In just 4 minutes I hope to teach the class of 2015 just 2 more lessons before they take their leave of these hallowed halls.
1. First Lesson: You, our graduates, didn’t build the Staten Island Academy that you came to and it’s your responsibility to build the next Staten Island Academy.
Personal Story: When I first came to Staten Island Academy 50 years ago, I attended my 6th grade classes in the old Stettinius Mansion that used to be just behind where we are today on the footprint of Crowe Hall. I didn’t build that building, my parents didn’t build it. It was built by others, but it was there for me and for my parents when we needed it. The following year I attended classes in the old Wall Street building in St. George. I didn’t build it—my parents didn’t build it. But it was there when we needed it. Both of those buildings are gone now. And at some point in the future—perhaps another 50 years?--the school buildings you sat in here may no longer be here. It is your moral responsibility to build the next Staten Island Academy, so that in the future when students and their parents need this place, SIA will still be here for them—as it was for you in your time of need.
2. Now if you’ve been trained well here, if you have learned critical thinking, you will question my assertion. You’ll ask further: “Why is it our responsibility?”
Personal Story: For those of you who carefully perused your commencement program, you saw that my daughter Emma has a somewhat strange middle name: Aubin. It is not a familiar first name. It is not a family name associated with my family or my wife’s family. That’s because I named my first child after Robert and Elizabeth Aubin—two of my teachers at Staten Island Academy when I was here so long ago. They had both passed away many years before Emma was born. But I felt --and still feel-- that I have a debt to them that I will never be able to re-pay.
Your families and loved ones helped bring you here today and deserve much credit. But right now, Class of 2015, I want you to look at the faculty of Staten Island Academy—to those people at the very heart of this institution—to those people to whom you owe a debt that you will never be able to repay and so you will try to do so in your own meagre way by supporting the school in the future with your time, your money, and your talents. God bless the members of the faculty of Staten Island Academy—past and present. Because they have given you the ticket to your future—the ticket to the rest of your life. And it’s a first-class seat!
- Daniel L. Master, Jr. ’71