Here is the text of my remarks at our recent Academic Awards Ceremony.
Learning involves so many activities and takes so many forms: asking, wondering, reading. listening, discussing, writing, drawing, thinking, reflecting, expressing, cogitating, debating, challenging,, seeking, organizing, inferring, deducing, graphing, practicing, depicting, analyzing, synthesizing: to name a few putting the pieces of our perceptions together with a desire to understand, create, solve and discover. At Dublin we pay attention to all this and more in the education we help you, students, create, and our prizes reflect our respect for the individual potentials of our students.
It has been an unparalleled year of the life of the mind at Dublin, from coding with Raspberry Pis in the fall to our History symposium this week, from student tutoring to fantastic senior presentations, from new AP courses to Ms. Rogers’ Marine Biology blended summer course, intellectual engagement and ambition have never burned so brightly or so widely as this year. Every aspect of school life, even and especially those that do not yield academic credit, have shown that you students are creating opportunities for learning in all facets of your lives. Business Club, the film festival, Robotics, theater, workgang , Earth Day and Mayfair are examples of ways you are making learning the fabric of your lives. It has been exciting to see you at work each day all year.
In our recognition that our daily choices affect the people of the world and the health of the planet, Meatless Mondays and many forms of service have put our knowledge into action to improve the world and our human society. The fact that we have seen so many student initiatives for service, from the blood drive created by Julia in the fall to Che’s yellow ribbon campaign of yesterday shows the spirit of service and the growing empowerment of you students to contribute to greater peace and social justice. Our community has been energized by your learning and your quest to put it into action.
And yet, never has there been greater need for education and for each of your contributions. Perhaps you are aware of the centennial anniversary the world is marking this summer. As we get closer to August, I am sure we will be hearing more about the outbreak of World War I in 1914, a war that seemed the logical outgrowth of the industrial age’s idealization of rationalism, a war that destroyed the old order in Europe, and the certainty in the value system that led to that cataclysm. We are still living with the heritage of that war, still working to develop new nations and economies, greater democracy and truer peace. Your efforts toward balancing the enormous power and wealth of our nation with the depletion of human and natural resources in other communities within our nation and in other parts of the world are greatly needed, and must continue with even greater intensity. The human race has existed for about 7 million years; we have been farmers for about 12,000. We have lived the industrial pattern for only 300, and the havoc wrought by our consumption of the resources of the earth and our soaring population is creating a new crisis perhaps even more destructive, needless and unfair than World War I with climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Yesterday Mr. Bates challenged us each to be involved in service to others over the summer. Take that important work seriously and question the circumstances that lead to its necessity. We as a species must find new ways of living in harmony with each other and our environment. We must find ways to see ourselves as one planet, one species, one people. We must learn and change. Question, study, reflect, think, learn, create, give. The world needs your learning.
I cannot end without mentioning Maya Angelou, whose life and work embodied so much of what we admire and need. She is a role model for all of us, at every stage. As a child she suffered dislocation and rape; she grew up facing racism and poverty. She spoke the truth; she chose silence in penance for causing harm to another, her assaulter, she read literature to educate herself. She held every type of job and broke barriers as she rose: teenage mother, strip club dancer, street car conductor, secretary, professor, adviser, actress, activist, poet, professor. A woman of indefatigable spirit and energy, she lived in many places, she worked for civil rights, she sought solace and growth in the arts, she wrote with exuberance. Her writing broke taboos, voiced stories shrouded in silences, brought them to light and elevated them. Ms. Angelou’s life shows the power of education, and her growth gives us an example of how we each can flourish. The world needs your learning, but you too need your learning as you seek your calling, and create a life of purpose, beauty, and meaning.
Here is a little bit from one of Maya Angelous’ poems to frame our ceremony today.
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth ….
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
So now we will come to it, to holding up and taking joy in the wonder of your learning and growth, the power of your work and education. May these prizes reaffirm our commitment to the hard work, the discipline of learning, to seeking truth and acting with courage.