Deerfiled-Windsor School Headmaster David Davies congratulates Valedictorian Amy Radha Rao at Sunday’s DWS Class of 2014 Graduation ceremony. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The final lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork “The Great Gatsby” served as the backdrop of Deerfield-Windsor School (DWS) Valedictorian Amy Radha Roa’s speech as she and 61 of her classmates earned their diplomas at Sunday’s graduation ceremony of the DWS Class of 2014.
Rao used her speech as a time to reflect on how the past fours years of high school at DWS will continue to shape the course of the lives each graduate.
“Graduation isn’t just about our future,” said Rao. “It’s also about our past, present and connecting all three. We are still forever connected to our own history here. We have no future without first building on our past.”
Class Salutatorian Anna Marie Cowart also referenced the past four years when offering her thanks to the faculty and fellow students who worked to make her time at DWS so beneficial. She spoke of the various academic and athletic achievements she and her classmates earned while attending, but said what she really learned were important life lessons.
“We have been blessed to call this place our home and these people our family,” said Cowart. “We are more prepared for our future because of our life lessons that have been learned here at DWS.”
Members of the DWS family which Cowart references were also on hand to give their congratulations and one such family member, DWS Dean of Students Rod Murray, who was chosen by the class of 2014 as the faculty speaker for Sunday’s ceremony, offered not only his thanks for having had the opportunity to impact the lives of the students, but some words of wisdom and a final challenge for the graduates.
Murray, who is departing DWS this summer, reminded the students that he believes there are three types of people in the world — quitters, campers and climbers. He told them that quitters give up under pressure and that campers don’t achieve their full potential and are content to stay in one place, while climbers never stop achieving and reaching for higher goals.
“I’m going to challenge this senior class one more time,” said Murray. “You be better than the quitter. I’m going to challenge you to be better than the camper, don’t you be satisfied sitting there, just barely getting by. I’m going to challenge you, you be a climber. You dig as high as you can when you get out in life. You be that climber.”
DWS Headmaster David Davies, also offering advice to the students, reminded them of the importance of working hard and being diligent in all their endeavors, never assuming things will work out just because they are good at something. He also reminded them that they were part of a larger community and had deep connections as friends and alumni that would serve them well.
“Each of you needs to sweat the small stuff and not assume anything,” said Davies. “Hard work, attention to detail, stay connected, that’s it. As many of you would say, ‘that’s all I’ve got.’”