Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Superintendent's Message to the Class of 2017

Good afternoon! I would like to welcome all of our parents, grandparents, and other distinguished guests to Hudson. Today we celebrate an important milestone in the lives of these students sitting in front of me who make up the Hudson High School Class of 2017. Our time with these young people draws to a close today; and the finality of today’s ceremony brings with it a range of emotions.

Seniors listen with anticipation at receiving diplomas.
(Photo by Retrospect)
We have watched you very closely over the course of your journey as students at Hudson. In fact, you may be among the most observed of our classes. Because of this, those assembled here today know you all quite well. Each step of your educational journey in this school has been carefully planned and orchestrated. When you were in 6th grade we began preparing for your arrival in the high school. We pondered such questions as what classes were we going to offer and who would teach them? How many sections of English and Math would we need? Everything was considered in an effort to answer the simple question: how could we make sure this class received our very best efforts? Our continual attention to this task obligated us to adjust our strategy in an effort to make sure you each got the very best education. So it is within that context, that today, it is my honor of delivering to you, your final lesson as a student at Hudson High School.

Yes, this Class of 2017 is not one of our larger classes. But certainly the size of your class doesn't in any way diminish the magnitude of your accomplishments! For starters, we reiterate the obvious. Although small in numbers, the impact you have made on our school has been mighty. The benchmarks you have set and the accomplishments you have achieved have created memories and aspirations that your contemporaries will reach for in years to come. Now as you go out into the world and those experiences fade into cherished memories, my hope is that what you are most remembered for during your time as a student here is your strength of character. Because at the end of the day, we may not remember if you won the game, but we will remember how you made us feel, and that might be the most important lesson you learn as you leave here today.

I recently read a New York Times column by Rebecca Sabky who is an admissions counselor for Dartmouth College. In this column, she describes how in her visits to high schools she is inundated with students who are seeking admission into this prestigious institution and how students fight for her attention while trying to get her to take their resume. She describes how students will sometimes follow her to her car in an effort to just get a little more exposure. Indeed, competition into this Ivy League school is fierce and admission is coveted. Each year, Rebecca reads some 2,000 applications from all around the world seeking to gain admission to the prominent institution. Many of them are indistinguishable from one another. They all contain the same gratuitous letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, and principals. All at the top of their class. All model students with unblemished records of discipline. All involved in sports, music, drama, and art. All.....the same.

Except, there was one very distinguishable letter of recommendation for a particular student. This letter was authored by one of the school custodians. In this recommendation, the custodian described a student who went out of his way to thank the janitors for their work. Who went out of his way to make sure that lights were turned off, and who 'tidied up' after classmates when no one was watching. This letter described the student as the only person who knew the name of every janitor in the school. The student was ultimately admitted to the school by a unanimous vote of the admissions committee. Indeed the lessons here are many. The power of the pen? The voice of the unheard? The strength of character? The ability to make yourself stand out from a crowd?

Celebrating a milestone.
(Photo by Retrospect)
There is no doubt that there are some wickedly smart people sitting in front of me right now. I am even quite sure some of you have tremendous technical skills that will land you a great paying job or internship just a few weeks from now. But here is the deal: although you may be the smartest, most intellectual, or skilled person in your chosen field, if you aren't kind, compassionate, and pleasant to be around, this success will be short lived. We have taught you the skills needed to enter the workforce or be a successful college student. But the rest of it? It comes from the heart. 

The fact is that today one chapter of your lives closes and another opens. From this day forward you will be asked to stand on your own two feet and take responsibility for your actions. 

Now, as your superintendent, I am typically not as involved in your daily affairs as others. In most cases, our paths don't cross as frequently as they do with your teachers or principal. In the traditional paradigm, if our paths were to cross it was not for something very pleasant. But lucky for me, that standard does not exist within these halls. Because I do know you, and I know that, while incredibly bright, you also have heart. I know what you are capable of, and we will be quite proud in a few moments to call you alumni of Hudson Schools. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be generous.


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