NFA Class of '21 President Jareth Tosses
To all the members of the Norwich Free Academy Class of 2021 -- Congratulations!
This ceremony honors the exemplary students at NFA, and you should be extremely proud of yourselves and your accomplishments. You have persevered in such isolating and trying times through COVID-19, and these awards bestowed upon you reflect the defining characteristics that we, as a class, want reflected in our society.
Do not take your recognition lightly. Instead, reflect upon the sacrifice and humility required to get where you are today. I challenge you to expand your perceptions of the world around you, broaden your perspective and begin to empathize with others points of view.
I am asking for each and every one of us to be able to question ourselves and recognize the queries and critiques of others as an opportunity for growth, rather than an attack. By recognizing change is inevitable, we can become a more just world.
Belief that we can achieve something gets us through hardship, and passion keeps us focused on our goals. It requires self consciousness. It takes the work and perseverance that you have shown. It takes the self confidence and support you have been able to maintain. It takes the self awareness that our position on this earth is not one of dominance, but one of preservation.
I ask that you highlight the strength and confidence that has gotten you this far to propel that through the rest of your life and through the challenges you will face. We are tasked with the responsibility of improving the world we live in and reinforcing the values and morals we speak so highly of but continue to neglect in practice.
Not only do I encourage you to make the world a better place, but expect and believe that it is possible. We must put effort and focus into improving our lives and the way we perceive the world around us.
Each of you has the potential to change how you view the world and approach any problem you face. Our narratives and our realities may be different, but if we continue to allow disrespect and invalidation of other’s views dictate our relationships, then we will fall deeper into a perpetual cycle of inequality.
Until we are able to have open discussions relating to our government, communities and challenges that face us in constructive and focused manners, we cannot, as a nation -- as a community -- begin to solve the issues that threaten our well being. It requires perspective and an open mind.
As the most cooperative species on land, our longevity is rooted in cooperation. Polarization is not solved through being steadfast in your position, but by being confident in your view, as it is in fact valuable, but also feeling secure enough to change your point of view and see other perspectives.
We must not dismiss people’s experiences and realities, because the moment we feel that what we have to say is invaluable, we lose purpose and passion.
It is our duty to validate and incorporate each other into our lives and into our focus. I believe we will be the generation to make the change. We have to. We must continue to strive for success in our personal, academic and professional lives without losing sight of the goals we are working towards in our communities and for society overall.
Continue to do so while representing NFA and doing what is best for the wellbeing of ourselves and our communities
As Maya Angelous said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Jareth Tosses is the President of the Class of 2021. This speech was delivered during the Class Night Awards ceremony.
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