The second student speaker at the Kolbe Graduation 2019 was Gavriella “Aviva” Lund who, when it was her time to speak, was still on a plane that had been diverted due to the heavy rain. It was only afterwards, during the reception following the ceremony, that Aviva arrived at the Catholic Center. In a spirit of true Kolbe fellowship, nearly all the guests reentered the auditorium to listen to Aviva’s speech which was complemented by a thundering applause.
To listen, click “play”.
Wow. What a blessing it is to be able to stand here today. Really, I could still be in Savannah right now, sitting in a plane with no fuel as Atlanta is swarming with storms. But I’m not. I’m here, and never have I more appreciated the saying, “Better late than never,” than I do today.
Looking around here at this incredible group of world-changing individuals, I can’t help but stand up with my chest held high and my face looking up to Heaven, saying, Thank you, God.
Thank you for the gift of being raised and educated through Kolbe Academy, where young scholars are equipped with the abundance of truth in union with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Hooh! See, that’s what I call a joyous mouthful.
Joyous, because it’s awesome, it’s like handing a little child a big present wrapped in ribbons of gold, and it’s not even his birthday. In fact, it’s just Monday. He never saw it coming.
A mouthful, because when he opens this huge, decorated box, a burst of light and confetti and candy flows out. And after being thrown back by the force of the explosion, he gets up, tiptoes over, and peaks over into the box, squinting through the blinding light. And what does he see?
At first, it’s hard for him to tell. But with each passing moment, the figure becomes clearer and sharper to his sight…
You see, that’s how I would describe my experience homeschooling with Kolbe Academy.
It all began, 10 years ago, in the month of February, 2009, when my mom made an exciting announcement: “Guess what, girls? We’re not going back to school!” I marveled at the announcement, because my mother’s sense of spontaneity always led us to new and exciting adventures. But little did I know of what this big present wrapped in gold ribbons held inside it. With the passing of a year, I would already encounter the burst of confetti, light, and candy that presented itself in an active network of social communities, the flexibility to travel globally throughout the year, and a wide variety of academic resources.
But as we sifted through the numerous options of curricula, we found Kolbe, the perfect match. We couldn’t say no to the opportunity of learning with a rigorous curriculum that provided a strong classical education.
So, fast-forward 5 years, and it’s orientation week at Kolbe Online Academy…online academy…what’s that? How does that work? Is that even a thing?
Going from private school to homeschool was already a leap. But homeschool to online homeschool? That sounded a little crazy.
However, once again, we were pleasantly surprised and impressed with how Mrs. Lengyel, Mr. Buyarski, and all the Kolbe staff and teachers formed, prepared, and wrapped up this online academy. Presenting a variety of courses to choose from and incredible teachers who are passionate about what they teach and truly live what they preach, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the material I was covering. And I’m sure you, my fellow students, felt the same.
I had the coolest class experiences, including Mr. Schultz’ fascinating, funny, blatantly blunt theology lectures, where he stated the truth with confidence, loads of evidence, complete certainty, and a wonderful sense of humor; Dr. Almanzar’s lively classes where learning Latin became as fun and exciting as entering a theme park; practicing Mr. Frey’s rap song on the Citric Acid Cycle for AP Biology in preparation for an exam; having heated class discussions on who was crazier, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao; and then learning that there is a positive correlation between knowledge of mathematics and understanding of God’s glorious handiwork in Mrs. Bjorgaard’s AP Calculus and AP Statistics courses. I can go on and on. But, I only have six minutes, so I’ll talk about something else now.
Looking back, though, I can see more clearly that behind this joyous burst of light, confetti, and candy, at the bottom of the box, in this present previously wrapped in golden ribbons, there is a brighter light, one that is both blinding and yet at the same time presents the real gift that the box was holding.
Now, there are many ways to describe the gift in the big box, because it is so beautiful and fulfilling that no one word can truly capture its significance. But today, I’m presenting this gift with a name that calls to and draws in the Youth of our world today: Answers.
In a world that praises relativism, there is, ironically, more hunger for truth than ever before. Hunger For truth. For solutions. For world peace. But None of that can be accomplished without answers. None of that can be accomplished without the recognition of common truths that belong to the whole world. Not just me or you. Not my truth. Not your truth. But THE truth. Answers…the world needs answers…it’s desperately searching for answers…Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? And it’s the answers to those questions that our generation needs to know. That’s the solution to all our problems.
And by the grace and benevolence of God, we can stand here today and say that we have found Answers. THE Answers. We know who we are. We know why we are here. And We know where we’re going.
Because of the priceless education we have received from Kolbe Academy, we have not only received THE answers, but also with it all the arguments and explanations and different points of view across all of history, human knowledge, and divine revelation that leads us to these answers. Through all the Kolbe courses we have taken—in history, literature, science, theology, and mathematics—by obtaining knowledge from all these subjects in the light of Truth, we have been to able to fit the puzzle pieces together on our own and see that these three questions can be answered with so much depth and clear evidence. that we can know with certainty that YES: We do have the answers to these questions and they make sense, they do.
So, Who am I: I’m a daughter of God. We are sons and daughters of God. We take it for granted, because that’s what we have been told our whole life, but that’s amazing! That’s incredible!
Why am I here (Why are we here): We are here to serve God and others…That’s a big pill to swallow at first…it’s a mouthful…But at a closer look, we can see that serving God and others is by definition, the happiest and the most fulfilling life. And I can say, with the experience of my long long long life (jokingly), I have found that it is true. Honestly, really honestly, I can say that the happiest moments of my life have been the moments where I forgot about myself and actually cared about the person standing across from me. “How do I make them happy?” “How do I love them?” “How do I bring them closer to God?” And what a gift it is to be able to know that!
Where am I going: simple, Heaven. I mean with the grace of God…that’s the plan…Doing everything for the greater glory of God. and that’s how we get to heaven.
These three answers reveal the great gift that was contained in the big present wrapped in ribbons of gold. Answers. These answers are so wonderful and consoling that they shoot out like a burst of light into the depths our hearts, opening our eyes to the Truths of Truths. We are sons and daughters of God called to serve God and others in order that we may obtain the everlasting bliss of Heaven. What a joyous mouthful.
So, what does this joyous mouthful tell us on a day like this, where we unite to celebrate the completion of this chapter of our lives?
Well, it tells us this: Life and everything in it is a gift, and with this gift, we have the responsibility to give it all away. So, when we set out into the world as young adults, we no longer ask “What can I get” but “how can I give”.
So as this chapter of our lives approaches its conclusion, and as a new one begins, let us remember to be unafraid. I recognize that this not only an exciting time but also a scary one. It’s new, and the world is often not the friendliest place. But it doesn’t matter, because we are here to give, right? Not receive. We have the holy spirit on our side, and our parents, and siblings, and homeschool friends, and strong Catholic education to support us.
So let us be unafraid. Unafraid to live a full life. Unafraid to dream big. Unafraid to love and serve not only those agree with our beliefs, but to love especially the people who don’t. That’s why we’re here. And we’re held accountable. For how we serve others. How we love those who are the hardest to love. Those who don’t have what we have. Those who we need to give the most to. Let us say the truth with confidence. Let us be unafraid to recognize that we’re weak. But with the grace of God, we are strong. We are powerful. We can change the world.
So as we embark on this new journey, let us bring with us the spirit of curiosity and passion for Truth that we have inherited from our experience in homeschooling, or rather, in life-schooling.
And let us take a moment to smile, because Christ, the answer to every big question, is with us always, and through him, we have our purpose, our joy, and our life.