City Academy 2018 Graduation Alumnus Speech | Kendall McLemore ’12 (Priory ’18)

Today I want to talk briefly about mottos or, as some people call them, mantras. A motto is a short sentence or phrase chosen to encapsulate the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution. At each point in my life I had a different motto that pushed me through. After watching Finding Nemo, my motto was “just keep swimming.” I stuck with it throughout my career at City Academy. I just kept moving and telling myself there is a pot of gold at the end of this journey…I know I’m moving towards something great. And I’ll tell you, City Academy sets you up for something great. Everyone who graduates from here moves on to impact their school and the world around them.

I graduated from City Academy in 2012 and went on to another great school, Saint Louis Priory. My motto then was “plan, execution, and patience.” City Academy prepared me for Priory by teaching strong study habits and organizational skills.  I learned early on in secondary school to get the easy homework done at school and manage your time wisely so that you have more time to do things you love. I planned ahead and I executed that plan. But most importantly, I had patience. I had six years at Priory. It was going to be a long ride.

President Don Danforth with Kendall McLemore ’12 (Priory ’18)

Finding Success at Priory

In eighth grade I started medieval calligraphy.  I worked so hard my freshman year that I was initiated in to the Guild. The Guild is a medieval arts club at Priory where we make stained glass windows, write calligraphy, and practice other medieval arts. I was initiated into the oldest club at Priory as a freshman. Many don’t become initiated until their junior year. Then I was immediately put on the council to run the guild. I wasn’t president, but that wasn’t far along.

I planned the route to becoming president of the club by showing up to every event, working on every major project, and making my name known in the guild. My time came during my junior year. About halfway through the year, our President stopped showing up for a month. Frustrated, the club members and the club administrator moved me into this leadership role. At the end of the year, I was unanimously voted in as President. “Plan, practice, execution.” This plan prepared me for my success, not only in the Guild, but in my academic pursuits.

Plans for the future

As I plan for my future, I know the United States Navy is my next step, for a couple of reasons. Joining the Navy means that I will be able to travel the world, helping others and setting the foundation for my career after I leave the Navy. As a benefit of serving, any college I attend will be fully funded.  My motto has changed once again. Now, my motto is the Navy’s motto: “Honor, courage and commitment.”

Everything that City Academy and Priory has taught me will help me thrive in the Navy. My motto helps me be the best by doing my best, in everything I do. And by taking pride in who I am, I know my faith will see me through. I must have respect and confidence if I am to be a healthy body, a productive mind and a wise human being.

Congratulations Class of 2018 and welcome to your new alumni family!

City Academy Alumni at 2018 Graduation Ceremony

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One comment on “Graduation Ceremony 2018 | Alumnus Reflection”

  1. 1
    Hilda Willman on July 6, 2018

    Kendall is a wonderful young man! I have known him since before he was born as his lovely mother, Renea, was one of my children’s kindergarten teachers. I got to know him better during his 6 years at Priory, as I work there, and as he is a classmate of my youngest son. Kendall is a wonderful writer and artist and will go far in the Navy and beyond. How fortunate your 2018 graduates were to hear from this inspiring young man and role model. Best wishes to all of them! We hope to see more City Academy graduates in years to come as Saint Louis Priory School students.

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