Following are notes for my speech at the 2017 Tappan Zee High School Graduation Ceremony. Here’s wishing everyone a safe, restful, and productive summer break!
Trustees of the Board of Education, Principal Amos, colleagues, parents, friends and family, and especially our Tappan Zee High School Class of 2017, I am privileged to be your Superintendent and honored to speak to you. Above all, I wish to express a debt of thanks to the many family members and loved-ones who are joining us tonight – without your love and support, none of this would be possible.
Tonight we are here to celebrate an incredible milestone. Everyone in this audience, on this podium and throughout this supportive community is united, beaming and excited for these young men and women, the Class of 2017. (Note: This class is probably the most joyful, happy, and enthusiastic bunch of kids I have ever seen…don’t forget to acknowledge this).
Graduating seniors – you will be bringing your unique traits and talents into a global marketplace that is hungry for all that you have to offer. You are one of the initial cohorts of students who have had the opportunity to work and learn in a “Makerspace” where you are not only developing practical solutions using modern digital equipment but building concepts and ideas that address contemporary problems – to include the array of societal challenges that face us as a Nation. With this in mind, do not be misguided by concepts and ideas that are, at times, forged in a tempest of questionable veracity (e.g., mass media, the internet, reporting of facts, etc.) and a social media structure that would have you believe the world is flat. Rise above this “and never be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won” (USMA, Office of Chaplains – date and author unknown). Now more than ever, you must hold on fast to the ideals of careful scholarship that advances our free and just system of democracy. Trust your instincts, stay firm in your moral convictions, and be willing to thoughtfully analyze all sides of an argument from a perspective that is free of bias and hatred. That is what the world desperately needs from each of you right now, and I am confident that we have prepared you to do nothing less – you are ready!