Remarks Made at the DFHS 113th Commencement (6/21/14)

To the Board of Education, Superintendent Brady, Mr. Berry, Administration, Faculty members, Parents, Family members, Friends, Students, and Graduates:

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Dobbs Ferry High School Commencement of 2014. To our graduates, I would like to congratulate you on this great achievement, and would like to thank you for the hard work and commitment to excellence that each of you has demonstrated over the past four years.

I would also like to take a moment to thank our truly incredible staff. It is through the inspiration, encouragement, and support of our wonderful teachers that our students have met and exceeded the requirements for graduation today.

If has become a tradition at our graduations for our students to thank those who at the very heart of their achievement. Graduates, your parents have signed your permission slips, bought your cleats and backpacks, helped you with your homework, picked you up from school and brought you back again when you forgot your homework, taken your picture at a countless number of school functions, and cheered your name from the sidelines. From that first nervous day of kindergarten to that last bell of your senior year only a few weeks ago, your parents and families have been there through it all…supporting and encouraging you to succeed. So if I could, I will ask all of you, our graduates, to please rise and thank your parents and families by giving them big round of applause. They certainly deserve it!

This year, we celebrate the 113th commencement of Dobbs Ferry High School. One hundred and thirteen groups of Dobbs Ferry graduates have sat just as you are now, proud of their accomplishments and eager with concern for their futures. One hundred and thirteen years ago it was 1901. Teddy Roosevelt was our President. Walt Disney was born. The Stock Market crashed for the first time, causing the Panic of 1901. Six British colonies were united and named Australia.The American League, still 12 years away from seeing the first pitch by the newly named NY Yankees, officially joined Major League Baseball. Paul Fix, the actor known in part for playing the judge in the film To Kill a Mockingbird, was born right here in Dobbs Ferry, NY. And the first class of students from the prestigious Dobbs Ferry High School prepared to graduate in the school’s first commencement ceremony. That was 1901. Over the past 113 years, the future has pushed forward as it must. But no matter the president, the technological trend, or year, there is something honest and remarkable in the hearts and minds of high school graduates. That something is boundless hope.

Over the past 113 years, each senior class at Dobbs Ferry High School has taken on a certain personality while leaving behind a legacy for future generations of Dobbs Ferry students. In thinking of the class of 2014, words such as scholarship, togetherness, friendship, athleticism, tenacity, citizenship and pride quickly come to mind. This year’s graduates are an exceptional collection of students, and will be greatly missed by all of us at the high school. Sitting before us today….

  • We have 22 students who will receive a full IB Diploma, with each student having taken an average of 3 IB courses at DFHS.
  • We have 57 students who will be awarded an Advanced Regents Diploma by NYS.
  • We have 10 students who received the President’s Award for Academic Excellence and 16 who received the President’s Award for Academic Achievement.
  • We have seven science research students who competed and placed in numerous competitions, with three having received the Acorda Scientific Excellence award.
  • And we have the second class of seniors who have taken the Blue Star Financial Literacy exam and have helped to give our school a Blue Star distinction for the second year in a row.

With regard to academics, the list goes on and on. But it’s not only about academics….Sitting before us today…

  • We have IB Film students who not only produced films that will be shown at our school for years to come, but also produced a film that earned a “Chester” award for our school.
  • We have students who joined together to redesign our annual Mac Field Day in a way that would have made a beloved figure in our school’s history both honored and proud.
  • We have athletes who continue to draw attention and turn heads across the state. Included in that are three all-state athletes, two US Marine Corp distinguished athletes, two army reserve national scholar athletes, and of course the sectional champs in girls volleyball.
  • We have an up and coming comedian, whose online YouTube channel has received thousands of views both nationally and internationally.
  • We have actors and actresses who put on a rousing rendition of The Pajama Game in front of a packed house, and performers who earned both conference and area all-state distinction in chorus.
  • We also have 31 seniors who astounded us with the art  that they created for our annual IB Art show, and students who continue to show us the wonders of the creative process through their participation in Destination Imagination.

Without question, our students excel in all areas and in all corners…and have continued the tradition of excellence that was started by that first group of DFHS graduates 113 years ago. But while we embrace our proud history and our storied past, it is also important for us to focus on the present. So as you prepare to transition from your life as a high school student in your hometown and move in the direction of your dreams, the loudest question that is probably in your mind is what’s next?

During your four-year tenure as students at Dobbs Ferry High School, the faculty and administration have worked tirelessly to offer programs that have challenged, encouraged, and prepared you for life after high school, wherever your individual roads may lead. But you have done the work. You have bravely applied your knowledge, looked for adventure in the hidden corners of books, and challenged the boundaries of learning from the use of apps to social media, film and beyond. When it comes to graduation and life thereafter, knowing what’s next becomes more difficult to discern, the risks are often far greater, and the safe bets are sometimes few and far between. But may I be the first of many to say it’s all worth it. From the sleepless nights spent studying for exams, to the job interviews whether successful or not, and the connections and friendships made along the way…every step along your journey to personal fulfillment and achievement is absolutely worth it.

A few moments ago I mentioned the idea boundless hope. That is what truly connects us across time, one graduating class to the next, one generation after another. While we are lucky to be standing here with our feet firmly planted in 2014 with our iphones in our pockets, boundless hope is the inherited gift passed down from each generation, and is perhaps the greatest gift we have to offer. But today it is your turn to harness that hope, to work hard in the pursuit of progress, to strive for personal excellence, and when the time comes, to pass on that hope to your own children when it is their turn, just as your parents do for you today. But for now, graduates of the Dobbs Ferry class of 2014, it is your time and it is your turn!

I wish you all the brightest futures, the greatest successes, the safest journeys, and the happiest of lives. It has been an honor to be your Principal for the past three years and I hope you will return back “home” to the high school many times to say hello and to let us congratulate you on all the successes you’ll have in the next stage of your life.

Congratulations to the Dobbs Ferry Class of 2014!


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