Valediction by Dean of Students Ken Schneck

When I was asked to deliver this Valediction, I felt honored, I felt humbled and I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to say just the right thing with these last words you will hear at your commencement. I want to leave you with something truly notable, echoing some sort of world-renowned speech that you will remember for all your days to come. As I struggled with the task, I assumed the Lotus position, took a few deep breaths, went inside myself, visualized the right set of words and called my mother for help.

“Mom, I really need to come up with something good to say.”

Without missing a beat she replied, “Oh! You should read that poem you wrote right before your Bar Mitzvah!”

“Um…what?” I asked.

“That poem!” she insisted. “I love that poem.”

“Mom, I really wanted something a little more notable…more award-winning.”

“Did you or did you not win the 7th Grade Creative Writing Award with that poem?” she asked.

“Ok, Mom. Thanks for your help.”

“I love that poem,” she concluded.

“Right. Thanks, Mom.”

I got off the phone a little annoyed that she would come up with something so inappropriate to this occasion, so sophomoric in its execution, so off-beat that she would think that my 7th-grade poem should usher you through this huge transition.

“Why?” By Kenny Schneck, February 7, 1990.

Sometimes I often wonder,
About the lighting and the thunder.
About the moon above the sky,
And the soft clouds rolling by.
I wonder if they’re just in my mind,
Or if I look then I will find,
That I’m awed by all I feel,
Because everything is real.
So if you’re sad someday,
Or your mind is in dismay,
Or your friends are mad some way,
Just look up at the sky,
See the soft clouds rolling by,
And just sit and wonder…why?

May you go forth wondering, may you go forth questioning and may you go forth knowing that a call home might be all you need.