Accomplished graduates of the Class of 2016, School Board President Mr. Frankenfield, board members, Principal Morningstar, Principal Muschlitz, our outstanding staff of teachers, administrators and support staff…all the dedicated and supportive family, friends and guests —
It is a pleasure to welcome you this evening and congratulate each and every one of our graduates on this once in a lifetime achievement – graduation from high school.
How accomplished is this group? We have…
- 151 graduates
- 3 National Merit Scholar Commended Students
- 4 graduates from VAST – our virtual school
- 22 students graduating from LCTI – our career and technical education programs including CAP, Academic Center, the Emerging Health Professionals Program and DCO
- 129 students are pursuing higher education
- 2 are pursuing military service
- 17 are entering the workforce
- 3 are Freddy Award winners – the first in over a decade
- 1 is a Track & Field State Champion; And…
- All totaled, the Class of 2016 has been offered 1.7 million dollars in scholarship money
Perhaps most striking about this group, however, is its focus on doing good for others. Members of the Class of 2016 have contributed their time, energy and imaginations to the planning and implementation of many altruistic projects some of whom include
- Max Kucsan and Ethan Hassick who built a free lending library from scratch
- Eric Dye who raised funds for Shriner’s Children’s Hospital through the collection of can tabs
- Matt Fainor who worked with students from other schools to organize the Linny’s Kid’s Scholarship Fund to benefit students at the Baum School of Art
- Olivia King who was has been involved in successfully organizing the high school blood drive.
- Antonio Alvarado who initiated a squash club for students at the Allentown JCC
- Jordan Kamp who helped to run two “Hello-Goodbye” soccer games for students, raising funds for Ronald McDonald House
- Abby Garrigan, Carolyn Boulay and members of the theatre company who ran Broadway Night, raising funds for pediatric cancer
- Dane Galbraith who created the “Someday I Want to..” wall in the east wing
- Sophie Neisenbaum who created the Enviro Club and initiated the recycling program
- And many others who worked on projects and served as Best Buddies throughout their high school years!
Congratulations on this long-awaited day. You’ve been through 13 grades, at least 3 or 4 times as many teachers, teacher lectures, quizzes, projects, grades, academic competitions such as History Day, PJAS and SkillsUSA; a digital transformation, your fair share of standardized testing, friendships come, friendships gone, school dances and proms, school lunches, athletic events, theatre productions, music performances, talent shows, and I could go on and on… It is my hope that you are leaving us today with a portfolio of memories and habits of mind that will prepare you to pursue your passions and take on the challenges of this restless world through whatever path you choose – work, military service or college. I join your teachers, administrators, school board members and families in knowing that you are well prepared for the successes and challenges that lie ahead.
For the next few minutes, I invite and challenge you to think. And I invite our families and guests to think along with us. Think about PURPOSE… More specifically, I ask the questions…..What is your purpose? What will it be once you walk through that doorway in an hour or so? Think about it…because knowing it deeply is one of the undisputed keys to success and happiness in life.
What is purpose, and why is it important?
In a 2015 often-cited Gallup poll, an astounding 68% of us adults are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in our work. I ask…. Why is this? Author and speaker Daniel Pink suggests in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, there are three vital elements to creating work satisfaction:
- Autonomy – that sense of personal choice
- Mastery – the idea that hard work leads to us getting better at something – something that matters to us
- And Purpose – we are focused on something greater than ourselves.
Focused on something greater than ourselves. What are you doing now, what will you do that will define who you are in life? What will animate you? What will feed your self-worth? What will inform your actions? What will help you decide where and how you allocate your time, energy and resources? What will make it worth getting out of bed in the morning?
With us here tonight is a group of individuals who have worked tirelessly to model “purpose” throughout your educational journey – your teachers and my friends in education. To be a teacher is a calling with a special purpose. We hear this in quotes from people like
- Albert Einstein who once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
- Actress and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey said, “For every one of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out. The light doesn’t always necessarily have to be in your family; for me it was teachers and school.”
- And from the infamous Anonymous “I’m changing the world one day at a time. I teach.”
Educators. We have a noble purpose. To create and mold the future in collaboration with parents and families. In your teachers you have a model for this – a model to create a life of your own purpose.
Some of you may have always known your purpose: through instinct, family influence or being unrelenting in following your passions. Others may be wondering how on earth you will ever find your purpose. You may even be feeling confused! That’s OK… we must remember and respect that we are all unique individuals – purpose comes to each of us in different ways.
Let me share three bits of wisdom – three questions to help you find your purpose as you begin this next phase of your life. Ask yourself:
- What interests me? What do I love doing? Steve Jobs once said in another graduation speech, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” Think about what you already enjoy doing, that which makes you happy. As you move along your life and career path, figure out how to weave into that work what brings you joy. Doing so will bring your purpose into clearer focus.
- How can I serve others? Ghandi once wrote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” We each have a responsibility to make the world a better place. Think about a problem you’d like to solve – some way to make the world – your world – a better place for yourself, your family and others.
- What can I do? Don’t just think about your purpose, take a mental note from Nike and Just do it! The more you do, and reflect on the work, the more in-focus your purpose will become. The path to purpose will be a journey of doing with peaks and valleys. Clarity of purpose will come from experiencing and exploring those peaks and valleys.
So I call you to action: After today’s ceremony with all its celebration and congratulations, take a few moments to connect with your family members and teachers – in real face-to-face time, and talk about purpose. Where are you? Where are you going on your journey? Where are they? Where have they been? And what are you most excited about, and even a little scared? I challenge everyone – graduates, families and friends, to share your purpose – or something related to your purpose journey – on social media – Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat – whatever you’d like – using our school district hashtag #stsdfalcons. Put it out there! Commit! You’ll even see mine which I just tweeted out….
Congratulations Salisbury High School Class of 2016! I have unwavering confidence that you will make us Falcon Proud as you discover your life purpose and change our world for the better. The perfect day is going to bed with a dream and waking up with a purpose. May you soon find that perfect day.
On behalf of the school board, administration and your teachers, I wish each of you the very best as you begin this exciting journey.
What is your purpose?
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