Board of Ed Chair Tara Ochman’s Speech at DHS 2019 Graduation

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On behalf of the Darien Board of Education, it is my distinct honor to welcome parents/guardians, families, teachers and administrators to this exciting, and ultimate celebration of the Class of 2019. This ceremony and the accomplishments of our graduating seniors are the definitive moment in education for local communities.

We believe school exists for the children. We are here today to celebrate their journey, because, as Mark Twain said “Out of our public schools grows the greatness of a nation.” And, it is our honor to bear witness to this tonight.

Many have nurtured this growth and deserve thanks. To Dr. Landon, who took on the challenge of leading our schools for just one year with the same passion he’s shown districts for decades. He, along with Dr. Susie DaSilva, Shirley Klein, Marge Cion and Michael Feeney kept our student’s interests top of mind and led us forward.

Image from DAF Media video

Board of Education Chairperson Tara Ochman at a lighter moment in her speech at Darien High School’s 2019 graduation ceremony.

To Ellen Dunn, her staff and all of our teachers, who every day and every year work to provide true foundational learning so our students are prepared as critical thinkers, and engaged lifetime learners. Some of you may, or may not, realize how hard that can be second semester senior year.

To you, the parents, families, friends, guardians and loved ones of each student, you have supported these young adults and our schools through votes, volunteerism, eight rounds of final exams, plays, and playoffs. You have dried tears, cheered, clapped, figured out how to get into ASPEN, and possibly had a few arguments along the way, but all because you believed your child could and would. Well, here they are.

Now to you, the class of 2019. Masterful with words, Mark Twain is not just throwing a superlative your way. The “greatness” he references is a challenge, a gift of responsibil-ity and represents the steadfast belief we all have in you and in what you have achieved.

Lyndon Johnson echoed these sentiments, “We have always believed that our people can stand on no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any more hopeful room than the classroom. We blend time and faith and knowledge in our schools — not only to create educated citizens, but also to shape the destiny of this great Republic.”

Tonight, and henceforth, you are those shapers of destiny. You are those whom Mark Twain and President Johnson believed in so ardently as to support public education for all. This commencement, and the diplomas we will confer upon you tonight, signal that you have earned the tools to go out and actively participate in your future.

Recognize that you no longer have to, you choose to.

Maybe you wondered why it mattered what MacBeth’s motives were? Maybe you wanted to tell him to just go get some soap for that annoying damn spot. Maybe you were tired of the algebraic proofs, or the fastidiousness demand by the scientific method?.

Tara Ochman DHS graduation 2019

Image from DAF Media video

Board of Education Chairperson Tara Ochman speaking at Darien High School’s 2019 graduation ceremony.

From this point forward, whatever your next steps: the workforce, college, exploration of the world, you will be asked to be disciplined, to be logical, to be creative and thought-ful. To question what is, and what is not ? (See what Hamlet was on to?)

In this day in age, you will be given information 24/7 and you will be asked to discern the truth from the lies, or slights of hand. To listen to the subtleties in speech, to pay at-tention to the details, to force logic and reason to prevail, and accept those moments when they do not.

And, as life does you will face failures and you will be asked to accept those moments with the same dignity, grace and respect that you embrace your successes.

You can. You will. You will persevere.

You will create, you will connect and collaborate to shape the future of our country and our world. And, you can be full of hope and optimism, because you have earned it.

Your town, your teachers and your loved ones are invested in you and we believe in you.

And so, I close where I began.

The honor tonight is ours. And the future is yours. We hand it to you with confidence and pride.

On behalf of the Darien Board of Education, congratulations to the Class of 2019

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