The annual “yearbook caption” is always a challenging writing assignment. I typically approach this task by identifying the theme of my final commencement address and then writing an abbreviated version for the yearbook. Space on the page is tight so it’s important to choose words thoughtfully.
This year’s theme of togetherness and unity is perhaps more pressing than ever. As the world seems to be even more divided following the presidential election, our students will now have a direct hand in creating a world that promotes peace, togetherness, and 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 to the challenge.
With that, here is the latest draft of my “caption” to the Class of 2017…
To the Graduating Class of 2017,
The year 2017 is a significant one for not only you, the members of our graduating class, but also the nation as a whole. The results of the presidential election in many ways challenged the very fabric of our nation. Though we witnessed a peaceful transfer of presidential power, a long-standing tradition that sets the United States apart from most other countries, our citizens struggled to remain united as so many gathered in protest at countless political marches and rallies.
Despite the division in our nation, the graduates of Dobbs Ferry High School set an example of how a diverse student body with different political views could join together to build togetherness and unity within a school community. As graduates, you have been prepared with an international education that is rooted in the IB Mission of creating a “better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” This mission is embedded into all aspects of our curriculum and has been at the heart of the education that you received. The urgency of this mission is now greater than ever, and it’s incumbent upon each of you to promote this message and to lead the next generation of global citizens in pursuit of world peace, harmony, and togetherness.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside you for 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 2017. While a great deal is being asked of you, always remember that you have an entire community that stands beside you and believes that you can lead the change that is needed to promote unity. We wish you all the very best.
John J. Falino, Ed.D.