A Lyrical Lesson for the Class of 2018

Several weeks have passed since Frankfurt International School’s Class of 2018 walked across the stage in the Oberursel Stadthalle to accept their well-earned diplomas. But the magic of the day still lingers. As Head of School at FIS I have had the pleasure of welcoming graduation speakers ranging from diplomats to astronauts, famous mountain climbers to entrepreneurs and environmentalist. For this most recent ceremony, I had the pleasure of introducing a Grammy and Oscar Award-winning musician, Luis Resto.

Mr. Resto delivering the 2018 FIS Graduation Commencement speech.

Just as all of our graduation speakers are unique, so too are the ceremonies. This one stood out, however, because of its format; Mr. Resto delivered much of his speech via song. In my introduction of Mr. Resto, I shared a few of my own reflections on music – one of which being that while I may not be a musician, I am able to recognize that a school community is very much like an orchestra. Frankfurt International School is a very fine orchestra indeed – and one in which I am privileged to play my part. Like an orchestra, our international community is a highly diverse group, where each of the more than 30 languages spoken in the FIS hallways have their own melody.

An individual, like a single instrument, has amazing creative potential. And yet when joined with others, something magical takes place. There is a synergistic response where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Just as a masterpiece of art is made up of different colors and textures, and a masterwork symphony is made up of different instruments and melodies, the FIS Class of 2018 is a master community of individuals whose voices, actions and dreams have melded together in the classrooms, stages and playing fields of our school.

As musicians know, it is impossible for a symphony to be played exactly the same a second time. So, too, the unique talents and bonds of the Class of 2018 will never be repeated. In years to come, as our graduates look back on their class and their experiences at FIS, I hope they will come to appreciate this uniqueness and celebrate what they have achieved together.

Mr. Resto is the living embodiment of what it means to be a “Music Man” and his performance-rich speech touched on themes that were important in shaping his life – and the trajectory of his successful career – but that were also applicable to our graduating seniors. Among them, “planning for no plan” and leaving space for the happy (and not-so-happy) accidents that each of us learns from; doing what you love; collaborating; and most importantly, being kind to one another.

Mr. Resto’s speech left a lasting impression on me, as I believe it did for all of those in attendance. A recorded version of it is available here. I hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Photo of Luis Resto at FIS Graduation by Felix Wachendörfer (Foto-Wachendörfer)