My Message to the Class of 2017
Allison Brown, Superintendent of Schools
Members of the Board of Education, Dr. Andrews, Roslyn High School faculty and staff, parents, family members, and, most of all, graduates of the Class of 2017:
This is the first time that I have had the privilege of speaking at high school graduation as your superintendent, so you can well imagine that I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say today. Should I offer the customary words of inspiration, or reflect upon the passage of time? Should I get philosophical about what it means to move from one stage of life to another, or wax poetic about the journey into adulthood? Or should I just get sentimental about remembering so many of our graduates from when they were still in elementary school?
Honestly, except for getting sentimental, none of these is really my style. So what I decided to talk about today is how we put a value on the things that are most important to us. In a short while, we're going to hand out a very precious commodity – a high school diploma. We know that a diploma is very valuable because it's a stepping stone to higher education, and to a career that we hope will be meaningful and rewarding. But we also know that there's much more to a diploma than what it is worth to a university or in the job market.
Would high schools everywhere put on this beautiful ceremony every year – would we dress in our school colors and have a celebration – if all we were handing out were tickets to the next step in our students' lives? No, we value the diploma not only for the good fortune we hope it will bring in the future, but because of how much it signifies all by itself -- as a symbol of accomplishment; as a token of our affection for our children; and as an expression of our profound commitment to providing them with an education. We hold the diploma in such high esteem because education is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to the next generation.
The author Mandy Hale wrote, “"To make a difference in someone's life, you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect; you just have to care." Sometimes it’s hard for us to appreciate the things that others do for us at the time they are happening. The amount of caring, energy and expense that go into providing an education for our community’s children, and the sheer number of hours invested by parents and teachers in their schooling, is too much to calculate.
Today, as we mark this wonderful rite of passage, you, our graduates, can hardly be expected to comprehend the efforts that have been made on your behalf. Nor can you even fully understand the importance of your own generous acts: the impact of your community service, and the gestures of kindness you make all the time for your families, friends and classmates. It may be a years before you realize the effect that you had on Tuesday, when you started a new Roslyn tradition and visited the elementary schools for the first ever Senior Walk. The positive influence that you will have on the young children coming up behind you, not to mention the great joy you gave to your former teachers, are impossible to measure but very, very real.
Someday, when you have a firmer grasp of what is most valuable in your life, you will come to appreciate more and more the difference between the price of something and its true value. I hope that when you come upon your high school diploma in the years to come, you will remember not just this one special day, but the two thousand school days that came before, and the countless ways someone helped you on every one of those days. I hope you remember that your diploma was earned not only in test scores and reports cards, in trophies and certificates, but through the truly priceless value that all of us here today have placed on your well-being, happiness and success.
Congratulations and best wishes to the Roslyn High School Class of 2017.
Tilles Center, June 23, 2017
Contact the Superintendent of Schools:
Mail: Roslyn Public Schools
Roslyn, NY 11576
Photo: Superintendent Allison Brown with former East Hills School students
at the first ever Senior Walk on June 22, 2017.