Susan Swartz’s graduation speech


JUNE 24, 2017

Good morning. Members of the Board of Education, Ms. Swain, Mr. Bednarek, Mr. Fyvie, Ms. Cioffi, members of Administrative Council, members of the Faculty, Honored Guests, Parents / Guardians, and Members of the Graduating Class of 2017:

I welcome all of you to the 109th Commencement of the Scotia-Glenville Senior High School. Today’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.

I would guess that throughout your school career, at least one, if not several, people have told you “Work hard and you can be anything you want to be”. Perhaps you thought you would be a teacher, or a fireman, a famous actor, the president, a musician, or a professional athlete. Maybe you dreamed you would leave home, travel and see the world. And I would tell you, with commitment and dedication, you can be anything you choose.

As I look at you this morning, the graduates of 2017, I wonder what your dreams are…what lives you have imagined for your selves. I look beyond to your siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends….gathered here with you today…..and wonder what dreams they hold in their hearts for you. 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….so many dreams…so much to imagine. That is what commencement is about….new beginnings.

I have wonderful, exuberant, boundless dreams for you. I look at you and see your intelligence, compassion, and energy….gifts that will take you to all kind of places, serve you through good and bad times, propel you to do more than you ever believed possible. 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. But there is one thing I would ask you to be….actually, it is the same thing I ask of myself and all those on stage with me today.

When I think about what I want you to be, the answer comes easily….I want each of you to be the best version of yourself. If you believe, as I do, that each of you can be whatever you choose, then I would ask you to start by choosing to be the best version of yourself…..not only when people are watching, but even when they aren’t.

Think about that for a moment. Now here’s an exercise you can begin to practice today and take with you. When faced with a situation, a question, a problem….really anything…ask yourself, what would the best version of me do now? You’re walking down a street and the person in front of you stumbles…what will you do? Laugh? Push on by? Offer a hand? What would the best version of your self do? In the answer to that question lies your future. Yes, I believe you can do anything you choose, I would implore you to start by being the best version of yourself.
Of course, I will worry about you. Will you look back at what you have accomplished here with pride? Will you continue to grow? Will you use your imagination to learn more, do more, and be more? If so, I will know we have been successful…even though I will still worry…. just a little bit.

This morning I ask you, members of the Class of 2017, to make a silent promise….to me, but more importantly, to yourself. Whatever your dreams are today…whatever you imagine your life will be ….start with the premise that each and every day, you will be the best version of yourself. Never stop dreaming, never stop growing, and never stop challenging yourselves. Live life fully and engaged in the world around you… and always, show the world the best version of yourself.

On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Scotia-Glenville School District, I wish for 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.

Thank you.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Mr. Peter Bednarek, Principal, for the recognition of the Class of 2017 medalists.

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