CLASS OF 2018 COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES
Dr. John Stimmel, Sayville School District Superintendent
To The Class of 2018
To the parents, grandparents, special guests, Board of Education, teachers, staff, alumni, and – most of all – to the Sayville Graduating Class of 2018--- I say it is an honor and privilege for me to share this joyous occasion with you. Many of you I know personally, all of you I know by reputation. It is a reputation to be proud of.
Today I stand before you with a song that is playing in my head and in my heart. Had I the skill and talent I would sing this song to honor your commencement ---and it would be epic. Instead I must do my best to describe it to you.
The start of my song would be in the style of a rock and roll ballad the kind that the Boss Bruce Springsteen might compose. This intro is dedicated to your parents. Just starting out your parents fell in love and just about 20 years ago started a young family in a town that they felt was worthy of being called your home town. They knew joy and heartache, thrill and sacrifice. Somewhere along the way Thunder Road slipped into Cherry Avenue and a supped up Chevrolet gave way to a 7 passenger Dodge minivan. Although your parents’ lives have changed over time, this much I can tell you, of all the experiences that life has presented to your parents, the pride and joy that they experience today knows no limits. On a day when we gather to celebrate your accomplishments as the Sayville graduating Class of 2018, remember that today is truly one of your parents’ Glory Days.
To the grandparents, extended family, teachers, staff, alumni, and Sayville Community at large the lyrics I would sing for you today have a country flair in the style of Lee Greenwood or Alan Jackson. These lyrics are meant to stir your heart with pride; pride in our nation, our town and most of all pride in our seniors who sit before you. Sayville is a rare and special place. Steeped in family and tradition, our community possesses the deeply held values of patriotism, altruism, and egalitarianism. Sayville fears God and respects the flag. This community lives up to the ideal expressed by Thomas Jefferson during the early years of our nation: a healthy democracy is best fortified by providing all of its youth with a robust and rigorous education. These students before you have live up to that ideal with their intelligence; with their tremendous respect for country; and their courage to challenge authority when they believe it is required of them. While the entire Class of 2018 has made real and authentic contributions to our community, I want to recognize in a special way Aleksander Azarov who has made the exceptional commitment to serve his country in the US Navy, and Megan Caraher who has demonstrated her commitment to serve our nation through her attendance at the US Naval Academy. I would close this part of my song with a flourish to express the deep gratitude that all of us here today feel for all those whose contributions and sacrifices - both great and small -has made Sayville a great place to learn and grow.
For the graduates I want my song to be relevant. It needs to resonate within you. The lyrics must challenge you but also reassure and encourage you. Inside each of you there are seeds of greatness. You may say, “Oh no Dr. Stimmel, that’s not me. I’m just ordinary.” Let me assure you, you are not ordinary---you are extraordinary. Your family, teachers, principals and I have all witnessed the potential that you possess. Time and time again I have heard people say, if these students (in the class of 2018) are doing such remarkable things now, what will they do in the years to come? I’ll tell you simply…you will be doing GREAT THINGS.
There will be trials and setbacks for sure--- but the song I sing for you today echoes Sean Mendes: ….there is no giving up for you…no matter how tough things may seem to you at the time…there is no giving up…it’s not in your blood.
Although the tune for this song may remain forever stuck inside in my head, and the lyrics stay within my heart----I hope today that the spirit of my song comes across in some small way. I am privileged to be here with you and those who love you. I represent not just myself but the Board of Education, teachers, principals, and staff that have served you over these past 13 years. In their name and mine I offer you this last refrain.
You are coming of age during challenging times. You have been pressed by conflicting messages from society and those who lead our society. This pressure can cause cynicism and self-doubt. Do not succumb to this pressure. Remain true to the values that have been handed to you by your family, teachers, and community. Each one of you possesses the ability to do GREAT things in life. RESIST the press of cynicism, ANSWER the call of your higher angles, FIND the greatness that lies within you, and go forward today and MAKE our world a better place.
May God bless each of us here today especially the Sayville High School Graduating Class of 2018!