As you will all note in the program, my task this morning is to provide for you all reflections on today’s graduates. For the last few weeks, I have been carefully observing the world around me and the class of 2016, in particular, in search of a distilled message to reflect on our time together these past few years. I toyed around with sharing some sage advice from Shakespeare, obviously one of my favorites. Hamlet does, after all, share that the purpose of playing is to hold up the mirror to nature. The dramatic arts reflect who we are as human beings through the actions of characters on stage.
I considered quoting lines from one of my favorite poems, Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,” Kipling writes, “But make allowance for their doubting, too.” The poem’s third and fourth lines are a call for us to see in ourselves strength, and at the same time, to see through our reflections in the eyes of others, their doubts in us. Poetry, too, might have been a way to help you see yourselves as scholars, artists, and athletes of character.
At last week’s Senior Dinner, my understanding of you as a class coalesced with each of you sharing your favorite memories of your time at Country Day, both in person and on video. As you shared your memories, what you’d miss about Country Day, and what you thought most defined you as a class, you each smiled generously. Sometimes you laughed heartily together, and joyously celebrated being Torreys. Frame after frame, each of you shared a joyful smile, a heartfelt humorous anecdote, or a funny story about having had the time of your life these last four years.
What struck me picture after picture was the sheer volume of smiles grinning back at all of us. I can say, with all honesty, I’ve never known a happier, more joyful class in my 20 plus years in education. Thanks to your limitless smiles, you’ve made this a wonderful place for all of us to work and for your fellow students to learn. I went in search of a great passage from literature to support my contention that through smiling every day, you’ve made the world a better place, and I found this anonymous but insightful overview of the power of a smile.
A smile costs nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive,
without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it.
and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home,
fosters good will in business,
and is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary,
cheer to the discouraged,
sunshine to the sad,
and is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
for it is something that is of no value to anyone
until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
Class of 2016, thanks for smiling your way through the last four years. My charge to you is simple, “keep smiling!”