MONROE, CT — Families packed the bleachers of Masuk High School’s Benedict Stadium Field Monday evening to watch 194 Jockey Hollow eighth-graders and STEM Academy students graduate under a bright sun.
Jockey Hollow Middle School Principal Michael Crowley reminded students of the Lion mascot and their school’s core values of “Respect, Responsibility and Safety.”
While recognizing the power of group structures, Crowley asked the graduates not to be defined by their groups, saying that viewing others as different or not belonging will deprive them of enrichment.
“Remember, the world is wide and the more you experience, the happier you will be,” he said.
Olivia Cusa and Grace Kearney, two STEM Academy students, took to the podium to give a speech together.
“Other than memorizing equations, we learned skills that we will carry throughout our entire lives,” Cusa said. “This year especially, we learned how to respect each other as people, whether it was wearing a mask or wearing an ugly outfit to school.”
“Our school experiences have given us endless opportunities and the privilege to explore our interests and take them to the next level,” Kearney said.
The young women said their school taught them how to strengthen their community, and spoke of the excitement of heading to high school, though they will miss their dedicated teachers.
Kearney and Cusa expressed their gratitude for classmates who made their middle school experience special, and for supportive families who helped them along the way.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza told the fictional story of “the dumbest kid in the world.”
A barber told a customer that the 14-year-old boy standing outside his shop is the dumbest kid in the world. “Watch, I’ll prove it to you.”
He calls the boy and holds up a one dollar bill and a five dollar bill. The boy takes the one dollar bill and leaves the shop.
“See?” laughs the barber, “the dumbest kid in the world. He takes the one dollar bill every time.”
A few minutes later, the customer happens to see the boy walk out of an ice cream store. “If you don’t mind my asking, why didn’t you take the five dollar bill?” he asks the boy.
The boy takes a lick of his ice cream cone and replies, “because the day I take the five dollar bill, the game is over.”
Kobza said the moral of the story is the power of delayed gratification, postponing an immediate gain in favor of a greater and later reward.
The superintendent noted how we live in a society of seemingly never ending content on social media, Amazon packages that appear on your doorstep within hours of ordering them, and Uber Eats delivering meals to your home.
“If you want something today, access has never been faster and easier,” Kobza said. “While some of these are fine and represent the convenience of living in the 21st Century, I encourage you, like the boy in the story, to avoid the immediate gain for the greater, later reward.”
“You will find that the greatest intellects, athletes, artists, musicians, performers, what have you, did not achieve their success by taking shortcuts and looking for the easy way out,” he continued. “They worked diligently on their craft, one day at a time, for years on end in some cases. That’s how true greatness is achieved.”
Kobza said those who will go to Masuk next fall will learn its core values of passion, respect, responsibility and perseverance.
“It’s that last core value, perseverance, that gets to the heart of delayed gratification,” he said. “Perseverance speaks to your ability to demonstrate grit and tenacity to keep working in the face of adversity. Perseverance is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.”
“For the 2022 eighth Class of Jockey Hollow, I say discover your passions and be extraordinary,” Kobza said. “I’ll look forward to watching you continue on your path to greatness. Congratulations.”