The annual “yearbook caption” is always my toughest writing assignment because it’s impossible to sum up four years in only a few lines. Given that, I typically approach this task as one final lesson or “sendoff” for the graduates. I approach my final commencement address in much the same way. This year’s theme of civic responsibility is perhaps more pressing than ever. As the world seems to become more divided with each passing day, our students will have an opportunity to vote in their first presidential election and will now have a direct hand in creating what we hope will be a better tomorrow. This will not only require creative solutions to complex problems, but also putting political affiliations aside so that we can attack each of these problems in a united way. There’s a great deal of work to be done, and I have no doubt that our graduates are up for the challenge.
With that, here is the latest draft of my “caption” to the Class of 2016…
To the Graduating Class of 2016,
When writing my remarks each year to the graduating class, it is typical practice to look for a past quote from a great thinker who might offer some insight into a deeper truth that can best capture both our current experiences along with our hopes and dreams. Unlike most years, however, there is a greater sense of urgency and the current state of the world does not allow us to reflect solely upon the past. Instead, we must continue to learn from the past so that we may strive for both a better tomorrow and, if possible, that next great quote.
The year 2016 is a significant one for not only you, the members of our graduating class, but also the nation as a whole. As graduates, you will be faced with choices that will impact the future course of your life both personally and professionally. As Americans, you will vote in your first major election and will help to elect a president who will directly impact the future direction of both our country and the world. As you make these important decisions, it is critical that you consider how the choices that you make today will impact you both now and in the future. The stakes are high. I know that you are ready.
As graduates of Dobbs Ferry High School, you have been prepared with an international education that in many ways makes you even more ready than your contemporaries with regard to making these tough decisions. The IB Mission of creating a “better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” is embedded into all aspects of our curriculum and has been at the heart of the education that you have received. As graduates, you possess the necessary foundation to lead the next generation of global citizens as we strive for world peace, harmony, and togetherness. The challenge is there if you wish to accept it. It’s up to you.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside you over the past four years and I’m looking forward to seeing the many great accomplishments that will come from the members of the Class of 2016. Your community stands with you and believes that each of you is capable of achieving anything that you set your mind to. Now go out and make us proud.
John J. Falino, Ed.D.