June 11, 2015: NSA is not the only one watching

June 11, 2015: Belmont Citizen-Herald

Congratulations Belmont High Class of 2015.

As you complete your journey through Belmont’s education system, you should understand that community members –even those who don’t have kids in the high school—have been noticing you this year.

Yes, you can act like teenagers. The condition of your room at home is between you and your parents. But, discarding empty plastic bottles and candy wrappers on the grounds of the school is. . .well. . .unseemly. Those trash barrels serve a purpose.

By and large, though, we’ve liked what we’ve seen.

Both the boys and girls soccer teams.  Oh so close on both fronts, even though each ultimately ended the season with a loss.  Luke Gallaher, Peter Berens and Ben Lazenby for the boys, joined by Katrina Rokosz and others for the girls, are senior soccer players who should be holding their heads high this year.

This year’s musical production of Anything Goes was universally acclaimed by all who saw it.  While the voice of Zoe Miner is truly magical, two more memories from that production will remain for years: the jazz of the choreography (who taught you how to tap dance like that?), and the energy that flowed from the dancers to the audience due to the sheer joy they were exhibiting on stage.

The best high school saxophone player in the state. As Casey Stengel would say, you can look it up.  Congratulations Rowan Wolf.  And the jazz ensemble (all seniors but the trombone player), whether playing in the BHS Little Theatre or at the Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge.  Charlie Smith on keyboards, Mary Yeh on bass, Max Davidowitz on percussion.  You’ve set a high standard for future BHS jazz musicians. Well done.

A semi-final finish in the statewide High School Quiz Show competition.  Math, chemistry, Greek mythology, philosophy, and a host of arcane questions.  To know the material is one thing; to know it and be able to conjure it up and get it out in an instant. . .impressive doesn’t even begin to capture it.

This year’s over-ride election.  The point is not even that you helped the over-ride to prevail.  Through the participation of a substantial group of BHS students (under the leadership of Daniel Vernick, amongst others), you demonstrated that you understand that you bear some responsibility for what happens in this town.  Showing that you learned the lessons of your civics classes –that issues such as the over-ride are decided by a collective “us,” not a third-party “them”– was tremendous.

The BHS student section at a football game last fall.  Not performers, not athletes, but students acting as students.  The BHS student section was chanting a chant that. . .yup. . .it probably should not have been yelling.  But when Coach Kumin heard it and made clear through gestures that he wanted it stopped, you did.  No cat-calls. No subsequent re-start of the chant.  You showed a nice level of respect.

One message I hope to convey to you today is that people, who you wouldn’t expect, watch you.  They pay attention to you.  They notice what you do (and don’t do).

Sometimes you want that (the girls winning BHS its first track championship in nearly 40 years were certainly happy that people noticed), but other times it just happens.  You may not notice or realize it.  Whether you respect your football coach; serve ice cream at Ranc’s or donuts at Ohlins; or collect Food Pantry donations on Belmont Serves Day, you’ve left an impression.

BHS Class of 2015.  Your friends and family are not the only ones who are proud of you.

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