Be Brave, Be Bold, and Be Ready - Jack Sullivan ('13) Inspirational Soaring On Speech

Jack Sullivan at Soaring On Ceremony
Jack Sullivan, alumnus (2013)



Do you know something? You and me … we are forever, awesomely connected. No matter where we go, we always have a common ground of hope, healing, and peace. The Schenck School is your “welcome home” no matter how far you go.

If you are going to a new school, or if you are returning to your old school, please remember, you have a place here. YOU BELONG! You are fantastic just are you are!

Now, I have a really important question for you … How many of you have seen the original Star Wars? Do you know the story? The main character is Luke Skywalker, and he is a Jedi Knight, but he didn’t know it. He was like a kid with dyslexia who has this super-power but hasn’t gone to The Schenck School to learn how to use this awesome gift.

Luke Skywalker had this amazing gift inside; he just needed to learn how to use the Force. He studied with Jedi masters, like Schenck School teachers, to learn all he needed to conquer life and the dark side. It was hard! He had to undergo adversity, study with strange creatures like Yoda, go through rigorous training, and discover how to get along with people.

Like Luke, ALL of you are Jedi warriors. You have unique powers, and you are growing stronger every day.

Like Luke, we ALL have to learn how to overcome pain, worry, and doubt to become a mighty Jedi.

There are wonderful things ahead. Every once in a while, you will have tough days. This happened to Luke when his friends got captured, his hand was cut off, and his greatest enemy turned out to be his dad. Don’t worry when hard times come; healing happens. It just takes time.

I’m sure some of you have had a day when so much is on your plate you feel overwhelmed. That happened to me last year when I was in the hospital with a hole in my back.

It was a big, deep cavernous hole caused by an M.R.S.A. infection. It nearly killed me. Doctors told me things like I would never play football again, and that the injury would impact me the rest of my life.

During a two-week stay in the hospital and ten months of recovery, I’ll admit there were times I felt hopeless - like Luke Skywalker, alone wondering about his destiny. But my parents gave me strength, my brother and sisters made me laugh, and friends brought me confidence and hope.

I had to train hard and go through immense physical therapy. I went through wound changes multiple times a day. But it wasn’t just me who got stronger on this journey, people around me did too, and we let each other in. My youngest sister, for example, dreams of being a surgeon. She was trained to do my wound care once a day - and, she did it!

My friends, you will face tough times. You will face a day when someone lets you down. You will, at some point, have a hole that needs healing. But you can marvelously heal. You are incredible warriors! We are Schenck School kids, and we have already overcome!  

Today begins a new journey! An exciting, scary, hard, and wonderful journey after The Schenck School. As you go forward, I want you to remember three things:

  • Be brave.
  • Be bold.
  • Be ready.

First, be brave. If you have a thought, an idea, or a vision of something you’ve always wanted to do, go for it! The biggest and hardest part of doing anything is taking the first step, and once you take that step, you’re already walking in the right direction to becoming a more confident and powerful person. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make the team, if you don’t get the part, or if the person you like turns you down! The more you try, the more comfortable and confident you become. It is okay to fall down. We all do. Get back up, and try again. Be brave. People admire and respect bravery!

Second - be bold. Be comfortable being yourself. Be proud of your dyslexia. You are going to see throughout your life that it is a wonderful gift.

Be bold in making friends. I met some of my best friends in high school because I walked up to them, and talked and listened. It’s always hard diving into a new pool, but you go boldly and take the initiative to find your friend group.

It’s hard to stand up to someone doing the wrong thing, and it’s even harder when that person is your friend, but if you stay true and don’t compromise who you are on the inside, people will respect you. If they are really your friends, they’ll understand. If may be scary to stand up. Do it anyway. Be bold in kindness, compassion, and empathy. You will find great people there.

Third - be ready. You don’t have to know your college major or choose your career in high school! Just enjoy and be ready for the discovery of who you are. The best way to be ready for life is to read. My dyslexic friends, do not let anyone intimate you and cause you to stop reading. If they are reading a thick chapter book, and yours is shorter and has pictures, just smile and keep reading! We live in an age where our generation relies heavily on social media for entertainment and knowledge. But the more we read and retain through works of great literature, the more intelligent, compassionate, and patient we become.

My Schenck School family, the world needs you. Be ready for your journey to be amazing, even in the hard. Friends, I congratulate you. I am proud of you. I am here for you.

Be brave. Be bold. Be ready. Soar on Schenck Phoenix! Soar on!


Jack Sullivan (‘13) is a senior in the international baccalaureate honors program at North Atlanta High School. He is captain of the debate team, a two-star varsity athlete, captain of the Georgia All-Star football team, leader anchor on the school news, and Atlanta Public School ambassador.  This fall, Jack will be a freshman at Wabash College where he will play football.