Center, I realized that we were finished. With good attitudes, we overcame every challenge. With every misstep and every seemingly hopeless exam schedule, we learned to live and laugh. And after two years of hard work and dedication to the International Baccalaureate program, not to mention the other 11 years of schooling, we are finally leaving home, finally free of high school, finally ready to experience the wide world with global perspective we absorbed from IB.
As I’ve joked to many of you, I signed up for IB to take the social studies classes. "Why take US History when I could learn about Latin America as well?" I would say, and most of you rolled your eyes. Well the world perspective in the classes was everything I hoped for, but what I didn’t expect was that I’d learn about the rest of the world just by talking with all of you. I learned the basic steps of Indian dance, about traveling to Nigeria and about growing up in China. You’ve told me about your families from North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. We’ve discussed our views of culture and politics, we’ve shared our dreams for the far off future, and our summer vacations. We’ve all had the opportunity to realize that despite our differences, we have a lot in common, including the ability to appreciate our heritages. Our diversity brought us together; our diversity made our program stronger
Today, just as ever, there is much intolerance, hatred, and violence in the world. It seeps into our lives by way of headlines in the news, and conversations on the street. We worry about weapons of mass destruction or lack thereof, we are anguished by the news of yet another bombing in Jerusalem and the ongoing civil war in Liberia, we hear that supposedly rational adults have yet again come to verbal blows over Carolina’s choice of summer reading, and we are slightly concerned that the music industry is resorting to suing us teenagers for not buying their CDs. We cannot escape the hostility rampant in our world, or the lack of understanding among warring parties. But we, as participants of the IB program have a fresh approach to dealing with the chaos of conflict in a modern world. From Group 4 projects to our beloved historiographies, we learned to see all sides of the big picture. We learned that there was no one right answer, and as our tee-shirt says, we can spout paragraphs to answer one multiple choice question. And that right now, is exactly what the world needs. As complicated as the world is today, we know that black and white answers are few and far between. We need complex answers for complex times. Just as our diversity made our IB experience all the richer, so can the same diversity strengthen our world. We must simply learn to embrace it.
If ignorance breeds hatred, then our capacity to understand will be responsible for peace. Our ability to question, to reason, to learn from others and to think for ourselves will aid us as we make our way in the world. Whatever path we choose, whatever goals we pursue, we will have the tools that IB has given us to help us along the way. Thank you to the school board for funding this important part of our education.
Thank you to Ms. Mastro and Ms. Stewart for their dedication to the paperwork and organization necessary make this program possible. And most of all, thank you teachers for guiding us towards discovery and giving us the tools we need to understand.
Now, here we are, the class of 2003, soon to be the class of 2007, eager to be on our way We are ready to put the lessons we’ve learned to good use. Ready to make new friendships, ready to build new lives, ready to experience the world. I know that all of us are going to thrive in a community we’re been building all along, one based on understanding and hope Our future is flourishing with every move we make to eliminate prejudice and fear. Our two years in IB has made a big step to widen our perspectives. Now we’re ready to go spread that message to the rest of the world.