The First Commencement Speech

Presented to the Baker-Butler fifth grade class of 2003 by John Baker

"You are students who will attend some of the finest schools in the region. I am sure that the Fifth graders, their teachers, and your parents feel that you are completing one of the finest elementary school in the region -- Baker-Butler. From here you will go to Sutherland and then to Albemarle High School. You are the first graduating class from Baker-Butler therefore your teachers, your parents, the community and I want you to go forward as a Baker-Butler Bear and grades of excellence and continue your high achievement.

Some of you may be a little frightened about going into a large middle school but I want to assure you that you, as a Baker-Butler Bear, are just like a little boy named Issuno Boshi.

Long ago in Japan an old couple prayed to Buddha for a child. One day there was a baby crying outside the house. The great Buddha has answered their prayers. However the little boy was only one inch long. The parents named him Issuno Boshi, the "Little Inch Boy". He played in the Garden and had the heart of a lion and his great ambition was to become a Samurai, that is a great warrior class, and serve a noble lord in Kyoto. He had all the equipment of the warrior class. A Helmet, a Short Sword, a Breastplate, a Long Sword, a Cape and a Kimono. One day he felt he was ready to fulfill his ambition. He announced to his parents that he was on his way to Kyoto.

The quickest way was by river to Kyoto. So he set off in a boat made from a rice bowl and chopsticks for oars. His parents were sad but they were proud. Issuno Boshi was excited when he arrived in Kyoto. "This is where I belong. I can prove myself to be a brave and trusted soldier."

He went to the gate of Lord Sanjo's castle. He took time to attract the attention of the guards at the gate. "I am Issuno Boshi! I have heard many tales of the great Lord Sanjo and it is my wish to serve him. Please announce my arrival." The guards were surprised. Issuno Boshi looked very commanding as he stood before them grasping a sewing needle his mother had given him as a sword. Feeling no choice the guards presented Issuno Boshi to Lord Sanjo. Lord Sanjo, feeling kindly toward Issuno Boshi, appointed him to be a special body guard to Princess Makiko, Lord Sanjo's daughter. He dangled from a string on the edge of her umbrella.

Returning from the temple on a beautiful day, the sky darkened. Out of the wind stepped the giant Red Demon. He had come to capture the princess. Swish, Swish, Swish went the Samurais sword but the Giant Red Demon was too strong. The Guards fled in terror. Only Issuno Boshi stood his ground. "I am Issuno Boshi," he shouted up to the Giant. "I will destroy you. Prepare yourself, Red Demon." When the Red Demon saw who was speaking, he scooped up Issuno Boshi in his hand. "You are no bigger than a mouse and small one at that."

Issuno Boshi was too quick for the giant and plunged into his mouth and ran down the giant's stomach. JAB, JAB, JAB, JAB. Here, there and everywhere Issuno Boshi thrust his little sword. "Ooh, Aah, Help, Help!" howled the Giant. "Surrender!" demanded the little Samurai. "Promise that you will never be evil again." "Yes, yes, I promise. Please come out." Issuno Boshi leapt out. The Red Demon clutched his stomach and ran away.

In his rush to get away, the Red Demon dropped his magical hammer. As Issuno Boshi reached out and touched the hammer, a miracle happened! Issuno Boshi began to grow and grow and grow. There he stood, not Issuno Boshi but General Horikawa, a handsome and gallant Samurai. It was not long before General Horikawa's bravery spread throughout Japan. Issuno Boshi's great ambition had been realized. It was also not long before General Horikawa and Princess Makiko were married. Not forgetting his loving parents, Issuno Boshi invited them to share his home and newfound happiness in Kyoto.

That is the story of the little inch boy. We can all grow to do great deeds even if we are small. Do not be afraid of moving on - You are prepared! Just as Issuno Boshi was.

Fifth Graders, Let's get ready for Sutherland!

First, I want you all to stand and face your family and friends and applaud them for the support they have given to you. Next, I want to applaud the teachers of Baker-Butler for the knowledge they have imparted to you. Now, let us put on the equipment of the Samurai.

  • The Helmet of Trustworthiness
  • A Short Sword of Respect
  • A Breastplate of Caring
  • A Long Sword of Fairness
  • A Cape of Responsibility
  • And A Proud Kimono of Citizenship

When it is time to enroll at Sutherland, I want you to pound on the door of Sutherland, just as Issuno Boshi pounded on the door of the Lord Sanjo's castle.

"I am ______________________, I have come to be a Samurai and excel at Sutherland Middle School."

Best wishes and good luck as you continue your journey in education. We are all proud of you.