A Recent Student's Graduation Speech

My Graduation Speech
By Maggie Weaver

I have been given the great honor to speak here today representing my classmates as we end our journey through Carden together.  I can only hope that my words are sufficient to correctly express the thoughts and feelings of our hearts at this time.

I will begin with a question:  How is it that we find ourselves standing here, right now, a part of this wonderful school, surrounded with wonderful people and supportive families?  Let me tell you a story that will hopefully put this into perspective.

    Over forty-one years ago, caring parents wished for their children to have the best possible education; a place that would nurture character as well as the mind.  Their search led to the teaching methods of Mae Carden, which ultimately led Mrs. Jeffs to start a school of her own.  Through much hard work and help from others, this school grew, and grew, and grew.  It outgrew buildings and moved from place to place until it came to its present location.  This is how Carden Memorial School began.

    Forty years ago, caring parents wished for their daughter to have the best education possible. They found the ideal school, one that was founded on the methods of Mae Carden, the Pinewood school in Los Altos California. This is how my Mother’s Carden journey began.  And in a similar way, many Carden parents and grandparents also began their journey.

    About ten years ago, our caring parents wished for us to have the best education possible. They found the ideal school, a place that would nurture our character as well as our minds, a place that many of them had experienced themselves.  They placed us in the keeping of Carden Memorial School.  This is how our Carden journey began.

    People may ask, ‘How is Carden different from other schools?  What makes Carden such an ideal school?’ As I thought about this, three things immediately came to mind, the first being its Christian foundation.  As the student handbook says, “Miss Carden felt that a classical education was not possible without a knowledge of the Bible.”  Mae Carden believed that students should be taught to live by the Golden Rule. Each morning, the students participate in a class Bible study, where we learn about the Old and New Testaments. As shown in many of her meditations, Miss Carden believed firmly in the Power and Blessings that come from reverencing God.  Many of the meditations ask God for help and comfort.

    The fourth one says,

“Each of us is important to God.
Each of us is on earth to fulfill God’s plan.
When I remember to keep God important to me,
All is well.”

    The twelfth meditation states,

“The world belongs to God.
All the beauty, the wonder, and the grandeur
Is ours to enjoy while we live.
Our soul is our only possession.
It is ours to make or to mar,
With our thoughts, and words, and deeds.”

    The second thing that sets Carden apart is its emphasis on Patriotism.  Even from a young age, Carden students learn to develop a love and respect for our country.  In our class devotionals each morning, the older students recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and the younger students recite Mae Carden’s Pledge to the Flag.  Please join with me in repeating this pledge if it comes to memory.

“I love the flag of my country.  I love the flag of the United States.
I love the red, the white, and the blue.  Flag of my country, I love you.”
You’re probably used to hearing it in French.

    Not only do we learn as students to love and to respect our country, we learn to love and understand the history of our country and those who sacrificed so that we, their descendants, could have a better future.  A quote from the Library of Congress says, “The history of the world is the biography of great men.” Now it is our duty to be grateful to them.  Mae Carden once said, “Gratitude does not limit. The real treasures of life come to the grateful, for they know that wealth is not the goal of life, that fame has little substance, and that the inner life of each and every person is the all-important facet of living.” 

    Together, we experienced the high point of the Carden education on the American History Tour.   We were able to see the original founding documents of our nation, visit historical sites and memorials, but more importantly, feel the spirit of those sacred places, where courage, sacrifice, intellect, and virtue came together.  While we were visiting a war memorial in Washington D.C., a group of elderly veterans were there as well. A few of my classmates took advantage of this opportunity to show gratitude.  They approached a veteran and thanked him for his sacrifice and service.  One gentleman was so touched to be recognized, that, as he departed, tears rolled down his cheek.  May we all learn from this experience to be grateful and respectful to our country, its history, and its heroes.

    The third thing that sets Carden apart is our Teachers.  What a blessing it is to have teachers who care about us as individuals, who teach us because they want us to succeed.

    You may be familiar with this saying from a well-known coach: “ I am not here to make a champion team, I’m here to make champion boys.”  Not only do our teachers want us to learn valuable academic skills, they want us to learn valuable character traits.  Another quote from the Library of Congress says, “Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding.” Our teachers wish for their lessons to reach deeper than just the academic level.  Mrs. Brewerton always tells us that she’s not here to teach us math, she’s here to teach us how to think.

    These Carden Triads remind us of the qualities we need to have:

“Remember to be courteous, pleasant, and to smile.”
“Remember to always play fair, be honest, and never cheat.”
“Remember to be kind, considerate, and compassionate.”

    But then again, it doesn’t matter how many classes we go to, or how many lessons are taught, we only learn if we choose to.  Mae Carden put it well when she said, “School is the door to knowledge, but the pupil must turn the key.”

    So let us continue, with a ready mind and an open heart, as we strive to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in our next season of life.  Let us all remember the saying, “They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts.”

    No matter if you are a guest, a relative, a former graduate, or graduating today, we would do well to thank these wonderful teachers who have given so much.

    Along with my teachers, I would also like to thank my classmates. Through ten long years, some have been here right from the start, some have come in the beginning, some have joined us near the end, some have left us along the way, some have gone and come back, but all here today have made it to the end of our Carden journey.

    I can remember when I was younger, and thinking how big and scary the older students were, and believing that I would never be that big (or scary).  Slowly but surely, though, we’ve all progressed through the years.  I remember it being such a big deal moving from the little Jr. Kindergarten building to the main building, and then from the East Wing to the West Wing.  In sixth grade we were officially the “Big Kids,” and we thought we were so cool.  Then in seventh grade, we knew we were so cool.  Not until recently have we discovered, we really weren’t that cool.

    This year has seemed to go by so fast, and it wasn’t until the American History Tour that it hit me: this is it.  It marks the close of many years of memories and friendships.  While we were on the tour, we got so many stares from other school groups and tourists. The adults were very complimentary but the other kids just rolled their eyes.  What I hope they saw was a bunch of friends having a good time, making memories, and drawing closer every day.  Because that’s what I saw.

    Through all these years, we have become like a family, watching out for each other, encouraging each other, and helping each other in times of need.  Each one of you has made such an impact on me, that I know I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for you.  We have come to the close of our life together at Carden, but as Mr. Jeffs always says, “Life is a series of adjustments.” 

Today, as we leave Carden, we would like to express our gratitude one last time to Mr. and Mrs. Jeffs for devoting their lives to running this school, to our classmates for being true friends, to our teachers for guiding us through our education, and to our own families and caring parents who started us on this journey and made all of this possible.  That is how we find ourselves standing here right now, a part of this wonderful school, and surrounded with wonderful people and supportive families.

So, as we each go our own separate ways, let us live the Carden motto of “Love and Fidelity,” to our friends, our teachers, the Jeffs and most importantly, our families.   Some final words of wisdom from Mae Carden: “Follow the path that will lead you to being a better person, one for whom you will have respect and one with whom you will be satisfied to live your whole life long.”---“Be generous, grateful, and remember to say ‘thank you.’”

By Maggie Weaver