Remarks to the DFHS Graduating Class of 2015

The following remarks were made to the DFHS Class of 2015 at our commencement on June 20, 2015. The full graduation can be viewed by clicking on the following link: 

http://www.dfsd.org/site_res_view_folder.aspx?id=bb7619cb-22c0-46a6-89c0-13dc927db8e9

To the Board of Education, Superintendent Brady, Mr. Berry, Administration, Faculty members, Parents, Family members, Friends, Students, and Graduates: Good evening, and welcome to the Dobbs Ferry High School Commencement of 2015. Tonight we are saying congratulations and goodbye to the first graduating class that I had the privilege of watching grow, mature, and succeed for all four years at Dobbs Ferry School. It has truly been an honor to be your principal, and I’m so proud of all that you have accomplished as students and citizens. I know I speak for all our faculty and staff at the high school when I say, “congratulations graduates on a job well done!

Since the first day of your freshman year, the faculty of Dobbs Ferry High school has been committed to providing the tools necessary for your success beyond the walls of our school. Your education has challenged you to ask the right questions, and to never quit searching for better answers, to think globally and act locally, and to use creativity, communication and compassion to leave this world in better shape than you found it. In addition to the immeasurable efforts of your teachers, there have been a few others who are worthy of gratitude this evening for helping you along the way. It was those individuals who cheered for you from the sidelines to score that last minute goal, the people who made sure that you ate and got some sleep when you were cramming for exams, the ones who drove you to music lessons, and the ones staying up to make sure you get home safely on a Saturday night. Today, your great achievement is shared in equal measure by the joy, sacrifice, and love of your parents and families. As is tradition, I would like to ask all of you, our graduates, to please stand and give your parents and families a round of applause for the tireless sacrifice and support that they have given throughout your life.

I would also like to thank the wonderful administration and faculty of DFHS who are tireless in their efforts to inspire, encourage, and support all our students each and every day. The commitment and dedication of our staff is second to none, and we all take great personal pride in the accomplishments of each graduate who is sitting here today.

Each year, we welcome new staff members to our school and, in some years, sadly say good-bye to others who retire from our district after many years of dedicated service. This year, we say goodbye to Mr. Jim Lindsay, who will retire after a lifetime spent in the Dobbs Ferry School District. Coach Lindsay graduated from Dobbs Ferry High School in 1970 and still holds the school record in both the 100 meter high hurdle and the Sprint Medley Relay. Upon graduating from Cal State, Coach Lindsay came back to his roots in Dobbs Ferry. He has taught in the district for past 26 years while serving as our Athletic Director for the past 11. In addition to coaching Track and Cross Country for the past 33 years, and coaching varsity basketball for 16 years, he was a member of the football coaching staff for 30 years and was part of 8 state champion football teams. Coach Lindsay is a passionate educator and coach who touched the lives of so many students in Dobbs Ferry during his lifetime. As he often says, he bleeds blue and white, and he has created a legacy in Dobbs Ferry that will carry on for future generations. We thank Coach Lindsay for all of his service, and wish him the very best in the next phase of his life. Please join me in providing a round of applause to Coach Lindsay.

When I look around today I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I remember so clearly when we were introduced for the first time by Mr. Mussolini at your 8th grade Stepping Up Ceremony. You had the wide-eyed look of excited graduates, along with a nervous energy of what the next four years would hold…what it would be like to be a student at Dobbs Ferry High School. In many ways I had the same feelings of uncertainty. And as we walked the same halls for the first time, and continued to do so over the past four years, I have been honored to watch all of you grow from a group of wide eyed kids to a collection of truly wonderful and capable adults. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this class will always hold a special place for me, and not surprisingly this graduating class has helped to bring our school to new heights in so many areas, along with several Dobbs Ferry High School firsts…Sitting before us today,

  • We have 36 students who will receive a full IB Diploma, an all-time high for DFHS, with each student in the graduating class having taken an average of 3 IB courses at DFHS.
  • We have 13 science research students who won awards at WESEF, along with students who have placed in numerous competitions at the local, national, and even international level.
  • We have the third class of seniors who have taken the Blue Star Financial Literacy exam and have helped to give our school yet another Blue Star distinction, with four students receiving a gold star distinction, a first for our school.
  • We have the state champion in the track and field steeple chase, the first in our school’s history.
  • We have the first group of seniors who produced a yearbook through our new yearbook class and, as a result, we are now primed for many future awards and accolades.

And in addition to the many the firsts, this graduating class has also continued the long standing tradition of excellence to which we have grown accustomed at Dobbs Ferry High School. Sitting before us today, we also have…

  • 50 students who will be awarded an Advanced Regents Diploma by NYS.
  • We have IB Film students who continue to produce films that the capture the spirit, creativity, and history of our school and community.
  • We have actors and actresses who put on a rousing rendition of Little Shop of Horrorsin front of a packed house, and performers who earned area all-state distinction in chorus and orchestra.
  • And we have students who have participated in numerous fundraisers and community service projects, including volunteer work for the American Cancer Society, the NYS Hudson Valley Blood Drive, Pets Alive Animal Shelter, and of course our most recent penny wars fundraiser to raise money for research to cure Neuroblastoma.

And that of course this is only a small part of the story. The students in this year’s graduating class have truly left their mark on bettering the world around them due to the great work that they are doing in our Dobbs Ferry community.

As I sat down this afternoon to put the finishing touches on this address, I took a look at some of the old yearbooks from our school’s history. Coach Lindsay had every yearbook from 1941 to the present in his office, and they are now proudly showcased in the principal’s office of our high school. I invite you to come by to take a look so that you may get a sense of our school’s proud history. And as I looked through the pages of our many yearbooks, I was reminded that while the world has changed so much since the first class of students that graduated in Dobbs Ferry all the way back in 1857, what has remained consistent is that our school continues to produce proud graduates who have made a positive difference in the world throughout history. To all our graduates, you are now part of that proud history, and the great things that you go out and do will build upon a history and legacy of Dobbs Ferry graduates for future generations of students.

So what’s next? What are you going to do after this? Who do you want to be? As your journey takes you beyond the doors of our school and onto your future the answer to “what’s next” is totally up to you…but as for the “who do you want to be?”… I do have one simple piece of advice: when you leave here, don’t just find good people to ask advice of, instead be the person that others come to for good advice. When you go off onto your next steps, no matter where they may lead, be someone deemed trustworthy by your peers, take smart risks, be open-minded in all that you do and toward all that you meet…and above all, demonstrate kindness and humanity. The answers to those intimidating questions about what you want to do with your life will come. For some it will come quickly and for others it could take much longer, but the future title on your business card or LinkedIn profile is not a definer of success.  When you are a good person, a good friend, and a good daughter or son, you become someone others wish to know, a person with opinions that others value, and an individual who others will ask advice from…not because you get everything right, but because you endeavor to do what is right. That is a successful individual.

So when someone asks you “Who or What do you want to be?”…if your first thought is “a good person,” then I’d say you are making all the right choices. Don’t get me wrong…our world could definitely use some more doctors, researchers, actors, journalists, and even meteorologists, but above all, what this world needs is more good people. And I’m proud to say that when I look around today, I see a whole graduating class full of them, and am certain that this group of graduates will go out and add to the tradition of excellence that has been typical of so many Dobbs Ferry graduates for over a 150 years.

Thanks to each of you for an amazing four years. We had a great ride, and I will miss you dearly. Congratulations to all of you, the Dobbs Ferry High school class of 2015.


 

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