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First Graduation Ceremony Commencement Speech CATS Academy Boston

Tue 10 Jun 2014 < Back to listing

CEG Managing Director's Speech addressing first graduating class from CATS Academy Boston

CATS Academy Boston students, parents, faculty and staff,

Thank you Jim, for your very kind introduction.

As you all can hopefully can tell I am British. I thought I’d share with you today a little bit about what we were thinking when we brought CATS to Boston, my take on the continued attraction of America and finally a few pointers for the graduating class.

Approximately 235 years after the US declared independence from the Britain (as far as I can tell they didn’t have much to complain about given the lowest taxes in the British Empire & benevolent governance we provided but there’s simply no pleasing some people) CATS in 2011 decided belated to counter-attack. We decided to launch in the US & decided that Boston was the ideal first home for CATS Academy. Boston is the academic capital of America & as you all now know a great and beautiful city.

We believed there was a home within the American high school system for a school focussed on the needs of students from all over the world. We were not seeking to recreate a British experience in the America but deliver a great American High School experience focussed on the needs of all students wishing to go on to great US Colleges.

It is therefore a great honour for me, less than 3 years later, to be asked to give this address to our first graduating class from CATS and again I would like to thank Jim Tracy our new head of school for inviting me today.

I did ask an American friend what was expected of a commencement speech in the US, things are done slightly differently in the UK, and he said I could really say whatever I like. I have four teenage children at home and suddenly it dawned on me the scale of the opportunity that gave me!. To offer advice, however well-intentioned and sound, to group of teenagers and, probably, not be answered back! Now that’s an opportunity I’m looking forward to.

During this trip I have been in California to scout out the possible next location for CATS Academy (CATS Academy Silicon Valley or CATS Academy San Francisco are possibilities) and during this trip I have been considering what is at the heart of the continued success of America and why we all find the American experience so attractive & compelling. I hope these thoughts will also provide some guidance to this graduating class. I have narrowed my thinking down to three things all focussed on the strengths of the American people; focus on Customer Service, positive can-do attitude and good, old fashioned, hard work.

I think these three things are contributing to the success so far of CATS Academy Boston and are virtues that our graduating class could do a lot worse than emulate.

At CATS our great staff have been really supportive of the students from the start even though many had not taught so many different nationalities before. The success has been so strong that we taking some of the practises here back to our UK high schools.

The strength of our US boarding experience, extra-curricular activities and cultural exposure has been fantastic.

Can do attitude! This is the American way. Often America is the first into an economic slump but invariably it’s the first out. Americans appear much less jealous of others success than their European counterparts. Americans don’t ask why has he or she got that or done that but how can I do something similar and be as successful. This leads to a much greater culture of entrepreneurship. In the speed we got CATS Academy off the ground we threw all sorts of issues at our new team and invariably they rose to the challenge.

On hard work I would like to share with you two appropriate quotes. Thomas Edison, the inventor, simply; “There is no substitute for hard work”. Second another Thomas, Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United states “it seems the harder I work the more luck I have”. I recall Gary Player, the golfer saying something similar.

So let me thank all the CATS staff here today for their huge efforts in bringing CATS to a successful conclusion of its second year of operation. When we landed in 2011 had I been offered the position we now find ourselves in I would have gladly accepted. There is more to do but we are on our way, thank you.

Congratulations to all our graduating students on the University destination they have attained. Many thanks for the support they received from our great College Counselling team of Sophia and Rebecca.

You move on to great institutions throughout the United States. Please take advantage of the opportunities that these entities offer both inside the classroom, lecture hall or laboratory but also outside. There will be opportunities to try new things, whether they are sporting, intellectual or simply social that can sustain & enrich you for the rest of your life. Personally in College I was luckily enough to meet a classmate who had his skipper’s license to charter a yacht; after many enjoyable vacations on sailing boats in the Mediterranean and Caribbean I now have my own license and am due to skipper a boat this summer.

To take these opportunities one step further it’s not just what you know but who you know. I hope you have made friendships here at CATS that will last through-out your lives and similarly at University I trust you will do the same. Continually building those networks through-out your life is really as important the learning within the classrooms.

One word of warning. The gap between high school & College is significant. The support you receive will be different. There aren’t these fantastic teaching staff chasing your assignments, ensuring you are in the right place at the right time or dorm staff waking you up to get the bus! You will need to be more self-disciplined than before. Please schedule your time wisely. I know I struggled with this initially at College so please start as you mean to go on.

Most of all please enjoy your time at University; my recollection was this was one of the best times of my life.

One last huge thank you. Please allow me to play tribute to the founding head of CATS Academy Boston, Charlie Clark. He and his initial team pulled off the near impossible by having the school ready for opening in September 2012 & today is the culmination of those efforts. Charlie is leaving us to take up a new head of school post in Lake Taho in California & we wish him, and his wife Gale, all the very best for the future.

In closing I’d like to end with a quote from Winston Churchill possibly the greatest Briton of the 20th Century;

“Never, never, never give up.”

Thank you very much.

CEG Managing Director
Mark Stanton




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