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Dr. Martirano’s 2020
Commencement Address

The following address was given by Superintendent Michael Martirano to the Class of 2020 during their virtual graduation ceremonies:

Greetings and I want to begin by saying congratulations to the Class of 2020!

You have persevered academically for over twelve years, and I am so proud of you and confident that you are ready for the next chapter of your life.

You have achieved your goals both inside the classroom and outside the classroom all while displaying and exhibiting solid character.

Ultimately, who you are as a person will determine your lifelong success, fulfillment and happiness. Having strong character involves hard work, perseverance and grit. It means you have resilience, passion and determination. Most of all, good character means always reaching down to give others a hand up.

I commend the positive attitude and level of resilience that you have displayed, especially during these last several months. You have shown truly exceptional character. Class of 2020, I am in awe of your spirit and tenacity. Your optimistic and hopeful spirit serves as a model for all who interact with you.

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost, and his poem, “The Road Not Taken” is my favorite. Its words have a poignancy that is most symbolic and relevant for this time. The final stanza of this poem reads as follows:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

To you as graduates, you have been on the road less traveled. I encourage you to stay on that path and forge your own road. Your chosen path should be the one that leads to your fulfillment and happiness. Capitalize on all that you can, to forge a future that will make a difference for others, and helps to define a new and brighter future for humankind.

Your diploma gives you the opportunity to truly make change in the world.

As we grapple with the social-emotional impacts of a pandemic that may have forever changed our daily lives, we have recently witnessed another senseless killing of an African American, George Floyd. It is important that we acknowledge this event, reflect on the hurt and pain we are feeling and resolve together to do our part to eradicate hate, condemn violence and stand up to acts of racism within our own communities.

The great writer James Baldwin said it best, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” The best way for us to move forward is to face it head on, talk about it and to take actions that prevent this from happening again. I implore you to lead with vulnerability and empathy, be change-leaders for justice and create peaceful opportunities and spaces for people to share and heal together. The only way to eradicate hate is to lead with love, care and compassion.

If I can foreshadow our future, you, my beautiful students, are my hope for better days ahead and better society. Be gentle and be kind. Be patient and persistent. Be others-centered and lead with equity as your core value. Be empathetic, caring and compassionate. Be upstanders, not bystanders. Be agents of change, and be the love in the world, because love is the force that can illuminate and transcend all of humankind.

You have an amazing opportunity, and have a view like none who have come before you. Your perspective will be electrifying. Your generation will be known as the ones who truly changed the trajectory of our future. Choose to take the road less traveled, and make the difference that your journey along the road will reveal.

To the Class of 2020 – I wish you love, joy and most of all happiness. Congratulations.