Here is the text of my welcoming comments at the South Burlington High School graduation ceremony.
Good evening. On behalf of your elected school board representatives – Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Bridget Burkhardt, Alex McHenry, Brian Minier and myself – I welcome you to the South Burlington High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony.
I am especially pleased to be here because I have known many of the graduating seniors since they were in kindergarten, way back in the 2007-2008 school year. That’s when my family moved to South Burlington. Like many others, we chose to move here so our kids, one of whom is graduating today, could benefit from South Burlington’s excellent public schools.
There is a promise that exists between a community and its public schools. In exchange for the community’s support, the public school teaches every child who passes through its doors – whatever their backgrounds or abilities, and whether the doors are physical or virtual.
In South Burlington, our teachers are guided by the outcomes the community expects from its public schools. The community expects our graduates to be academically proficient in a broad range of subject matters. We expect them to have developed personally, with self-awareness and interpersonal skills. We expect them to have developed a sense of citizenship, to be empowered and enthusiastic contributors to their communities. We expect them to be life-long learners, able to adapt to the changing needs of the economy and to succeed in the face of such changes. And we expect that our graduates “will successfully complete their education from the South Burlington School District ready for their next step,” whatever that may be. As part of their promise to the community, our public schools strive to help our students meet all of these expectations. And the amazing class of 2020 is evidence that they have succeeded.
Of course, there is another vital component of public education. Our public schools are where the community’s children meet and sit side by side in classrooms, on bleachers, in cafeterias, and in the last three months, on Zoom. They question, they debate, they navigate friendships. They learn from each other as surely as they learn from their teachers.
Before us today are the products of the promise between the community and the South Burlington Public Schools. Our resilient graduating seniors. With the help of parents, guardians, supportive friends and family, and our District’s fabulous teachers, staff and administrators, they are ready for their next steps. Ready to go on to college, to serve this country in the military, to start careers, to engage with the world in innumerable ways.
Graduating seniors, the class of 2020, on behalf of the South Burlington School Board, we are honored to send you on your way.