Student Body President Vincent Scauzzo kicked off Opening Day with this speech announcing compassion as the virtue of the year and encouraging fellow students to focus on learning, growing, and making new friends.
Good morning, everybody!
It is a lovely day, isn't it? There is tangible excitement in this room--I know it. My name is Vincent Scauzzo, I'm your president this year, and this is my 13th year at this school. Thirteen years! All that time and you know what? There's never been a dull day. Along with the other seniors in the front row, this is my last opening day. I remember when Dr. Cox would greet the little kids walking in, and now Dr. Nagl does the same. Yes, this is a special day.
I hope your summer was filled with time spent with family and friends, travelling, trying new things, loving old things, and a little bit of mental growth. Maybe you had a summer job that taught you about saving money. Maybe you read a book that showed you a new perspective or told you a story that was meaningful. Maybe you tried not to do too much to make it last longer. Or maybe you just watched a lot of Phillies games like me--that certainly made it last long.
Welcome, all new kids! Congratulations: you made the right decision to attend. I can assure you that you will make many genuine friends here who will stand by your side no matter what. Whether you're on the recess field or taking a biology test, everyone in this place has your back.
I have a very good feeling about this year, gentlemen. This is going to be the year of the student. Teachers and parents and townspeople are going to be amazed by the young men in this building, for you will all do great things. You will be taught by some of the finest instructors and leaders in the country and will become well-rounded, intelligent individuals.
This is going to be the year of the student. Teachers and parents and townspeople are going to be amazed by the young men in this building, for you will all do great things. You will be taught by some of the finest instructors and leaders in the country and will become well-rounded, intelligent individuals.
During the summer, Dr. Nagl and I met to talk about this year. What should our goals be? How do we want to be remembered? And most importantly, what should the virtue be? Over many pancakes and eggs and toast, and after much conversation, we decided on compassion. We wanted to pick something that is not only applicable to this school, but something that you can take with you into the real world.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out things are not well out there. You young guys up front might hear your parents talking about things they watch on the news, but hopefully not too much, and I know my guys in the Upper School are very aware on their own. Because it is so present out there, hatred and anger have the capability to seep in through our walls and ceilings like a fungus. It is our job to tolerate none of it--to exterminate the bad and bring out the good.
Now I know some of you might not understand what it means to be compassionate. It's more than sympathy or empathy, though it does involve those traits. Compassion is about being genuine. Taking the time to say "Hi, how are you?" and mean it. To listen to the answer and be engaged. Even a smile can go a long way for someone, if it's a genuine smile. And if you help other people and try to make their day, then they'll hopefully go around and try to make other people happy by showing them compassion. And eventually, it will come back to you, and then you'll be happy.
It is this idea of engagement that I hope to see throughout the school this year and expect from my peers in the senior class. This will not be the last time we all meet with each other--I plan on having Upper Schoolers be more present than ever before in the Lower and Middle schools. This is The Haverford School after all, not Haverford Middle or Haverford High: we are all one. I should know, I've been a part of it forever.
Compassion is about being genuine. Taking the time to say "Hi, how are you?" and mean it. To listen to the answer and be engaged. Even a smile can go a long way for someone, if it's a genuine smile. And if you help other people and try to make their day, then they'll hopefully go around and try to make other people happy by showing them compassion.
In the same way that you should expect leaders and role models from the upperclassmen, I expect nothing but the best from the young guys. What does that mean? It means trying new things, being open-minded, and welcoming change. For you guys in the front row, that means when your parents put a new plate of vegetables in front of you, try it first before you push it away. For everyone else, that means: make a friend, join a team, join a club, sing, be a leader, explore areas of study--go to museums, ask questions about anything! Every kid sitting in the back in those bleachers has been where you are and has felt how you feel. And everyone here wants to see you succeed, so get out there and explore.
Gentlemen, this school has given so much to me over the years. I like to think that this is my way of giving back, at least until I'm really able to contribute by donating to the capital campaign (and for the parents who are in here, get on that.)
I do have one more request from you. November 9--what happens on that day? It’s EA Day. Gentlemen, it is the top priority that we win on EA Day. I'm happy to report that we look very strong, but as we are away this year, every athlete on every team will need the house packed for their events, so on that date with destiny, over in the rolling hills of Newtown Square, let the mere peeps of the churchmice of EA be drowned out by the bellowing roar of you fine men of The Haverford School.
So remember, be compassionate--care about others and be genuine, and don't forget to smile. And as always, EA must be defeated.