Valedictory Speech, 1948

by Norma Glaser Justin '48
Responsible Citizenship and “Raising Your Voice"

We have reviewed the past four years and now we turn to thoughts for our future. We seek a standard for success and happiness, a criterion to guide us as we step forth from the protection of Calhoun. Perhaps the most important message I could leave with you tonight is one stressed by both our school and our parents: that of “responsible citizenship."

Why is this message so vital today? Let us look at the serious handicaps under which young people of Europe study. English students have difficulty in procuring text books and supplies, and in France, inadequate food and unheated classrooms make school attendance something like martyrdom.

In nations which have left the boundaries of freedom, the academic picture is still more grim. In Czechoslovakia, with the new regime came the dismissal of uncooperative teachers and the shooting of unyielding students.

These brief vignettes are convincing proof that students in America are fortunate. We enjoy physical comfort and intellectual freedom. Therefore, we should hold close to our hearts the meaning of responsible citizenship, for only thus may we protect the freedom which we as individuals enjoy.

Here are some of the characteristics of the young woman who is a responsible citizen. She is interested in her community and its problems and she seeks to understand the issues of the day in the light of reason and not through the miasma of emotion. She makes her opinion count by the use of voice and vote. The continuance of democracy depends upon this type of citizen, and we know that our Calhoun education has tried to prepare us for just such responsibilities.

Throughout our Calhoun years we have been nurtured on the theme of “education for living." We have felt and practiced democracy in our student government and have prepared for our future role of mature citizens by study of the current issues before the nation. Our school course has had its proper balance for healthy living through recreation and the arts.

Above all, Calhoun has proven to us that honor and truth can prevail for those who are willing to practice them day by day, as we have tried to do in our school life. This learning by doing will bring rich rewards to our school, our parents, and ourselves.

Credit is due to our parents, for they have constantly given us stirring encouragement and have set an example of the kind of people we want to be. They have helped us to hold steadily before our eyes the goal which we have attained tonight. Their participation in the Parents Association and aid in club activities are but examples of their interest in us. Therefore, we take this opportunity to pay tribute and give them thanks tonight as we celebrate this milestone in our lives. They should be standing here beside us with the spotlight on them.

Above all, Calhoun has proven to us that honor and truth can prevail for those who are willing to practice them day by day, as we have tried to do in our school life.

It is not in mere compliance with custom, that, as a spokesman for this graduation class, I offer you, Miss Parmelee, Miss Cosmey, and our teachers our heartfelt gratitude for your guidance and patience. We cannot forget the debt we owe you, for your words of encouragement have often spurred us on to higher endeavors. We have relied upon your wisdom and we have sought counsel and assistance from you who have always been so able and willing to bestow them. May the rougher schooling of life that awaits us be as rich in the treasures of affection as you have made these years.

With equal warmth, our fellow students of the new senior class, we welcome you. There is no doubt that you will carry the new responsibilities and occupy the places we have held with your usual enthusiasm.

Class of 1948. We stand together for the last time. In one way, we must say farewell. We shall not, in the future, enjoy the closeness to which we have grown so accustomed; but, in another way, we graduate to a greater comradeship. For as responsible citizens, we join with people everywhere as they strive for the rule of truth and reason. Thus we are not alone but together. Let our days at Calhoun serve as a memory to strengthen our resolve. Let us never forget that as a free people we seek always to maintain a clear, unlimited frontier for our minds.

Main Building 3rd - 12th Grades 433 West End Avenue New York, NY 10024 212.497.6500

Robert L. Beir Lower School Building 2.8 Years - 2nd Grade 160 West 74th Street New York, NY 10023 212.497.6550

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