The Learning Edge
By Madison Siwak, Class of 2016
Editor’s Note: At graduation, we invite our students to share a performance, speech, or story that reflects the uniqueness of their educational journeys. This speech by 15-year-old graduate Madison Siwak describes the power of words and offers inspiration for anyone who feels they have something important to say.
00:00:01 — Words are the most important thing in the world. Think about it. When parents talk to their babies, they don’t say, “Use your fists” or “Use your babbling noises.” They say, “Use your words.”
00:00:25 — Words have the ability to start and finish wars. The power to shape cultures and define history. They even come in over 6500 languages.
00:01:34 — People of all shapes and sizes have been writing for centuries, and they have shaped history with their words. Take Thomas Jefferson, for example, who penned the Declaration of Independence. What about people like William Shakespeare, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Upton Sinclair, Karl Marx, William Faulkner, just to name a few? By picking up their pen, their quill, or whatever they wrote with, they’ve gotten words that were stuck inside their head down on paper, and we get to read it every day.
00:02:26 — When words enter your head, they stick there, and they’re going to be in there waiting for you to use them. They’re going to be there for the rest of your life, so by reading, writing, or listening to someone speak or perform, that opens a whole new world to you.
00:03:37 — Remember that words can establish peace and create bonds between people. If all it takes is for me to learn a few more words [in another language] and I can make a friend half way across the world, that sounds pretty good to me.
00:04:13 — If you speak and if your words are meaningful and powerful enough, people will actually listen to you. By choosing to speak and let people know what your thoughts are, that is powerful stuff. Words will not get you anywhere if you keep them crammed inside your head. I’m not saying be a loud mouth or be obnoxious or anything like that. I’m just saying that you should speak up, express yourself, be passionate about your own words. It’ll take you so far.
00:04:37 — You might hate writing, reading might give you a headache, learning a language is hard, and public speaking might be terrifying to you. So, let me tell you something. I’m only 15 years old, which means that I’ve only understood words for about 13 of those years—ever since I was a toddler or thereabouts—but as I look around, and I see everyone here from around the world and people of all different ages, I understand that every one of us has the right and the ability to use our words and our minds to the fullest.
00:05:08 — Just one word from you to you could spark friendship. Or perhaps something that you jot down could be the idea for the next great American novel, and something that you read could inspire you to go out and make a difference. So, let me end this speech with something that we’ve been told since we were babies, something that we should continue to remember. Remember to use your words.
About Madison Siwak
Madison has made a huge difference in her hometown of Clawson, Michigan, investing countless hours in a variety of community-oriented activities. She is a founder and director of the Acting Out Kids Community Theatre; creator and co-host, with her brother Max, of the Awesome Clawson and Awesome Clawson Kids cable television shows; and an active and indispensable volunteer for the Clawson Chamber of Commerce. In June 2016, she graduated from Clonlara’s Off-Campus Program at age 15 and is currently taking classes at her local community college.
How do you use your words to make a difference? Please share your stories with us.