Editor’s note: This is Lower School Principal Angie Crabtree’s 2021 Continuation speech, delivered on June 1, 2021, to the Colorado Academy Fifth Grade class.
Chances are you have seen a Robby Novak video. You most likely know him as the Kid President, with a big laugh and a tendency to begin spontaneously dancing. As a nine-year-old elementary student, he created a series of motivational videos with his older brother-in-law. The videos went viral, and Robby expanded his desire to make the world a more awesome place.
As his alter ego, the Kid President, Robby addresses the masses from his tiny “oval office,” spreading the word that life should be a party, people should be more awesome, and everyone should “treat everybody like it’s their birthday.” He wears a really snazzy suit and a red tie. He dances better than most adults, and his seemingly boundless enthusiasm is contagious.
Robby became Kid President when his brother-in-law—videographer Brad Montague—decided that people should spend more time listening to what kids have to say. They started making their signature motivational videos, working together on each episode without any fancy film crews or staff. It didn’t take long to realize that a little kid wisdom was exactly what the world wanted and needed. The Kid President’s breakout video in 2012, “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You,” currently has over 46 million views on YouTube.
In that particular video, Robby (as the Kid President) gives a rousing pep talk that is hilarious and heartwarming. He reminds us all that life is short, so short that we shouldn’t waste time being boring or unkind, or ignoring the call to make the world awesome. “Boring is easy,” he tells the viewer. “Everybody can be boring. But you’re gooder than that.” He dances, quotes both Journey and Robert Frost, and in perhaps the most charmingly memorable part of the video, he asks, “What if Michael Jordan had quit?….He wouldn’t have made Space Jam.
Kid President also happens to have a rare brittle bone disease which has caused him to have over 70 bone breaks since birth. While this is a part of Robby’s life, he and his brother-in-law chose not to make it the focus of their videos, deciding instead to focus on Robby’s natural humor, penchant for dancing, and ability to give a really good pep talk. What’s inspiring about Robby isn’t his condition, but the fact that his condition doesn’t define who he is. Despite all he has been through, he not only keeps going—he keeps inspiring so many! Robby is now 17 years old, and he has launched a new video series. He and his brother-in-law travel around in a minivan, finding stories about kids who are making the world more awesome.
During our April Town Meeting, we watched the Kid President video message about “How to Change the World,” where Robby offered his advice for impacting the world, no matter your age or position. Shortly after our Town Meeting, I asked each of you to share your ideas and insight about changing the world. There were so many common themes that you conveyed as a collective group that contained messages that are truly powerful and need to be said.
Your words of advice for the world
Today, I will share some of YOUR words of advice for the world:
- A change doesn’t have to be big. It could be as simple as making bookmarks of kindness to place in random books or placing signs in various locations to raise awareness and make people think about specific issues happening around them!
- Stand up for what you believe…be brave in what you say! Don’t let others impact your voice when you feel strong about a cause in your heart!
- Don’t get mad at people for their mistakes—take the time to educate them and share perspective. Be patient with them. Change takes some time, and someone may be on a different timeline than you.
- Listen to people around you—everyone has something to teach us. It might be good or bad, but we learn something from every situation.
- Get out there! There’s so much to do—for people, animals, pollution, hunger, homelessness, climate change, social justice—find what makes you want to use your voice!
- Smile at someone. It is contagious, and it is a small way to tell someone you care. Caring for someone can create change. Just try it!
- Be your BEST self. It’s not that hard. Each day is a chance for YOU to be the best person YOU can be.
As you begin your summer and consider your Sixth Grade year, I ask you to closely consider that final statement. As your BEST self…
What words and actions will you show to other people?
What questions will you ask?
What choices will you make?
Will you follow the crowd or think for yourself?
How will you impact the world?
Our theme song for this year has been “Brotherhood and Sisterhood,” composed by Peter Amidon. These words have been a guide for us throughout this year, and I share those words with you one more time today:
Some are tall and some are small and some are wide or thin,
And there is great variety in the color of our skin.
Some of us were born right here, and some born far away,
We call this gift diversity and this is why we say:
Brotherhood and sisterhood doesn’t mean we are all the same;
It means we all have equal rights, now just let me explain:
It means we love the differences and I’m so glad you came.
To the Class of 2028, you are champions for goodness, inclusivity, and peace.
Please take your quest for change into the world this summer and continue your journey of kindness and care for others. I wish you the very best and look forward to hearing about your future accomplishments. Happy summer!