Read our Head of School's speech to the graduates: as you move on to your next chapter, remember that the turns you make are not just about your own movements, but the impact they can and will have on the world around you.
Faculty, Staff, Board of Trustees, Family Members, Friends, Alumni, and Graduates: I want to welcome everyone to graduation 2017.
8th graders - pop quiz - there are 250 seats set up right now in this room. How many empty seats do you see? I see what you see. A packed house, gathered here today, June 10, 2017, to celebrate each of you - your growth, your accomplishments, overcoming hurdles, building a sense of who you are and what you stand for, and developing each of the very characteristics, through success and struggle, that are the core fabric of your future adult self.
On behalf of myself and I am sure other Stevens staff, I will say that this graduating class has personally made us laugh, they've challenged us, at times they've worried us (but they are 8th graders), and they have demonstrated their ability to meet or exceed our hopes and expectations. To all of you wearing red today, you have done it; and have no doubt that you have earned the place in which you sit.
Pop quiz #2 for the 8th grade, because the first was too easy - how many turns do you have to make when you are walking from the front entrance of this building (if you are facing Morton Williams) to get to the blue doors of Garden Street? Should I make them actually answer? I mean, they haven't graduated yet and we could make this a requirement?
14 - 14 turns - at least the way I go. Now how would you know that? These aren't turns you think about, you just make them. Well I want to talk to you about some turns you are going to take or make and that I hope you will think critically about over the coming years. These phrases are concepts, big ideas that I encourage you to consider as you navigate through high school and college, relationships with others, in work, and in your overall lives. Because the turns you make are not just about your own movements, but the impact they can and will have on the world around you.
8th graders, one thing I also like to say at moments like this, is that taking risks is super important. As head of school, I think I have a responsibility to role model positive risk taking and what it means to challenge oneself in new ways. So right now for your listening pleasure, in dedication to you 29 8th graders and in succinct, rhyming poetic form, I offer you my insights on the turns you will make in life:
Take a turn in life,
Do not be complicit,
Don't sit on the sidelines,
Or the best you won't elicit.
Take a turn and be strong,
Be engaged here and now,
You can accomplish the amazing
I'm sure you know how.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Would give you this insight,
"The time is always right
to do what is right."
Turn it on, turn it off,
Know the power of self-control,
Understand the situation
And how you might play a role.
Having travelled with you far,
And having taught you in 7th grade,
Sometimes you just need to turn it down,
But don't let your spirit fade.
We the faculty have spent time developing
how and when you turn,
To pivot when the world needs you,
To adjust so you can learn.
But do not forget the turn I adore,
It's like beauty caught in a cup,
The ability for each of you to shine,
To personally turn it up.
Turn up the empathy,
be moral and kind,
You can turn it around,
when you are in a bind.
"if there is no struggle, there is no progress."
Frederick Douglass once said.
When life throws you a problem,
Turn the problem on its head.
Turn it up, and take a risk,
Challenge yourself to be bold,
Don't blame others, hold yourself accountable
Or you'll regret it when you are old.
Ask yourself, "How will others
one day remember me?"
Then go "float like a butterfly
and sting like a bee."
8th graders, we look to you
To continue to shine and grow,
You've made Stevens a very proud school
For the 68th year in a row.
Although you will graduate today
with diplomas as a rule,
yes you still have 3 more
fantastic days of school!
Enjoy it all, and know
you will be Stevens alumni soon,
But first we get to hear your best
From now.... until about noon.
You have listened to us for years,
But know our lives you have touched,
And I am in gratitude to this class,
So thank you very much.
And now we enter into my favorite part of graduation. As part of a Stevens tradition, each of our 8th graders will have the opportunity to speak and to share their reflections as they prepare to continue their journey beyond our purple doors (or blue, or silver). Each 8th grader is a unique, talented, and thoughtful individual, and now, it's time for each of you to take a turn and turn it up.