Good evening. Members of the Board of Education, Ms. Swain, Mr. Bednarek, Mr. Fyvie, Ms. Nofri, members of Administrative Council, members of the Faculty, Honored Guests, Parents and Family Members, and the Graduating Class of 2021:
I welcome you to the 113th Commencement of the Scotia-Glenville Senior High School. Tonight’s ceremony is a culmination of many years effort on the part of our students and their families. To all of the audience members, I ask that you accord them the honor and respect they deserve throughout this ceremony.
Wednesday afternoon, students and staff gathered in the high school auditorium to practice for tonight’s graduation. And here we are…this evening…gathered together in the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Though I fervently wished and prayed we would be here, as I awoke this morning, I was afraid I had dreamt it. Like so many things since March of 2020, I worried about getting my, and your, hopes up and not being able to deliver. But here we are….together and celebrating this milestone in your lives.
Mr. Bednarek said something at one of our graduation ceremonies that has stayed with me since hearing it. Though tonight is all about you Class of 2021….it isn’t just about you…..that it is also about the people who are here today, participating in the program and watching as you cross the stage and receive your diploma. So today, I want to start by thanking some of those people. Given the challenges you, and they, have faced these past 14 months, it is especially important that we recognize them.
To your class advisor, Mrs. Sawyer, and all of the staff who helped us prepare for graduation…please accept my deepest gratitude. Your attention to every detail, to every student, makes this one of the most beautiful graduation ceremonies in the Capital Region. Tonight’s ceremony is made even sweeter because we are all together.
To my colleagues…your teachers and administrators, our Board of Education members…sitting with me, in the audience, or watching the event from home…thank you. I ask that you be the best version of yourself for our students every day and you do…even when it’s hard, even when it feels as though we take two steps forward and one step back, even through a pandemic and all of the “not-knowing”. Thank you to each of you.
And most importantly, thank you to all in attendance tonight. To the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends gathered to honor each of you, a special thank you. You gave us your most precious commodity…your child…..and worked with us to help them achieve today’s honor. As hard as each of them has worked, as many long days and nights as there may have been, as many arguments as might have been waged, it is through your perseverance and love that these young people have made it to graduation. I cannot possibly thank you enough for your contributions and commitment to your children.
Class of 2021… I have watched over the last 13 years as you have struggled, failed, struggled, and then met with success. I have watched your performance in the classroom, on the stage, in athletics, through school clubs and activities. I have watched, from a distance, your successes and struggles during the pandemic, school closure, school reopening, and less than perfect schedule you have navigated. I have, quite literally, watched you become the young women and men seated here today. I am awed by your talents and accomplishments….by your grit and resilience in the face of adversity, but even more so by the people you are becoming. As we honor you this evening, as our country emerges from COVID 19, as you prepare to leave us, I am grateful for this new beginning for each of you.
I wonder what your dreams are…what lives you have imagined for yourselves. Yes, there is much behind you…..13 years of classes, homework, friendships, fights, sadness and joy….but even with all of that, there is so much more in front of you.
I look at you and see your intelligence, compassion, energy and spirit…gifts that will take you to all kinds of places, serve you through good and bad times, and propel you onward even as you leave this chapter of your lives behind. I look at you and imagine the future….a future made better by the contributions you will make, by the ideas you will discover, by the kindness you will show others. The future I imagine, the one you will shape, awaits you.
Of course, I will worry about you, wonder where you are, and what you are doing…the life you are creating. I will wonder if we have prepared you well enough, if we have let you fail so that we might applaud as you struggled and succeeded…as you learned from your mistakes. In the words of the poet Maya Angelou “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Do not fear failure…go out, learn, make mistakes and try again. I know and believe, you will do incredible things in your lives.
On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Scotia-Glenville Central School District, I wish each of you the joy of a life well lived the respect of your fellow human beings, and the love of family and friends. Please accept my congratulations and best wishes to each of you on this wonderful occasion.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Mr. Peter Bednarek, Principal, for the recognition of the Class of 2021 medalists.