This coming Wednesday, fifth graders from throughout our school district will leave their regular classrooms and travel to the high school for a special occasion.

The Big Idea.

This year’s 5th grader will graduate, if all goes according to plan, in the year 2020. Kind of a symbolic year, 2020…as in 20/20 vision…looking to the future.

The United Way and our school district have partnered to develop a project to support the needs of this class to make sure that everything possible is done to help them all graduate. It is a big goal…a big undertaking…a big idea.

At the kick-off celebration next week, there will be activities and dignitaries and food and a lot of general hubbub. There will also be a student speaker from each school. I had the honor of selecting the speaker from our school, and I want to share her speech with you here.

My name is Xandrea and I am a fifth grader….just like you.

Every one of us has a life filled with challenges. We have all experienced both good things and difficult things. Personally, I have lost friends and family members to cancer. I have also just become an aunt. Life has sadness, but it also has joy.

Our world has had some bad things happen. School violence, natural disasters…things that make students worry about others and about ourselves. When something bad happens somewhere else it makes us wonder if it could happen here…and how it would affect us.

But challenges don’t have to slow us down. We can keep working toward better things. We can work together, as a group of young people, to support each other and encourage each other. We can help each other work hard and be successful. We can make a decision to graduate high school and college and accomplish things we’ve always wanted to do.

Projects like The Big Idea and people like you and me…this is how we can make a positive change for all students.