Editor’s note: OFJCC President and CEO Zack Bodner had the privilege of addressing the Leslie Family Preschool Class of 2021 on May 28, 2021 as they marked the end of their preschool years and journey forward. Please find Zack’s speech below.
Welcome, Leslie Family Preschool Class of 2021! It’s a joy see you all here. This past year has been a challenge. It hasn’t been easy. We have had to wear masks, we’ve had to cancel travel plans, and we’ve stayed inside a lot.
But now that more people are getting vaccines, and we are seeing COVID rates going down, this is a time to celebrate and be happy. And what better way to do that than by smiling more?
Friends, that is my message to you today: Smile more.
Even if you’re wearing a mask, when you smile more, people can see your eyes crinkle up and they know you’re smiling.
Even if you’re on Zoom, when you smile more, people can see that you’re happy.
When you smile more, you make new friends more easily.
When you smile more, you feel more optimistic about life.
When you smile more, your body makes chemicals that make you feel more relaxed and helps your body fight disease.
When you smile more, it’s contagious! Kind of like yawning … you ever notice how when you yawn, you can make others yawn too?! Well, the same with smiling: if you smile at someone, you can make them smile too!
When you recognize things that make you happy and smile about them, you see more of the good in life. There is an old Jewish teaching called “hakarat hatov” – recognizing the good. It’s an attitude in life. It’s like if you lose your keys to your house, you have to think: well at least I have a house! That’s ‘seeing the good.’ That’s hakarat hatov. And that attitude has to make you smile more.
Graduating preschoolers, this is where you have something to teach the grownups. Some say that adults smile around 40 times a day, while children smile hundreds of times a day!
Preschoolers, you adapted brilliantly to your changing environment over the last year. Educators, you brought out the best in everyone. And parents, your partnership is what made it all possible. That is resilience in action.
Graduating preschoolers, you will be entering the next phase in your lives: kindergarten. It is a time to reflect back on your years at the Leslie Family Preschool and the beautiful memories you’ve made here. We hope you’ll stay part of the community here. We hope that you’ll come to swim in the pool, play on the Oasis Play Space, take a jog around the field, attend a great family event or say hello to an old teacher. We’ll be waiting for you … with a smile.
Thank you and congratulations!