Three high school graduates, one college graduate, two more college graduations to go and I can’t forget graduate school

joshJosh graduated from high school yesterday.  In many ways the actual ceremony is anti-climatic. Yet over the last few months there is no doubt that Josh realizes that he is leaving the first chapter of his first 18 years and moving on to the next.  Over the last week we have seen the senior projects at the school, been to the senior family dinner and graduation.   It is our third time around attending these events with different families and kids but the culture of the school is what really stands out.

The seniors made a movie that we got to watch at the dinner.  Everyone from the class was in it.  They talked about how glad they were to finish high school and move on to the next stage of their life, they talked about the friends that they made there.  What was the most interesting part of the movie is that they asked each student to describe the school in a few words.  The one word that pretty much every student used was diversity.  Diversity runs deep at every turn.  Black, hispanic, trans-gender, gay, straight, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, scientists, mathematicians, movie makers, choreographers, musicians and artists.  There is someone literally from every walk of life.  It is a true microcosm of NYC.  It is a rare place. The school designates 25% of its operating budget to financial aid so that accounts for a whole other level of financial diversity.  The school celebrates each student for who they are, pushes them to ask questions and challenge authority and more important makes each student feel no matter who they are that they are unique, amazing and important. Our kids each had different experiences there as they should.  It is a place that I am pretty sure they will never find or experience again.

At graduation each year, the class picks a teacher to speak about them on their behalf.  This year they chose the art teacher who began his high school teaching career with this class.  The first time he taught in the school was when some of these kids were in 5th grade so in many ways he grew up with all of them.  He gave the class some words of wisdom that I thought were spot on. You should have a plan but be open to change and embrace happy accidents.  He also said to put yourself in uncomfortable places.  You can’t grow unless you push yourself into places that are not comfortable.  As someone who spends all day with entrepreneurs I can attest to the fact that the best entrepreneurs do both of those things.  They embrace change and they push themselves into areas that they never thought they would go.

We celebrated the day at a dinner party with Josh’s side kick, Max who has been in his life from the time he was in kindergarten and his family.  I am almost as proud of Max as I am of Josh as he has been a constant in our lives and our family as far I can remember.  I am quite confident he will always be a part of Josh’s life and ours.  It was a real celebration.  Bittersweet on one hand but victorious on the other.  A time to reflect and a time to get excited about the next stage of our life.

Bravo to the graduating class of 2014.   And yes that is a picture of Josh, the last graduate (Wilson), taking a selfie of himself before walking off the stage.  A huge milestone.