The Carlisle 2014-15 school year began this morning in Martinsville with the traditional fife and bagpipes procession, as the seniors in the Class of 2015 took their places on stage with the first grade Class of 2026. After students opened the assembly, SCA President Dyer Pace welcomed the students with a stirring tribute to his school. I followed, meekly, with the following. The words are not as eloquent as Dyer’s , but I hope they generated a little enthusissm for the coming school year.
The first graders sitting here on stage will graduate in 2026. Assuming that a four-year bachelors degree is still the next step — and that may be a bold assumption — this group will hit the work force in 2030. They will reach the apex of their work careers in the 2040s and 2050s. Futurists tell us that a good percentage of the jobs our Upper School students will take don’t even exist today. Who knows what jobs await our Class of 2026??
But here’s what we DO know: if we can help our students develop leadership skills, they will always be able to serve their communities. You will hear us talk a lot about teaching leadership in this year and the years ahead. It’s a big part of the school’s strategic plan that will be unveiled in the coming months. Not every one of you can make straight As. Not every one of you can throw a baseball 95 mph or score three goals in every hockey match. And not every one of you can sing on the stages of Broadway. But each and every one of you can be a leader. There are many ways to lead — not all of you will lead the same way. But we can — at least — teach you how to reach inside yourself to inspire others.
And now I turn back to our Class of 2015, because they play such a significant role in this effort. I tell seniors every year what I am telling you now: that the success of the school session rests in your hands. You will set the tone. Everyone will be watching you — in the halls, in the lunchroom, in the classroom, on the athletic field, here on the stage — and they will follow your example. Often, just because you do something, a younger student will. Please use your power for good, and make 2014-15 your best year ever. If you do that, if you give this school community your strongest effort . . . Carlisle will have a spectacular year.