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Staley News

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Staley News

Assistant Principal Kevin Kooi’s 2024 Commencement Speech

15th Staley High School Faculty Commencement Speech
Izabella Berger
Assistant Principal Kevin Kooi delivers the 15th Staley High School Faculty Commencement Speech May 15, 2024.

After 29 years in public education, it has been an honor serving our district, especially Staley High School for the final leg of my journey.  I’m honored to have been chosen as the 15th Faculty Speaker and hope I can represent our staff tonight in a way that honors the hard-working men and women that make up our faculty.  To our staff, it has been an honor working alongside you for the betterment of our students and community the past 9-years.  I fully believe that the Point of the Mission that we strive for each day lies within the classroom and no person is more instrumental in the success of our students than the teacher leading our classrooms.  Teachers and administrators could not do their jobs effectively without the support of our many classified staff, including our cooks, custodians, instructional support, and our administrative assistants, especially my administrative assistant, Dena Carroll, who has had the distinct honor of putting up with me the past 8 years.  Tonight, I represent and honor you, our staff, and all the work you do.  I firmly believe we have the best staff and students in the State of Missouri.  I’m grateful for the time spent with each and every one of you.

Class of 2024, it truly takes everyone to help you get here tonight.  Please take a moment sometime in the next few days to thank your parents, family members and mentors who have supported you on your journey.  These folks are your biggest champion and will undoubtedly be there for you today, tomorrow and in the future.

If the past 29 years have taught me anything, it’s that our students need to feel connected to something greater, something with purpose and that being a member of a team or group provides an enriched experience.

People may not know this about me, but as a young child we lived in the Southwest part of the United States.  I was heavily influenced by Native American culture, art and the love of nature.  I was also influenced by the great NBA coach, Phil Jackson, who led the 90’s Chicago Bulls to 6 Championships.  His leadership was heavily influenced by the Lakota Tribe.  I learned that in Native American culture and through my study of Coach Jackson’s approach to Leadership, that the figurative shape of a circle has deep meaning.  The beauty of the circle symbolizes one’s quest to find harmony, connection, peace and purpose in life.  Class of 2024, the quest to find purpose consists of circles upon interconnected circles interacting with each other on a daily basis.

Class of 2024, think back to the many circles you were a part of during your time at Staley.  Was it a class circle where you talked about issues facing our community? Was it as a member of the soccer, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, wrestling, HOSA, Scholar Bowl, Pro-Start, FCCLA, ASU, BSU, LSU, MSA, dance, cheer, band, orchestra, NHS, Art, Step, WEC, Stuco, Nest or choir?  You see, your membership on these teams or groups provided circles of interconnected relationships and experiences that helped shape your connectedness and purpose to Staley HS and perhaps to the greater community.  Class of 2024, continue to take risks, push your teammates to be better people as you will be amongst a group of trusted peers.

Just think about the circle we are in tonight where we are celebrating your biggest achievement thus far.  There are over 5,000 people watching online and another 4,500 people in attendance tonight in this historical circular building, all here to celebrate you and your accomplishments!  The shared experiences you have had with your classmates, teachers, coaches and those in attendance tonight have provided an interconnected web that has helped shape the person you are and will become and has afforded you a lifetime of friendships.

It’s these experiences, interactions and conversations that have assisted in your sense of belonging to something bigger, something with a purpose beyond the classroom and will impact you for the foreseeable future.  The many interconnected circles you are a part of will come and go over the course of your lifetime, but Class of 2024, continue to seek your purpose, continue to be a teammate, continue to share experiences with others and bring your undeniable optimism to whatever it is you do.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the many staff, students, and parents the past 29 years who have been a part of my interconnected circle and who assisted in my development from a young teacher and coach to a veteran 29-year educator.  My belief in educating students was shaped by you.  For this, I say thank you.  I’ve been blessed beyond words and my purpose fulfilled.

To my personal circle and wife of 26 years, Laura, I love you and appreciate your undying confidence in me.  To our two kids, Kennedy-a 2019 Staley Grad and Keagan-a 2021 Staley Grad, thank you for keeping me grounded.  I miss our shared experiences we had at Staley, but they are permanently cemented in my memory.

Lastly, Class of 2024, thank you for giving this “Old Guy” one last year of great memories and for allowing me to be a part of your Circle.  It has been an honor serving you.

I don’t believe in Goodbyes, just See You Later as I know our paths will cross again.  So… as I conclude tonight, I say to #StaleyNation and the Class of 2024, See You Later.


Kevin Kooi, Assistant Principal-Staley HS, #StaleyStrong


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