Like many of you, over the summer, I watched the Olympic Games, and was moved by the stories of triumph and heartbreak. But one story in particular that resonated with me as I was thinking about the opening of our new school year, was a story that happened a few years ago.
Runners Abel Mutai from Kenya and Ivan Fernandez of Spain were approaching the finish line of a long distance race. Mutai was only a few meters from the finish line of a long distance race, but he got confused with the different signs and stopped, thinking he had finished the race. Fernandez was right behind him and realizing what was going on, started shouting at the Kenyan runner to keep running. Mutai did not know Spanish and so did not understand the shouting. So Fernandez then pushed Mutai to the finish line so Mutai could win the race.
Later, a reporter asked Fernandez “Why did you do this? Why didn’t you take the opportunity to win the race?” Fernandez replied, “My dream is that one day we can have some sort of community life where we push ourselves and also others to win.”
The reporter insisted “But why did you let the Kenyan win?”
Fernandez replied, “I didn’t let him win, he was going to win. The race was his.”
Again, the reporter insisted and asked again “But you could have won!”
Fernandez looked at him and replied, “But what would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of this medal? What would my mother think of it? The values are transmitted from generation to generation. What values do we teach our children and how much do you inspire others? Most of us take advantage of people’s weaknesses instead of helping to strengthen them.”
So I ask you, what is YOUR role as we look to help others finish their race?
How will you help to strengthen others, and lift them up to run the best race that they can.
What kind of community life are you helping us build?
As a community, we are stronger and more resilient, because this past year we all ran this challenging long- distance race together!
Now we can set our eyes forward, pushing each other toward a brighter future, helping each other through the confusing signs of life, helping our children, neighbors, loved ones to win their race.
That is why I kicked off the new school year, encouraging my staff to think outside the box, and try everything... for the sake and love of each and every one of our students.
This brings me to our annual PUSD Back to School music video: every year I pick a song that will inspire us for the new school year. This year's music video the song we picked is “Try Everything” by Shakira from the movie Zootopia.
The lyrics really reflected what we experienced during the past and current year. I want to share just a few lines from the song with you:
“Birds don't just fly, They fall down and get up, Nobody learns without getting it wrong...
I won't give up, no, I won't give in till I reach the end, and then I'll start again.
No, I won't leave, I want to try everything, I want to try, even though I could fail.”
To watch our 2021 music video, go to https://youtu.be/T4V879pC1NQ
Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together!” Everyone needs an Ivan Fernandez, pushing us through the confusing signs along the way, and helping us to finish our race!