I’d like to share with you, the message I gave to our Class of 2019 at their Graduation Dinner held last night.
I think I can speak on behalf of your parents, teachers and the whole KDS community when I say that we are all bursting with pride. It sounds like such a cliché but let me take a moment to delineate why.
You are an extraordinary group of individuals who have a vast array of individual talents and passions – you are champions in your own right. But you come together as a group who have made a very significant impact on our School community and on one another. I have been inspired by how you have embraced School life and the genuine and mutual relationships that you have forged among yourselves, and among the staff that hold you so close to their hearts.
You have been actively involved in advocating for issues beyond your immediate selves and have looked for ways to improve your local environment and the wider world. You are also interesting and interested people who have strong values.
Over the years I have watched you grow. I have felt privileged to participate in your milestones. I remember them well. Your move to RMC in 2015, your Expanding Horizons Camp in 2016, your achievements across the Performing Arts and robotics and this year with all the highlights of your last Purim, Yom Haatzmaut, your last day of classes and your last exam.
I have learnt that you are funny, warm, politically minded and sometimes moody. You are clever and open-hearted. You are great people that we are thrilled represent King David.
So I think that you will agree that I have proved objectively and to absolute scientific rigour that you are an exceptional year level.
I want to express my gratitude to your teachers, and indeed to all the staff at our school that have helped to develop you into the outstanding group of young adults that are with us this evening.
Your teachers have ridden every bump with you and have given so much of their time and energy to giving each of you every chance to soar.
I am in awe of the commitment and passion that your teachers have shown you. I ask you all to take a moment to offer them a round of applause.
While we’re applauding, I wish to pay a special thanks to your Head of Senior School, Fred Kok who has done so much both behind the scenes and on a daily basis to ensure your success.
On your and the whole King David community’s behalf I want to thank Lionel Katz for his support and tireless dedication to you and to the VCE years that preceded you. He has made an indelible mark on our school.
I would like to say a special thanks to the organising committee for tonight’s event whose attention to detail has made this occasion so special. Please join me in thanking:
• Shireen Benson
• Steph Boymal
• Naomi Engelander
• Lisa Klepfisz
• Anne Krowitz
• Laura Reyzis
• Lindy Rudski
• Tanya Simon
I also need to take a moment to congratulate the other stars of today’s graduation. The parents and guardians have all given so much for you to be here. On your and my own behalf, I thank them for all they have done for you and for our School.
Class of 2019.
It is fitting today as we are about to send you out into the big world, that I try to bestow upon you some useful words of advice. It is my hope that the lessons you have taken from your experiences, studies and interactions and the values that you have developed at home and at school will set you up for a meaningful and purposeful existence, but perhaps you can also reflect on some of the following.
One of the most impressive commencement speeches I have ever read was that of Australian comic, play-write and performer, Tim Minchin, who spoke to his Alma Mater, the University of Western Australia.
Minchin gave 9 wide ranging tips on how to live a fulfilling life. Some of these I believe are relevant to pass on tonight. Even though we’re all adults here, if you’ve seen any of Tim Minchin’s work you’ll know that I’ve had to edit these for appropriateness. Except for this editing what follows is all from Minchin.
“You Don’t Have To Have A Dream.
Americans on talent shows always talk about their dreams… if it’s a big enough one, it’ll take you most of your life to achieve, so by the time you get to it and are staring into the abyss of the meaninglessness of your achievement, you’ll be almost dead so it won’t matter.”
“I never really had one of these big dreams. And so I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.”
“Don’t Seek Happiness.
If you think about happiness too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect.”
Be Hard On Your Opinions.
We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.
Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.
Define Yourself By What You Love.
We have tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff… But try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.”
Minchin then went on to talk about meaninglessness:
He said “I think it’s absurd: the idea of seeking “meaning” in the set of circumstances that happens to exist after 13.8 billion years worth of unguided events.
There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it…
Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas… being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel… and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing …
It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours.”
So, to the Class of 2019 I say B’hatzlacha and Kadima!