Friday, Jul 12th

Principal Ken Bonamo Tells Seniors To Face Challenges with Courage

fieldHere are remarks from Scarsdale High School Principal Kenneth Bonamo to the graduates of the Scarsdale High School Class of 2024 on Thursday June 20, 2024 at Butler Field.

Good evening President Schulhof, Superintendent Patrick, fellow members of the faculty, parents and friends, and most especially the members of the Class of 2024.

Today is a special day that marks the culmination of your childhood education and the beginning of college and adulthood for you.

Your families and your teachers are filled with a deep hope that we have given you all that you need to succeed in these next stages, and we are filled with anticipation at what the future holds for you.

drew ken ronThe resources that the Scarsdale community devotes to education have allowed us to provide you with an enriching and engaging experience that has developed in you a depth of critical and creative thinking, an appreciation for global interdependence, and a genuine love of learning.

These goals have guided our work as a faculty in designing the courses and learning activities that you’ve enjoyed during the past four years. The vantage point of graduation allows you to appreciate the impact of your work in developing your academic skills and fostering your growth as individuals.

This accomplishment also represents the hard work you have put into getting here.

umbrellasYou have excelled in athletic and extracurricular activities, developing the habits of mind of the different disciplines while nurturing your interests and relationships outside of the classroom.

And so you have completed your coursework and your exams and your Senior Options and have earned a seat at this very ceremony.

This is not by accident but instead through commitment and dedication to your goals.

It is so wonderful to be together on such a beautiful occasion. It is so good to see all of you here to celebrate this moment that is filled with meaning, as it represents both the accomplishment of having graduated and the commencement of your adult lives. Let us pause here for a moment to appreciate the beauty and significance of this moment.

I ask you to pause because we are in this moment filled with energy, but at the same time we ask you to think about quite a daunting question:

What is a meaningful life, and how do I live one?

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This is one of the most profound questions you will face, and this is a moment of high emotion to be thinking about it.

We as your elders think about ourselves at your age and what it was like to see the world without all of the experiences we have accumulated over time.

And we ask you, at the age of 17 or 18, to think about such an enormous question when you are filled with anticipation about what comes next.

As young people, you can only guess at how the experiences of the next few years will shape the years that follow.

As older people, we, your parents and teachers, can never really recapture the innocence of the moment of high school graduation that we celebrate today.

We can give you advice, sure, but we cannot really explain to you what is to come, because the world tomorrow will be quite different than the one we encountered when we were your age, and each of you is an individual with unique talents and interests.

Your educational journey will continue to allow you to find work that truly engages you, that motivates you to pursue it on its own merits, where you find yourself in a state of flow—where you lose a sense of time and space in answering a question or satisfying a curiosity.
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That is one of the true pleasures of learning, and I hope you use the privilege of being engaged in study as your primary occupation to search broadly and then deeply to find the subject that brings you the most intellectual satisfaction which ultimately leads you to the power of independent thought.

The philosopher Immauel Kant wrote that “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.” He defined immaturity as “the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.”

For most of your schooling, you have needed guidance from your teachers, though incrementally less and less as you progressed through the grades.

As you grow more confident in your ability to think independently, you will need courage to use your understanding. Dare to be wise.

As you confront the challenges of our world and of our society, armed with the knowledge and skills you have acquired here at Scarsdale, I hope you will endeavor to make the world a better place.

In order to make real change and bring about progress, you will need to add personal courage to the skills and knowledge you gain in school.

When you take stock of the news of our day, of domestic problems, international relations, income inequality, social justice, educational policy, and environmental challenges, it should be clear that regardless of what side of any one question you take, in order to advance the cause you will need courage.

As the energy of your youth matures into the wisdom of age, you will continue to find your voices and ways in which you can make your marks.

Given the magnitude of these social and global problems, we will need your fresh voices and new ideas and the courage to stand up even when it means you will stand out.

Your success will be measured not by how much you take for yourself but by how much you give of yourself.

Finally, I also urge you to build a legacy of love.

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The key to your success in taking advantage of the many opportunities and meeting the many challenges that lie ahead will be to infuse love into your work, your relationships, and your self-regard.

Love is an active ingredient of our intelligence.

Knowledge is not acquired information like a computer stores data.

Rather, it involves an intentional engagement with whatever the information might be about.

Intelligence requires a dialogue with the world, and a state of flow is when we are fully immersed in the exchange.

Love is what invites us into that connection.

If you look around this field, you will see your family and friends who demonstrated love in supporting you.

You will see your teachers who loved teaching and guiding you.

And most importantly, you should look at yourselves and love what you see—an intelligent, curious, responsible person, poised to continue learning in order to take on the challenges of life and of our society.

I wish you all a wonderful graduation day and health and happiness in the future. Congratulations to you all!