(Speech to graduates at 2019 commencement exercises)
I want to add my congratulations to this very special Graduating class of 2019. I have had the pleasure of teaching them every week, and they are a wonderful group of young people. They are kind. They are thoughtful. They have contributed to the entire School community. If they differ in opinions from each other, they treat the peer who has a different point of view with respect and courtesy. How I wish our politicians could learn from these Seniors.
And, when I walk into the class to teach, they applaud. I have no idea if this is in jest or earnest, but I can say that I like it. Jayme told me that you applauded her and she liked it too. This senior class has no academic failures this year, which frankly is a rarity, so everyone is getting a diploma, and their college acceptance record is truly outstanding. All of them got into their 1st or 2nd choice colleges and over 75% into their first choice! This is a tribute to them and reflects on their academic strength, and their willingness to work closely with Janet Rooney, David Leventhal, and my wife.
So it is with genuine nostalgia that I say goodbye. This is the last time we all will be together, and the faculty and yours truly will miss you. Congratulations to your parents who supported you. This is a great class!
Since Lin-Manuel Miranda is your graduation speaker today, I am not going to be foolish enough to make a long speech. But Noah and Sam did refer to the fact that this is the end of Jayme and my 50th year, having started York Prep in 1969, and there have been people who wonder how one can do the same job, working with one’s wife whose office is literally next door to mine (she, as you all have noticed has the far better office) for half a century? It is sobering to say half a century? The answer is easy, and I already have given it. The answer as to how we could do this and will continue to do this is YOU, the students, this class, the fun of interacting with young people. It is you, who Jayme and I debate about as to how we can make the school better (she always wins), and it is you who have enabled us to have so much joy together in running York Prep. So for this, I heartily thank you.
So, in hoping that you enjoyed being at York as much as your faculty enjoyed teaching you, I am going to ask my wife and Janet Rooney to join me as we get to the purpose to today’s ceremony, which is giving your well-deserved diplomas. We do this by row and we applaud each row, at the end, in turn. Let us hope it goes well as well as rehearsed and that the right diploma gets in the right hands.
Ronald P. Stewart
York Prep School