Text of Ruiyang Xiao’s Commencement Address, May 19, 2019

Text of Ruiyang Xiao’s Prepared Commencement Address, May 19, 2019. The speech as delivered may have varied slightly from the text.

Greetings to all,

33207354_10156452320049540_5121195849858154496_nI understand that it is a very nice day and the seniors just want to get to the bell and ring it, so I will make this quick. My name in my home town of Beijing is Ruiyang Xiao. Only here am I Kevin, also known as 18 savage, King of northwood. I am apparently the only Asian ever bad at math according to Mr. Loud.

First some thank yous: to Colin and the other kitchen crew for making sure we didn’t starve to death, to Mr. Dingle for making sure we could always have maximum fun in outdoor activities, to Coach Doan, Bob, and Josh’s torture, for making us better snowboarders, and to Mrs. VanSlyke and Ms. Miller for supporting all of us artists.

I believe the school wants a sketchy looking kid like me to do the senior speech for a reason, perhaps the same reason that motivates me in life, to be unique, to seek happiness in celebrating what’s different. Being a so called “good person” does not mean getting perfect grades with straight As, or doing 300 hours of community service. It depends on the interaction you have with the people you are close to and even more with people you barely know. Judging by those standards, My first few months at Northwood were brutal; I was goofy and rebellious. I saw every single person who got in my way as my enemy and I spent a lot of time thinking about cool ways to get revenge. Just to make myself feel better. Yea, I admit I thought I was cool. I was like a hedgehog pointing the spikes of my mind all over the place, thinking nothing would ever dull them.

Fortunately, a few special people totally changed me in the way that they   and others   changed all of us.   The first person is a climber. Usually when faculty members start a conversation with me I can tell whether I am in trouble or whether I am going to be invited into their world. For instance, when Riffle says “I want to see you in my office after school meeting”     we all know what is going to happen next. However, this climber would look at me and make me wonder if he was going to congratulate me or give me dish crew for doing something that I had known was breaking the rules but decided to do anyways,    such as sliding rails without a helmet on. He would skip the boring adult talk and say: “Yeah, the head and the concrete must be a good combination” and walk away like nothing happened, leaving me to consider the consequences        instead of arguing against using a helmet.

The second person is the Rocket man. He is probably the happiest person I’ve ever seen. Always smiling and full of positive energy and sense of humor. “Nice to meet ya” “wouldn’t wanna be ya” is his  daily greeting. In class, we always seem to be having fun. Magically the 40 minutes class time flies by. We went bobsledding, made egg drop devices, and countless number of rockets of course. Everywhere around him, I could feel his strong excitement helping me achieving tasks that I never thought I could have. His class was definitely my favorite.

The third person is a farmer, but not a regular farmer. He is one of the few real farmers. He is like one of those older boys in my childhood that I would follow around. In school, wherever he goes, you can always see Kessel, Lambert, Kip, and other minions around him. It is not hard to explain the reason, sometime he is more like a friend than a teacher to me. Once he told me he was also a rebellious kid when he was at Northwood. But he never got into trouble because he used wisdom instead of anger. He taught me the best way to argue back against someone is to be reasonable and point out the evidence clearly. Getting to know this farmer was the turning point of my life in northwood.

The farmer deals with us in our terms. He cares about our feelings and friendship while enforcing the rules. On the one hand, if I keep causing trouble, he is going to punch me on shoulder; on the other hand, he is a role model who shows me how to be wise and who uses a super objective perspective to judge me, and make me reconsider my actions.

The faculty climber didn’t get on my case for the fun of punishing me. He actually cared about my safety. He understands that the punishment is the hard way, it may stop me for that moment but will never help in future, when there is no one supervising. His unique way of correcting me also let me understand that it is pointless to blindly fight against school rules, that is rebelling against nothing but myself. So I asked myself: “Why don’t I stop wasting time on these pointless things and reasonably change some of the school rules in ways that could benefit everyone.

The rocket man deeply understands the abilities and foibles of each one of his students. He truly believes in our potential and tries to support us in any he can. The feeling of being trusted lets us gain more confidence, put all our passion into the tasks, and gets us to feel responsible for our education because that we never wanted to disappoint him. He made me realize schoolwork is not just finding the easiest way to  deal with teachers and assignments. It is my own responsibility to finish what I choose to do.

Thanks again to Mr. Eaton the Farmer, Mr. Mellor the Climber, and Mr. Roy the Rocket man, without their guidance I wouldn’t be here as I would’ve been kicked out long ago.

So what have been the biggest lessons these teachers and the school as a whole have taught me?

I learnt the difference between being delinquent and being a useful rebel.

I learnt how to be consistent and responsible.

I learnt how to stay real and be my true self even tho the whole world wants us to be the same.

As I gets to the end, I find myself getting into less and less trouble in school. That doesn’t means I get used to the school rules or I am beaten up by the punishments. I was inspired by these wise human beings, and I respect them, respect their rule and advice. I have come to see the school rules as something like chains, but I have learned to dance while wearing these chains.

In the very end, I’d like to thank my parents for everything, without them I would have never made this far.

By the way, the Coronation of the new king of northwood, Aaron Levey, is about to commence.

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