Saturday, Aug 13th

A School Holds 50th Graduation

ASchoolGroupIn a fitting end to a tumultuous four years at Scarsdale High School, uncertain weather caused the A School to move their ceremony, which is traditionally held on the steps of the school, inside to the high school auditorium. The decision was made just an hour and half before the Friday afternoon event.

The ceremony marked the A School’s fiftieth year – a milestone!

And it was also the final A School ceremony for two beloved A School teachers. English teacher Jeanne Cooper will retire at the end of the school year, and Social Studies Teacher Jen Maxwell will leave her post at the A School to take the role of Social Studies Department Chair at Scarsdale High School.

Introductory remarks were made by A School Director Fallon Plunkett who said goodbyes to Cooper and Maxwell. Then each of the 25 graduating students received personalized remarks from the advisors, followed by this address from Sam Dresher, member of the graduating class.

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Greetings class of 2022! For those I haven’t met, my name is Sam Drescher, and thank you for the honor of allowing me to speak before you today. A special hello to my mom and dad, who I realized about an hour ago have no idea what’s going on right now as I neglected to tell them I was speaking today.

So, I’ll start real with you all. These past three years have been nothing short of insane. It’s been the most wild ride, going virtual to in-person to virtual again more times than I can count. We’ve gone through the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. But somehow, here we are, in all our glory: the 50th graduating class of the Scarsdale Alternative School. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

ASchool1Actually, scratch that: there’s one thing that has brought us through these tumultuous years, and it’s the idea that I want to discuss with you all today. It’s the reason we are all here, and the reason I’m forcing you guys to listen to me after all these hours. That idea is community. It’s a word we’ve heard countless times over our A-School careers. it’s the very bedrock of the institution from which we are now departing. But what is community? Why is it so essential to the human experience? And why does this short kid standing in front of me care so much about it?

Community is such a multi-dimensional, convoluted concept that I couldn’t possibly address all its facets in a short speech. In fact, community is so complicated that I, as a sophomore, didn’t know what it meant. I mean, I literally could not tell you what the word “community” meant; I had to look it up in the dictionary for one of my first papers in Jeanne’s class in tenth grade.

Nevertheless, community remains crucial for all people because of one thing, and I first realized this a couple days ago talking to Micah Arenstein. He told me how he enjoyed being held accountable for his actions. And then it hit me like a truck: accountability is at the core of community. It was accountability to everyone here that made me write this speech 23 hours before graduation instead of 2. And it’s accountability that binds us all in a pattern of upward growth. Accountability mandates that you be there for others: in a community like ours, and in a class like ours, we have all been there for each other when we needed it most.

Even more importantly, accountability gives you not only an option, but an imperative to turn to others when you need them. It forces you to acknowledge your mistakes and realize your shortcomings. It makes it OK to ask for help, like asking your core group for advice or crying in Mike’s office during the significant figures unit.

Accountability forces you to see the people around you; not just to know their names, but to know their ASchool2stories and their backgrounds. And wow, do we have some diversity among us. From captains of sports teams to genius engineers, from international expats, to musical virtuosos, from Warriors fans to Celtics fans. It’s been an enormous joy to get to know and learn from all of you, but also to recognize my obligation towards each and every one of you. It’s this sense of accountability that has allowed us to have the deepest of relationships. Members of our class have turned to each other for guidance, advice, and late night drives to Jeanne’s house.

And last but definitely not least, accountability requires that we live in the moment. As I’m sure we all know, Scarsdale High School is often a cesspool of competition, where people one-up their friends for what they see as a better chance at getting into a good college, so they can get a good job, so they can be successful…the list goes on. But accountability for each other means that you can’t be living three or four years in the future. The reality is that this community doesn’t function properly if even a single one of us isn’t fully present and committed to the mission. The direct democracy and obligation to each other that are so deeply entrenched into our A-School structures mean that the community needs you here, and now.

Of course, the reality of the situation is that come next year, the community won’t need us. The A-School will go on, and our leaving will make room for 28 other kids to have the same phenomenal experiences we did. Therefore, for once, we find ourselves looking towards the future. And if there is one thing you take away from today, I want it to be this:

Our time in the A-School was not just a high school experience. We weren’t just part of this program to pass our classes, or even to make an impact on this community. No. Our aim is far more ambitious. We have a responsibility to the new, wonderful places we are going next year to be the architects of community. When you step foot on that campus, and for the rest of your life, it is your duty to build community in your footsteps. Whether that community is a sports team, a club, a group of friends, or an entire university, we must dedicate the skills we’ve learned here to bind that community closer together.

Encourage discourse yet foster consensus. Have difficult conversations, but make sure every voice is included. Take care of the people who sit next to you in English because they could be your best friends. Meet and get to know your teachers, because they just might be some of the most important people in your life. Never be afraid to sacrifice your time and energy for the greater good. Trust and rely on the people around you. And most importantly, be accountable. Hold your friends accountable, hold yourself accountable, hold the community accountable.

This was practice. Now we’re ready for the real thing. So, thank you for being a friend. Thank you for holding me accountable.

We were all in this together, and I’m so unbelievably proud of the ways we’ve grown. I love you guys so much. Congratulations, class of 22!

2022 Graduates

Abby Fine
Aiden Pierson
Alex Horvath
Allison Coburn
Audrey Gendel
Carolina Vittori
Claire Kaufman
Jacob Zik
Jayho So
Jonah Dichter
Jonathan Wallach
Juliana Zraick
Maya Zilberstein
Mackenzie Harpster
Micah Arenstein
Michael Mancusi
Nick Mangieri
Olivia Cohen
Robin Glicker
Ryan Gerson
Sam Dresher
Sydney Rothschild
Sedna Ghandi
Talia Levenson
Will Bunzel
Will Reed

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