Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School Graduation Remarks 2018

Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School Graduation Remarks
Kenneth N. Salim, Superintendent

June 7, 2018

Good Evening Mayor McGovern, Members of the Cambridge School Committee, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Turk, Principal Damon Smith, CRLS teachers and staff, CPS administrators, family members, friends, guests and most importantly the graduates of the class of 2018.

I am delighted to be here today for my second CRLS Graduation to celebrate and address the graduating class of 2018.

Class of 2018: you are graduating at a dynamic and challenging time in our history and are part of a unique group. Unlike many of your parents, relatives and friends in the audience today, you are part of a generation that has not, yet, been definitively named. While some have used the term post-Millennials or Generation Z to describe you – there is not yet a consensus on your collective generational identity.

In our audience we have members representing many generations… We have a few members of what is known as the “GI Generation” or “Greatest Generation” – those that lived during World War II and provided dedicated service to the hard work of rebuilding of our country after the war.

This was followed by the “Silent Generation” - a term coined by Time magazine in 1951. This generation was considered more cautious than the previous GI generation and more career focused. Generally more focused on stability than on questioning authority, this generation also produced many leaders of the civil rights movement and other movements for justice. They witnessed the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and watched Neil Armstrong plant the United States flag on the moon.

We also have many Baby Boomers here today who represent the generation that was born after World War II. They grew up during the 60s during a period of dramatic social change for our nation – the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. This was the first generation to grow up on television. Transistor radios were used as personal listening devices long before Youtube or Spotify.

And then there are the many Gen Xers here who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, when MTV played music and great videogame graphics meant more than two colors., Also referred to as the latchkey generation, as children, Gen Xers experienced less adult supervision than previous generations. Generation X witnessed the mainstreaming of LGBT rights and the rapid expansion of economic globalization.

And finally, the Millennials - Gen Y - who grew up with the start of our internet culture and a newly wired world – millenials experienced the rapid expansion of media options and platforms. The first to come of age in the new millennium, they are the largest cohort since the Baby Boomers. They faced the Great Recession as they were transitioning into the workforce, while at the same time embracing and accepting the diversity within human experience, expression, and identity.

But your generation – class of 2018 – has not yet been defined and labeled by popular culture. While some pundits refer to you as Gen Z or post-millennials, there isn’t a name that has fully formed for those that are born in the late 1990s and later….

If Cambridge can be understood as a microcosm of broader society, I believe that you have already started to express yourselves in important ways that will come to define your generation.

As a cohort, you have become social activists at an earlier stage in life than your parents and grandparents’ generation. Before even finishing high school, your generation has been focusing attention and demanding change on issues of human rights, race, gender and sexual orientation. During a time in history which is filled with uncertainty and ambiguity about how the future will unfold, you have led walkouts and organized voter registration drives. You have catalyzed difficult community conversations about racism, sexual harassment, and gun violence. You have championed tolerance and fought against the painful impacts of Islamophobia, anti-semitism and xenophobia. You--and I mean you, the graduating class of 2018--have lifted your voices to create positive change here in Cambridge, nationally and within our global community.

As the first generation to be true digital natives – raised in the era of smartphones--it is probably difficult to remember a time before social media. You get a lot of grief for using your phones too much; but earlier generations could learn a lot from how you use your phones. You have figured out how to use technology to connect, empower and build relationships that extend beyond the boundaries of your individual social sphere. And I believe that you will pave the path for how technology can be used to better our world.

Class of 2018, as you begin your journey today beyond Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, I have great confidence that you will be the leading edge of a yet-to-be-named generation that is already helping the rest of us make the world a better and more just place, and to improve the lives of all.

You will continue to be leaders, disrupters and connectors in a world that needs your leadership and passion.

You will solve today’s most complex and challenging social, environmental and medical problems.

You will take on jobs that do not even exist today and achieve outcomes thought impossible.

You will lead with compassion, participate actively, and collaborate with respect and dignity.

And, you will continue to stand up for what is right and serve our community in all that you do.

I am genuine in my admiration for you and your generation; and yet this would not be a graduation speech without some closing words of advice. I hope the words of film actor and activist Julie Andrews will underscore the path you have already set out on, as you take the next steps in your journey. She advised:
"Use your knowledge and your heart to stand up for those who can't stand. Speak for those who can't speak. Be a beacon of light for those whose lives have become dark. Fight the good fight...Be a part of all that is good and decent. Be an ambassador for the kind of world you want to live in."
It is with great honor and privilege that I congratulate you, our ambassadors to the future.

Congratulations, CRLS Class of 2018!
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