To the Graduating Class of 2021,
During his 1963 radio and television address on civil rights, President John F. Kennedy reflected upon his hope for peace, unity, and equality in the midst of violence and rising tensions in our nation: “I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Nearly sixty years later, JFK’s words still hold true, and they in ways capture the essence of all that we value as an IB World School.
The COVID-19 pandemic that was unexpectedly thrust upon you during the latter part of your junior year is something that will be studied and talked about for years to come. This period resulted in unspeakable loss for so many, including family members, friends, and renowned figures from around the world. For all of you, there was added loss as both junior and senior experiences, memories, and moments that are too often taken for granted were suddenly erased before they ever had a chance to happen.
Despite the loss, however, we saw people from every race, ethnicity, and culture come together as one to rally behind a common cause. We witnessed the true human spirit in full force, as workers on the frontlines risked their lives daily to help others, and as all citizens of the world played a role to help “flatten the curve” and then to ultimately get vaccinated. Amidst tragedy, we found love, we found connection, and we found selflessness. We also found hope, as Americans from across the nation came together in protest as we continue to strive for true equality. Although we still have much more work to do, our citizens continue to stand up against discrimination and bias and recognize that the “rights of every many are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” As graduates of an IB World School, it is incumbent upon all of you to lead this necessary change and to be true pioneers in the creation of a “better and more peaceful world.”
The legacy of this graduating class will be remembered for generations like none before, and it has been an honor to serve as your Principal during this unprecedented time. I wish you all the best for a life that is filled with health, happiness, love, unity, and peace.
John J. Falino, Ed.D.