Pay it forward – Six Pillar Induction

Dr. Bergen, Mr. Ogden, Mr. Parnell, students, faculty, staff and honored guests:

Thank you for inviting me to this ceremony and for letting me be a part of this special event.  It is truly a privilege to be here to honor the six pillars of character ambassadors.

When I look at the students here on the stage and out in the audience, I see the future.  And I see young lives who strive to live up to the six pillars:

Trustworthiness,

Respect,

Responsibility,

Fairness,

Caring, and

Citizenship.

And as I look out, I think about how you got here.  Each of you are who you are because you have some wonderful people in your lives.  You have great parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, teachers, principals, esp’s, custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries, and coaches – all contributing in their own way to the formation of your character.  Each of them helping you, to help yourself.

When you think about these people and what they have done for you, you might wonder how it is that you’ll ever be able to pay them back for what they have done for you.  You’ll likely never be able to pay them back, however.  And frankly, they don’t expect to get paid back.

But you can pay it forward.

“Pay it forward” is a book and a movie, but it’s also an idea. It’s an action plan that began as a work of fiction, but has now become a social movement.

It got its fictional start at a middle school just like Horace Mann.  Mr. St. Clair, the teacher in the book and movie handed out an extra-credit assignment to his class.  He told his students to think of an idea for world change, and put it into action.

Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of “pay it forward,” thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: “you see, i do something real good for 3 people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, i say they have to pay it forward.

To 3 more people. Each.

So 9 people get helped. Then those people have to do 27.” he turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. “then it sort of spreads out, see. To 81. Then 243. Then 729. Then 2,187. See how big it gets?”

Before Trevor knows it, his little idea has spread throughout the world and made a profound difference in people’s lives.

I have seen and read about many wonderful examples of how you all have done some wonderful things for this community and others outside of Franklin.  That’s a tribute to all of you and underlies the notion of pay it forward.

I’d like to tell you about someone who paid it forward to me.  He was a teacher of mine — Mr. McGee.  I went to school with Molly’s dad who I know is in the audience so he can verify that Mr. McGee is not a made-up character.  I was a bit of a shy kid but i liked to write.  And Mr. McGee was an english teacher.  He encouraged me, among other things, to start a newspaper at the school which we affectionately called the Unicorn and we published it once a week.  He worked with me not only on that newspaper, but reminded me to never be absent, do my own work, and learn for the sake of learning.  And at the end of my few years with him, he gave me this little trophy as a momento of our time together.  Thirty years later, that little plastic trophy stands on my desk, and I call it my pay it forward card.

Dr. Bergen told you I come here when asked and do work with the School Committee.  Why do i do it?  Well, I come to pay it forward and as a way to thank Mr. McGee and the many others who helped me.  I only ask that you do the same as you grow older.

On behalf of the School Committee, I applaud you for your efforts, congratulate you, and wish you well in the future.  Today the six pillar society is receiving a talented group of individuals who no doubt will give that organization a strong foundation.  The Franklin community is blessed and we are indeed proud of you.

Congratulations and thank you.

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