Friday, May 31, 2013

My First IDVA Graduation

Yesterday was a huge first for me.
I gave a graduation speech.

No, I didn't graduate, though I am looking forward to Sam finishing his college and getting his degree because it will be my turn to finish my degree after him. Of course, that means I have to actually decide what I'll get my degree in, I keep changing my mind. I've got some time.

This was one of my duties as a member of the Board of Directors for IDVA. I was pretty darn nervous about it and I felt woefully under qualified for this task. I spent about 2 months stressing over it and then I finally wrote my speech at the last minute.

The teachers and counselors at the school did a wonderful job putting together an awards ceremony before graduation and an awesome reception.

Henry was my date to the awards ceremony. He was an excellent conversation piece.

I really enjoyed talking to the teachers and meeting some of them. We have the most incredible staff. They really care about these kids and they worked so hard.

Before I let you read my speech, I have to tell you about a few things that stood out to me.

1. This graduation was all about the students. Yes, I gave a speech, but I was told it needed to be short, under five minutes. Then the students did most of the talking. They gave excellent speeches and some of the things they said are reasons we love virtual schooling. They talked about how they learned how to manage their time effectively and how that will help them in college. They talked about being okay with being different and accepting others. They talked about their love of learning.

2. The graduates honored their parents. There was a part during the ceremony where one of the students sang (he did such a good job) and each graduate took a flower they had, walked to their parents and gave it to them, thanking them for their help. I watched one graduate who went down the row and thanked her parents, her siblings, her grandparents and her sincerity was just so touching. I loved seeing them take the time to thank their families.

3. The graduates were all just like "normal" kids. Some cool, some nerdy, some shy, some more outgoing, regular kids. (Regular kids who are extremely prepared for moving on in life.)

4. There was a graduate who was too perform a musical number at the end. She was very nervous and could not get her instrument to play. Now, if this had happened at a regular graduation (and I've seen this happen at graduations) someone would have laughed at her or booed her. Not here. Those graduates were cheering her on and gave her a standing ovation. I was so impressed.

I sat there are saw all this and I know if my kids decide to finish their schooling career with IDVA that would be pretty darn great.

Now, on to my part. I was very nervous. I may organize a lot of stuff, but I usually have someone else speak. I don't like to speak if I don't have to. This was also a huge day in many peoples' lives and all I could remember was the board member who spoke for 200 years at my graduation and how I was so bored. Of course, I also loathed high school so it wasn't really that exciting for me to graduate. I was just relieved. Truth be told, if this kind of school had existed when I was a teenager I would have excelled at it. I would have loved to manage my time and move quickly through what I liked and I would have learned my tricky subjects better. But, it wasn't so oh well.

Anyhow, I sat up front with the school administrators. At the last minute Representative Jeff Thompson showed up and sat by me (see him here). I felt all fancy. He was a really nice guy, said my speech was good. Of course, he is a politician so I can't be certain he meant it, hee hee.

So, I gave my speech. Sam was in the back with Henry and I told him to take a picture of me speaking so the kids will have proof one day that I did some nifty things. This is what he got.
It's me!

Man, those lights were bright. I was nervous, but I felt pretty good. My old performing skilz did me proud. Then, half way through the speech my head just exploded. OUCH. This fabulous tension headache hit me like a ton of bricks. I flubbed up right then and had to reread what I said. Dangitall. I finished though and even though my head was killing me the rest of the graduation, I feel good about how I did.

We went and got the kids from Grandma Kim and Grandpa Steve (they didn't want to leave as per usual) and then I went home and crawled into bed. Still dealing with this headache today. Boo. Oh well, it is over and I feel like it went okay.

So, here is my speech. Be gentle.

Hello, 2013 graduates! On behalf of the Idaho Virtual Academy Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate all of you on this wonderful accomplishment. You have spent the majority of your young lives working towards this moment and it is finally here. Now you can move to the next exciting chapter of your lives.

I have a confession to make. I woke up this morning and I still had not written this speech. I’m sure all of you got your assignments turned in on time so you have no idea what it is like to hurry and finish at the last minute.

Let’s all pray I master this assessment.

Anyhow, I was in a bit of a panic and found I had a serious case of writer’s block. So, I wandered around my house and found every inspirational saying and wrote them all down. I’m assuming at least one of these will apply to your life.

Be the change you want to see in the world

Pack light

Be gutsy

Rinse, lather and repeat

Strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up.

Be too big to take offense and too little to give it

External use only

Do what is right, not what is easy

Rated E for everyone

Be exactly who you are and then go out and support others being exactly who they are. We are all different, we are all valuable.


I’d like to take a moment to focus on that last thought.

Be exactly who you are and then go out and support others being exactly who they are. We are all different and we are all valuable.

We live in an age when it is very popular to be unique… just like everyone else.  There are so many groups to be a part of, causes to believe in and opportunities to change our little corners of the world. As many of you prepare to leave home and go to college or begin your new careers, start families… all the exciting new adventures you are about to have; you will be presented with so many opportunities to be involved with anything and everything that has ever interested you. You will meet fascinating people and if you choose, they will become a part of your lives. Over time you will find yourselves pulled in different directions by different people, groups and opinions and if you aren’t careful, you will lose track of the person you are today.

May I offer a piece of advice: Do not forget who you are.

Today, you are an incredible person. You are a one girl or boy revolution. You have strengths that will change this world for the better and you have weaknesses that will keep you humble and help you to appreciate others. Continue to grow as a person and by all means, never stop improving upon the wonderful person you are. But, please, do not mistake improving oneself for being someone you are not. What you each have to offer is unique and very important. Each one of you WILL change this world for the better, of that I have no doubt.

As you see your friends and family move on over the years, know that they will have these same pressures at times. Don’t let them ever forget how wonderful they are. Please, always go out of your way to encourage everyone you meet. My family always had a rule when we went somewhere that we were to leave that place better than we had found it. I urge you to leave every person you meet better for having known you.

Once again, I congratulate you on this achievement. Everyone in this room is so proud of you and eagerly looks forward to seeing what incredible things you will accomplish in this world. 


  1. Kimber! This is awesome! Steven is graduating from NVVA next year - can you come serve on our board and make an amazing speech like this at his graduation? Pretty please? ♥

  2. Oh I ADORE your speech. My mother died 20 years ago, but the thing she told me that sticks with me the most: Remember who you are. That advice has served me well. :)

  3. Jeff Thompson meant what he said when he said your speech was good:)! He is an awesome guy and is really genuine. In fact, if our little ALP group ever wants to take a road trip to Boise, I am sure I can get him to show us around!