Well men, you made it, at least to the first part of graduation weekend.
You added your own interesting touch to the traditional challenge to help some of you complete your coursework, laps, detentions, and work details…..However, I must confess that you did so with much less drama and suspense than many of those who came before you….In fact, the Headmaster had this huge project planned for those of you in need of work. In clearing out the old buildings and gnarly fencing to make way for what will soon be a beautiful green space along Dodds Avenue, there remains quite a bit of debris, sticks and rocks left over by the earth moving equipment. While a few of you got to experience this project first hand, Mr. Burns has had to resort to hiring faculty children to complete the job given the lack of labor we are accustomed to having during this time of year.
Remember, Gentlemen, there is still time for you to have the experience of cleaning and grooming this area to meet the Headmaster’s very high and exacting standards.
Your Senior Prank certainly had an obvious water theme to it as you got to be the first class to suds up the fountain. I don’t know what you guys put in the water, but I have never seen bubbles reach a height of over 6 feet… I guess I really don’t want to know.
And, to those of you who piled into my office to protest the belaying of the post Senior Assembly water balloon barrage, remember what you learned:
Have a plan when you walk into the room about who is going to say what.
Don’t get distracted by knick knacks in the office and start picking things up and making comments.
Be sure never to interrupt the person who will make the decision when you have very little leverage to impact the outcome.
Thankfully and not unexpectedly, you followed our agreement to perfection and the tradition has a chance to continue for the Class of 2020!
It has been an honor, it has always been a pleasure, and it has been, at times, a challenge to be with you on this journey. I am sure you would have it no other way.
And to your parents, we thank them for partnering and sharing their sons with us during these formative years in your lives.
You men have come a long way since arriving on campus and have proven yourselves to be scholars, academicians, research scientists, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, thespians, community servants, servant leaders… on regional, state and national levels… and most of all McCallie Men of outstanding character. In this environment of learning that is the Ridge, we hope that you gained knowledge from us, but have no doubt that we learned from you as well.
While every school year has joyous and challenging times, this one was one of the most enjoyable I have had in quite a few years. My conversations with your teachers and deans were in the same vein. You were great partners with and stewards of the school community both in tangible ways and in spirit. The faculty and administration want to thank you for your leadership, understanding, resilience, encouragement, bold candor, and joy throughout the year. This was especially evident through your inspiring and thoughtful Chapel talks which focused on these central themes:
Make the most of your time at McCallie.
Be mindful of and take care of those around you.
Try new things and take healthy risks.
Take part in something bigger than ourselves.
Develop and hold fast to your own world view, but listen and be empathetic.
Forever remember the brotherhood that is the Ridge and take it with you.
When we think of your class, we will remember young men who were selfless, wise beyond your years, givers of unconditional love, happiness, support... and courageous, yet vulnerable and even a bit irascible.
Your accomplishments are far too many to name in the time we have, but I would like to share some words your faculty use to describe this great class, and I quote:
“I have never seen a group of guys truly pull for and celebrate each other’s accomplishments in such a selfless manner.
From Dean Bires...“These guys were not complainers. They went about their business and found ways to deal with things that were not perfect. They pushed for what they wanted, but didn’t hold a grudge if it didn’t work out.”
From Dean McCallie...“Instead of sitting on the sidelines, they have chosen to engage the world with all its beauty and it challenges; they have chosen to be difference makers, putting voices and action behind causes they believe in.”
From Dean Wadley...“This class of boarding seniors has led the way in a truly positive manner. They were part of several new initiatives and programs, but always managed to RISE to the occasion.”
From Dean Hopping...“A creative, energetic and generous group of young men. Challenging and awesome, but sometimes infuriating combination of difficult to wrangle and easy to work with at the same time.
“They were the most mature class I have ever encountered….knowing how to both nurture the underclassmen and work with adults.”
Class of 2019 that is quite a well-earned tribute!
Gentlemen, you are, simply put, just great guys to be around. I truly mean that. Personally, I appreciate the fist bumps, crazy handshakes, words of encouragement, and sincere questions about how I was doing on any given day. Your sarcastic -- as exemplified by the Senior Assembly Video -- and respectful humor made us feel very much a part of this great class. When I first came to McCallie, I was about the same age as the students and was treated as such. Now I am old enough -- barely, I might add -- to be your grandfather. When hanging around with you dudes, I couldn’t tell the difference. We will fondly remember you for that, along with many other things.
It is comforting to know that you will be leading us in the future and helping to figure out how to fix some of the challenges our generation has left for you to solve.
Men, I hope the McCallie community has made a positive difference in your lives. The Class of 2019 has left a lasting, positive impression on your school:
You created a vibrant and supportive school culture... and a very unique one at that.
You set the bar high for future McCallie classes in many areas of school life. Your school is better because you were here.
You truly helped your school community navigate an ever-changing world with vigor of youth and the heart of an old soul.
You most certainly did so in your own special and dignified manner.
You truly are a worthy, but unique and beloved class of McCallie men.
Men of McCallie, congratulations on a job well -- well, almost -- done. The Headmaster will remind you of this fact in a much more eloquent and clever manner in a moment, but for now rest assured that when the diplomas are placed in your hands tomorrow morning it is done so with pride, gratitude, and anticipation of the remarkable things to come in your lives.
Now for the last time, if you men will so kindly indulge me, I feel compelled to give you of one more rendition of Words To the Wise as you leave us to embark on your new and exciting journeys.
1. Be where you really are… don’t be distracted too much by the clutter of technology and social media or hurry through your days.
2. Commit to something larger than yourself… put yourself in situations where others are counting on you.
3. Don’t take yourself more seriously than your work... be willing to laugh at yourself, don’t be easily offended and strive to be self aware.
4. Keep your ego in check and balanced so you can gain wisdom along the way.
5. Next year, your freshman year in college, find a healthy routine and stick to it… and get plenty of sleep, eat well and move. The freedom of the college experience, alone, will be intoxicating enough… Be Well and Do Good.
6. Love God with all your might… and Love your neighbor as yourself… Everything in life hinges upon this commandment and promise.
7. And of course… continue to endeavor to overcome your underdeveloped, but most promising frontal lobes.
Finally, I close with a Charge and a Request:
The Charge: Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Come back to visit us often in the coming years... and we truly hope you will. Know that all you have to do to make us proud is to strive to become good men who will further what you learned and earned on the Ridge.
Congratulations and Godspeed, Gentlemen.
We will miss you.
We love you guys!