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Superintendent Sends Message to Greenwich Grads

Following is Greenwich Superintendent of Schools Sidney Freund’s message to graduating seniors. The Daily Greenwich welcomes the opinions of its readers. Send letters to the editor to ahelhoski@mainstreetconnect.us.

June 20, 2011

Greenwich High School Graduation

To the Class of 2011 –

Your education is far from complete. For at least 13 years now you’ve been educated in and out of school.

You’ve learned much from your family, peers, the Greenwich community at large and, of course, the media.

You’ve learned in the classroom as well. This community has invested a lot of resources in your education. You’ve had the privilege to be educated by some of the best-trained teachers in the nation. The Greenwich curriculum is a model for our state and nation. Greenwich has pioneered assessments of what you’ve learned and has been a forerunner in teacher evaluation and professional learning.

But still, there is great concentration on the “bottom line.” The media is constantly publishing standardized test results and comparisons to other districts. As state and national leaders focus on essential higher standards and their importance to America’s economic future health, I fear we are in danger of believing the statistics have more meaning than they actually do have.  Your education should not be reduced to a statistic. Our District’s mission is not to just produce good future workers.

Let’s not forget that the essence of education is people, relationships, character and building the capacity for higher-order thinking and creativity. The essence of education is in the tools that we have provided you with in order to live full lives, to be self-sufficient, to lead a moral and ethical existence and to value service to others.

All of this is very personal and cannot be reduced to a comparative statistic.  Nonetheless, it IS important.

President Woodrow Wilson, himself a great scholar, put it this way: “When all is said and done, man is a spirit and lives not [just] by what he does, but by what he thinks and hopes.” Wilson was asserting that content knowledge is inadequate to meet the requirements of the modern world. One must also look beyond one’s self and develop qualities of mind, spirit and character.

Graduates, I hope that you will remain “Forever Young,” not to be confused with forever immature.  Embrace life generously.

Remember that the intangibles are often more to be valued than the goods we accumulate over our lifetime. “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

I would like to leave you with the following quote from Ayn Rand’s novel “ Atlas Shrugged”:

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst.  In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads.  Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach.  Check your road and the nature of your battle.  The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”

Give your parents a hug when you reconnect after graduation. They too are anxious about the future. They are feeling proud, a little weepy, and apprehensive about the upcoming tuition bills.

Class of 2011, you are on your way.  We wish you all the best and Godspeed.

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