PRESENTATION TO SALEM HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATING CLASS OF 2017 AND ALUMNI
MAY 20, 2017
HELEN POTTER HAYES '57
I want to tell you this would be easier if I had a blackboard behind me and piece of chalk in my hand. But when I think about it I know that's really passé because I know your teachers use white boards and markers, right?
So that shows how long ago this all was. So hello to the graduating class of 2017, and to all the other very familiar faces I see in front of me! Students I know, and students I remember. Students who I get their voices, and students who I get their faces. It's good to see you all. I am so happy that most of my family is here with me tonight: my husband Charlie, my children, all SHS grads, Heidimarie, class of 79 who has come from San Francisco, Chad, class of 88, and his wife, Geovy and daughter Julie from Chicago. But David, my class of 82 guy, who lives in Pittsburgh had knee surgery Thursday, and when he told me was going to do that I said, "Oh, David!" He said, "Don't worry, I'll be there." Well the knee thought otherwise. But his wife, Stephanie, and grandson Zach and his friend Anna, and Nick from Pittsburgh are all here. We are only missing Heidiemarie's son Michael who had commitments in California and could not join us. I should tell you though, he's graduating Saturday so Tuesday I'm off California. I'm delighted to see so many of my classmates here. I just don't know how so such young people could be celebrating their sixtieth reunion.
I am a mathematician, a numbers person! And I seem to have a thing about 7’s!!! I graduated from SHS in 1957, married in 1967, retired from SHS in 1997 as a mathematics teacher after 30 years of teaching here and a year teaching out the road and some substituting! But just a few short months later I started my next career as office coordinator for the Salem High School Alumni Association. Perfect Job!
And here it is 2017!
How things CHANGE over 60 years! Just think, the year I retired from teaching, 1997, this graduating class, smart, talented students, athletes, musicians, writers, artists, were not even born yet! Don’t think that didn’t bring me up short!!!
A Lesson Plan for Life
But once a teacher always a teacher. I always think in terms of a lesson plan, which has very structured parts to it. A lesson plan helps teachers organize their thoughts because after all, there is an appropriate order to the way we do things…just as there is an order of operations in mathematics.
The first part of a lesson plan is to help the student review the foundational material for the new lesson. In the lesson plan of life, that has been the 3 R’s…reading, writing and “R”ithmetic! But we know that the 3 R’s are only the basics for today’s life. We all have more skills to learn.
In the second part of the lesson plan, the teacher introduces the new material. In the lesson plan of life, the new material is in large part Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or what we now call STEM. Reading through the educational plans of the SHS Class of 2017, I believe these students have taken to heart the educational requirements of the 21st Century! In my own family I see this in Zach who has completed a bachelor’s degree in surveying and mapping, Michael who has completed degrees in math and physics, and Nick with one year to go to a bachelor’s in civil engineering! But not that the arts—music, visual art, languages, history and literature—are not important…they certainly are! I see Julie, with her beautiful singing voice and growing interest in mathematics, showing us why STEM has now embraced the arts and become STEAM, of course. The arts give the mind the memory of humanity, the empathy and understanding of relationships, and much more.
But back to the lesson plan.
Then, to give students an opportunity to practice and extend their learning, a teacher often concludes her lesson by assigning homework. I know you are thinking, Boy I can hear some of you now. I can hear your internal groans. You are asking yourself, "Is Mrs. Hayes really going to give us homework?” The answer is yes, because in the lesson plan of life, homework really is the development of the 4C’s: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and compassion.
So: Here is my homework for this class of 2017!
Here’s a fun piece of history: Our organization was founded in June of 1882, as we've already said tonight, at a meeting of graduates called to form an alumni association. At the 1902 reunion, a toast was given by Mrs. (F. J.) Mullins, (There's that name again, we should all be familiar with it!) which started the members thinking that an organization of nearly 400 members should have a constructive program for some good work, although good times were allowed also! By 1907 a $1,000 bond was purchased and in 1908 the income from this bond, $60, was given to Walter French, SHS Class of 1908!
Since that year, 1908, the association has awarded over $6.5 million, But what is really amazing is that almost half of that total has been awarded in the last 10 years!
Only with all of us working together will we be able to support the future graduates of Salem High School in the way we have supported you as you graduate.