By Ralph Mayo
As I was signing diplomas, a task in itself, I began to think about what I wanted to say to you on your final day at Greenwich High School. I then remembered a quote from President John F. Kennedy, who said “in a crisis be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity”. President Kennedy knew a great deal about how to handle a crisis but also how to seize upon the opportunities that were presented to him.
In October of 1957, our entire country was in a panic as the Russians launched the first satellite into space called Sputnik. We were looking to the sky and afraid that our country had failed. When he became president he seized the opportunity to challenge the country to get to the moon by the end of the decade. The country stood together and reached that goal even though President Kennedy did not live to see it.
All of you have lived through 27 months of crises and we now all have the opportunity to make changes in our lives, our schools, our town and in our country. It is important to remember the obstacles you faced in obtaining this diploma but more importantly what you learned from it.
What I learned from you is the following:
That you responded to failure with resilience and perseverance.
That no matter what was taken away from you: social events, in-person schooling, etc., you adapted and made the best of a very bad situation.
That you remained connected to the school when it would have been easy to distance yourself.
That you remained focused and kept your eye on the ball even when it would have been easy to be highly distracted.
You stayed grounded and knew that if you kept working that this too would pass.
That you cared about each other and members of the community by continuing to build on all the service that you and your classmates provide.
To be able to witness all this from young adults was something that I will always remember. Ladies and gentlemen there will be other bumps in the road as you move through life. Take the High Road like you did during your time in high school and don’t complain about what is happening. Instead take action and turn that crisis into an opportunity. Shoot for the moon like John Kennedy and amazing things will happen for all of us.
Thank you and congratulations!
Ralph Mayo is the Principal of Greenwich High School. The column he submitted was the speech he wrote and delivered to the graduating class of 2022 on June 23rd.