Graduation Speech 2017

Isaac March

Graduate of Khalsa Montessori School and North High School, Phoenix, Arizona. Attending Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Students, friends, teachers, administrator, and parents, welcome. You are graduating from the 6th grade. In most schools that’s not a real big deal. As we all know at Khalsa, it is a… well I don’t want to exactly quote former Vice President Joe Biden, but it is a BIG deal.


My journey through Khalsa started in 2001 when I was in primary outback. Little did I know that attending this school would be one of the best decisions my parents have made to this date, to ensure my success. I started with Ms. Emily, and after a few years went to Ms. Susan’s class for lower elementary, then finally ended with Ms. Lindsay, Ms. Karen and Ms. M in upper elementary.  That’s a lot of elementaries.  And a lot of “Ms”es.  And I miss every Ms. and Mrs, dearly.

After leaving Khalsa, I went to two Great Hearts Academy schools, which as it turns out does not to have a cardiac department, and then on to North High School in the International Baccalaureate Program. I began middle school in south phoenix at Teleos Preparatory Academy.  My 7th-grade year challenged me to make new friends, which given my penchant for swearing and spitting, was not easy. I met one of my best friends there and I still talk to most of the people from my time there, to this day.  Khalsa’s diverse makeup and friendly pro-interactive environment made it so I was more than ready to surmount any barriers between my new classmates and I. And there were barriers from cultural to socioeconomic, but again I was prepared.

In 8th grade, I began the year at a charter school called Veritas Preparatory Academy.  There curriculum followed a more classical line where they required us to learn Latin and they began prepping us for Euclidian geometry. Which reminds me of a joke:  What did Euclid say when he was buried with a robe-full of dates?  Gee, I’m A Tree!  Too soon?  I digress, Khalsa prepared me to tackle these challenging classical concepts.

Khalsa is and has always been about process. The emphasis on working through a problem in multiple ways to find the best for you, and teaching process is just as important as results. My challenges in digesting curricula were easy to tackle.  Why?  Because of the Khalsa Montessori’s emphasis on approaching concepts every day in every way- upside, downside, inside-out– until you found ONE that allowed you to master the concept.

What I’m saying is Khalsa more than prepared me for classes and concepts I would not be introduced to till eighth grade or even freshman year.  It prepared me for life’s challenges. I was one of the few kids who would stay an extra year in lower elementary, a decision I have never regretted. It allowed me to grow more as a student and person and unlike traditional schools I was not forced to waste time and repeat material. In fact, I was pushed to continue moving forward in the curriculum. It taught me what some might consider a setback is actually an opportunity for growth and learning.

Closer to the present, I entered the International Baccalaureate, I.B program, a prestigious internationally standardized program meant to challenge and push every student into immersive study.  My IB experience was like being back at Khalsa. I thrived in the program because, thanks to Khalsa, I was like one of those gas stove where you turn the wheel-thing and it goes click-click-click-click-click-click-click and the spark finally ignites the gas. In other words, a self-starter. There I was able to thrive, and I did not fall to the most common infliction in the I.B. Program, stress. Spending more than half of my schooling so far without grades did not hurt me, but did the complete opposite in helping me to always remember retention and understanding of the material is just as important as the grade. This was not just me, my fellow former Khalsa classmates who were also in the I.B. program alongside me and were also blessed with the same lack of stress, thanks to our Khalsa days.

As I was going through my memories of my time at Khalsa, I could only really think of big events like the yearly trips to friendly pines, or the sixth year presentations. I realize now it is the culmination, consistency and process, from primary to sixth grade that shaped me. It’s such a wonderfully smooth process that you never truly realize how prepared you are for life’s obstacles, obstacles you don’t even know exist yet. Until, that is, you step out of Khalsa and into a bigger world.

All I can say to the graduates and parents of the graduates is not to worry (or worry less). Don’t get me wrong, your future school endeavors will be work, a lot of work.  However for the past few years you have attended a school which prepared you to take on any challenge, even if you feel like “barely made it” through.  Khalsa is truly high altitude training for the mind. Here are my parting words, focus on the concept, be curious and unafraid and the accomplishments and accolades will come along with it.