A 6-year-old boy paid tribute to his late mother in his valedictorian graduation speech and brought the audience to tears. Jaxon Carter’s mother, Taryn Marie Gainey, died in an apartment fire last July.
Tragedy struck a few weeks before Jaxon started kindergarten at a new school, New Dawn Academy, a public STEM-focused charter school in Sterling Heights, Michigan. His father says the school was a last-minute find and a “lifesaver,” Good Morning America reported.
As school concluded this year, Jaxon’s teacher asked him to deliver a graduation speech.
“His teacher asked him if he could give a little speech,” Carter said. “The little speech turned into a full valedictory speech,” Justin Carter, his father, told the news outlet.
Jaxon worked on the speech with his grandmother, who didn’t let the father read or hear it before the ceremony. The 6-year-old delivered the speech from memory and went on for 4 minutes.
“When I started kindergarten at New Dawn Academy in August 2022, I was a little 5-year-old who had lost my beautiful mother a month before,” Jaxon said. “I learned to play with other kids, read books, answer or ask questions like how or why, use correct grammar, and use my school tablet.”
“My kindergarten year helped me grow braver, smarter, kind-hearted, and more grateful,” he added.
Jaxon thanked his teacher, who he described as a supportive ear with a “big heart.” He also thanked his grandparents and his father.
“You are the best daddy ever, and I love you so very much,” Jaxon said.
The boy ended the speech by dedicating it to his mother.
“I dedicate my speech, good grades, all school awards, and my kindergarten graduation to my beautiful mommy, who I will always love and miss so very much,” he said. “I know she will always be with me in my heart.”
Jaxon’s father told Good Morning America his son’s speech was “remarkable.”
“The expressions, the words, everything that he was saying, you could see that he meant every word of it,” he said.
Conrad R. Koch, the principal of New Dawn Academy, noted that Jaxon is a standout student who comes to school every day with a smile. He told the news outlet that he was “blown away” by the boy’s speech.
“I greet all the students in the morning, and I always had a ‘good morning’ from him or a high-five. He came to school with a good attitude, ready to learn,” Koch said. “Whether it was the spelling bee, learning how to read, learning how to write his name, whatever the challenge was, Jaxon was able to meet it.”