Last 30 July, the students of Xunqueira 1 High School celebrated their graduation ceremony. It was completely organised by the students, as the school and teachers decided not to participate, since the current situation would mean unacceptable responsibility in case of virus spread among participants.
Actually, there were only 37 students. Nevertheless, the ceremony was emotive. First, student Lara Durán gave a really mature speech expressing her respect for all the fellow students and teachers who had not come to the ceremony, because everybody has their own problems, fears and views and we must be thoughtful towards them. The speech ended with a touching “I got it”, dedicated to her father, who passed away last year.
Then the representatives of the other groups spoke about their experiences at school, which expressed mostly their good memories and their love for the school, the teachers in general and staff – especial memory to Mar-, talking about their class fellows and recalling anecdotes. Their words that conveyed gratitude and love for the school, the experience and teachers.
I gave the last speech – as a teacher -, in which, apart from talking about the privilege of teaching the first bilingual section, I highlighted the fact that they had showed great stamina and maturity by successfully going through the difficult situation of the quarantine and such a long year till the ABAU test in July. I also recalled some memories from 3º ESO, when I met most of the students at the graduation, with whom I lived a really rewarding experience, and the trip to Dublin with some of them, which revealed the respect, affection and the feeling that they make things easy for us.
As a father with three children in the working world for some years, I recommended them to make the most of the cultural and social opportunities the university life offers to improve their culture and social skills, as having a wonderful study report is not the only thing companies are looking for: being able to make decisions and a good team worker are qualities that are greatly valued.
The final part of my speech had a dreadful title: An ode to failure, an awful title for a graduation, but I hope that, on the whole, it means just the opposite of what it could suggest.
Then there were the typical videos with music and photos.
Finally, I would like to comment on the Covid protocols. It was perfectly organised outdoors for the ceremony, but I was really shocked when I saw the dinning tables, organised just as before the Covid. Is it so difficult to have a bigger separation, especially when there is plenty of space?
However, I must say that the attitude of the students and families was correct all through the ceremony and I had written my congratulations for that in advance, because I knew for sure they were going to behave that way.
An ode to failure
It’s failure, for a start, such an awful word
That in our country has an appalling fame,
It is like a stigma which you shouldn’t communicate,
For fear nobody will offer you work.
But just think it’s only my friends
The idea I often repeat in my lessons:
Learning usually happens after making plenty of mistakes,
As erring and solving your errors
Is the safest path not to make them again.
And in case you think it is easier said than done,
I’ll tell you that in my life outstanding failures I had some:
From failing a whole course at university
To being fired from my first job.
From the first I learned that calm and patience
Are fundamental and practical virtues.
That the strain to succeed is so exhausting
That can lead you to frustration.
From the second I discovered that some failures
Are a real blessing:
I got rid of a dreadful job
and studied to join public teaching,
which, after 38 years, allowed me to reach with illusion
This pleasant and cherished position.
We can think it is only good fortune,
And good luck is always necessary,
But when you go through several schools
And you enjoy being in all of them,
When you get on with your colleagues and mates,
If you are pleased with the students,
If you have no parents’ complaints
If you go to school with pleasure
And your work you are able to enjoy,
You will have to conclude
That from failure to failure
You have learned to fail,
Or maybe you now accept failure
As a natural part of your trail.
Oda o fracaso
É o fracaso, de entrada, palabra que soa terrible
E que neste país ten moi mala fama.
É case un estigma que non compre comunicar,
Non vaia ser que ninguén nos queira contratar.
Pero pensade, amigos, que non deixa de ser
O que na clase moitas veces repetín:
Nada se aprende sen meter a pata/ veces mil.
Xa que errando e solucionando os erros
É o xeito de non volvelos cometer.
E por se pensades que falar é máis fácil que facer
Direivos que na miña vida tiven sonoros fracasos:
Dende suspender un curso enteiro na universidade
Ata que me botaran do primeiro traballo.
Do primeiro aprendín que a calma e paciencia
Son virtudes prácticas e fundamentais.
Que o esforzo de non fracasar esgota moito,
E pódete levar ó fracaso.
Do segundo aprendín que hai fracasos
Que son unha bendición:
Libreime dun mal traballo, preparei unha oposición
O que tras 38 anos me permitiu chegar con ilusión
Á situación na que estou.
Podemos pensar que é sorte, e algo disto sempre hai
Pero cando pasas por moitos sitios
E en todos ben che vai,
Se te levas ben cos compañeiros
Se cos alumnos te levas ben
Se non tes problemas cos pais
Se o instituto a gusto vas
E consegues do traballo desfrutar
Terás por fin que concluír
Que de fracaso en fracaso
Aprendiches a non fracasar
Ou máis ben a integrar o fracaso
Coma parte da vida normal.