Below is my best attempt to offer a transcript from my talk at the 5th Grade Awards Ceremony for JD Lever Elementary School, Aiken SC on June 5, 2014. I did not have the audio but compiled my talk notes into this transcript as best as I could for those who were interested in reading or knowing the contents of my speech. It was a great honor to be asked to give the opening speech to those students who would be moving up to the 6th Grade.
Good Morning. I am George Tallmage. I am a Husband, Father, and Pastor. I personally think I am great at all of those roles but my wife may say different, my kids may say different, the congregation I Pastor may say different. Since, I am the one speaking I guess all that matters is that I think I’m great at each of those roles. [laughs from crowd]
This morning I hope to offer some words of encouragement as you embark on a new chapter in your life. You’ve made it through the chapter of elementary school and will be entering the next chapter, middle school.
I would like to take a moment to thank Mrs. Ellis, the wonderful school staff, and the committee led by Mrs. Harper who put this ceremony together. I count it a great honor to be able to share this time with you and speak into your life over the next few moments.
I would like you to help me thank all those who had part in your formation here at JD Lever. Can you join with me in giving the incredible teachers, administrators, and support staff a hand clap of gratitude in an orderly fashion. [Claps from Crowd]
To all Parents, Grandparents, Guardians, and family members, thank you for being here to celebrate this milestone in your child’s life. In an orderly fashion let’s offer a clap of gratitude. [Claps from Crowd]
If my calculations are correct, you are the class of 2021. In 7 years you will walk across a stage, receive a diploma, and start your journey towards college, a job, and a family of your own. To date you have been in school (including 5k) for the past 6 years. That equals approximately 1,080 days or 7,020 hours, which have been spent here at JD Lever.
Over the past six years you have learned many new things. You have learned to read, here. You have learned to write, here. You have learned basic life skills like; respect, not to talk while others are talking, walking in a straight line, raising your hand, classroom etiquette and the list goes on. You have discovered some of your talents. You have learned a love for art, music, sports, reading, technology and computers. Most importantly you have learned the importance of working together and the rewards for a job well done.
You could call this chapter in your life’s journey a foundation. A starting point. As you sit here today you have received a great start. However, a great start doesn’t always lead to a great finish.
Each of you have been given a great start at life. You have had supportive and loving parents or guardians. You’ve built friendships. You’ve had the support and love of teachers who have made you a priority. Your start has been great, your starting point has been right here. But a great start doesn’t always mean a great finish. You were made to finish and finish well. To finish well means you take responsibility. You are entering Middle School, there will be new things for you discover. You will build on what you have learned here. You will develop and solidify your beliefs as well as your view of life.
There is one thing I want to leave you with to think about. I want you to start your summer and the rest if your life knowing, You were born to make a difference.
In an orderly fashion repeat after me, I Was Born to Make a Difference.
Ask: What were you born for? (To Make a Difference)
You were born to make a difference. Your life is not an accident. You are not an accident, you were born to make a difference and you can make a difference.
You have a purpose, (repeat, I was born to make a difference). You have talents, (repeat, I was born to make a difference). You have abilities, (repeat, I was born to make a difference)
In closing, there are three traits that I have identified which I believe will help you make a difference.
Honor your parents.
According to my life manual, (knowing that I am a Pastor it’s not a secret as to what my life manual is) I have learned that there are benefits to honoring my parents. I am told to honor my father and mother that my days may be long on the earth. You can make a difference by honoring your parents.
According to the life manual which I follow I am told that other people are important. I must honor them regardless of how different they may be from me. You can make a difference by honoring others.
According to the life manual which I follow I am told that I was created uniquely and with a divine purpose. I must accept the fact that I am different from other people. I can only be me? You can make a difference by honoring yourself.
Boys and Girls, we are cheering you on. We are counting on you to make a difference. You were born to make a difference, go and make a difference.