Greetings, 5th District! Last month was a busy one full of end-of-school-year happenings, including graduation ceremonies. I felt honored to speak in front of various graduating classes, including George Wythe High School's Class of 2021. Here is the speech I gave to them:
"As 5th District School Board Representative, I want to tell you that I can't believe I am here standing before you. I am the eldest of six children, born to 19-year-old Richmonders who did not go to college. In fact, my father went to Vietnam before graduating, and my mom, who struggled to believe in herself, didn't earn her GED until I was twelve. I still remember the work she put in going to night school after work, and how proud I was of her when she finally passed. Her nemesis was the same as mine: math.
I stand before you as someone few people expected to ever be here. Mine was a long and difficult but often wonderful journey. I literally worked my way with the help of some great teachers and adult mentors from near the bottom to where I am now. I am an example of what is possible if you keep getting up after being knocked down. Considering what I've learned along the way, and from raising my own sons, there are three things I'd like to share with you.
Number one, follow your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you what is impossible for you. There will be people who doubt your dreams, who will not believe in your potential. Never listen to them, no matter who they are.
Number two: work hard and trust the process. In most cases, the road to your dream will not be a straight one. Don't let the detours scare you. Don't let the low points discourage you. Keep pushing! Your destiny is ahead.
And number three: I know it's been a rough year, but find joy in the here and now. Following your path, reaching for the stars is hard work. Take time to enjoy your life along the way. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Play the videos games, make the TikToks, play, and laugh -- really laugh. Don't take things too seriously. Prioritize your work, but also take care of yourselves. Exercise doing something you love. Get outside and love yourselves.
Love yourselves! For the more you do that, the more you are able to love others -- and the more you love others, the more compassion you will have with people whether you agree with them or not. It is often, though not always, in the space between that we find solutions.
I, like all the adults in your lives, including RPS staff, our city's staff, our Mayor, our teachers, and especially your loved ones, are so proud of you for reaching this milestone as you are now officially the Class of 2021. I am so honored to be here in person to let you know that no matter ho far you travel in life, you will always have a home at RPS. We love you. Go forth and change the world. Remember, George Wythe, we love you and there is not a thing you can do about it.
¡Felicidades, clase senior! Congratulations, George Wythe Bulldogs!"
Stephanie Miller Rizzi
Zoom Link for Office Hours
Thursday, July 29th
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm