It falls to me to bid the class of 2014 a final farewell on behalf of the Randolph faculty. We take pride in your many, many accomplishments, we share the joy mingled with sadness and melancholy on this special day, and we look with you to the future with anticipation, eagerness, and possibility as you greet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Each class forges its own identity in the life of Randolph School. You have made your own way here, charted your own course. More than anything else, you embody an extraordinary blend of unique individuality and corporate community. Time and time again you’ve shown your ability to go your own way, and at the same time to care for and support each other as your classmates forge their own path forward. This rather extraordinary blend of seeking truth and nurturing all has everything to do with your character and what you have built here in your years at the school. You seek challenges when others might turn aside, you welcome depth in all of its richness and complexity when others take comfort in what looks good on the surface.
Your coaches and teachers and directors and advisers have you pegged: there’s great range and diversity in the class of 2014, but there are not divisive cliques. You draw strength from a will to prevail that comes from within as well as from a sense connectedness and relationship that comes from each other. You have been a class that didn’t want to leave the practice field when the day was done, did not want to take off the uniform after the final game, leave the stage after the final production, or walk away from the last Science Olympiad competition. More than most classes, you live out our hope that students here will make the most of an inter-connected life of academics, the arts, and athletics, a blended range of experiences that inform the whole of who you are, both individually and collectively.
I have long admired the bravery and courage of the class of 2014. A mid-year tragedy that no one expected or could have foreseen shocked and saddened us and grieves us still, but your resolve to stand together as one and push ahead into the unknown has been an inspiration to us all. The author Anne Lamott observes that “hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” You’ve proven that this year. Countless times in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and in the arts, in your out of school commitments in dance or in the workforce, we see you taking risks and making the most of your time here at Randolph and beyond. You may not have always prevailed, but your undaunted courage has left its mark and made you whole and made the School better.
Of all the negative forces in life, fear might be the most debilitating. When we fall prey to fear, we cheapen our lives and sell ourselves and each other short. May you, in the years ahead, hearken back to the courage you showed here in all areas of school life and drink deeply from lives full of promise and possibility, even in the midst of difficulty and occasional despair.
May you have the integrity, wherever you go and whatever you do, to live boldly and authoritatively, remembering, perhaps, what Nelson Mandela once proclaimed about what individual men and women can do unshackle themselves and each other when they overcome their fear and reach beyond themselves: “Our deepest fear,” Mandela wrote, “is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Our playing small does not save the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people do not feel insecure around us. We were all made to shine as children do. It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.”
As you navigate the uncertain shoals of life, bring bravery, courage, compassion, humility, perseverance, and gratitude to the fore. Remember at all times to respect the dignity of your fellow man, even when your beliefs are very different and your styles wildly divergent. May you remember the strength that you drew upon here in this special school, from your teachers, coaches, parents, and especially from each other. May each of you know that you are a gift with an important contribution to make every day. Above all remember that the gift of life is an invitation, not a guarantee, and that you may do with this gift what you choose. We wish you the very, very best in the months and years ahead, and hope you will come back to visit your teachers and coaches and your kindergarten buddies many, many times as proud alumni of the Raider Nation. Godspeed to the class of 2014, and best wishes to each of you in the years ahead.