Congratulations Joanne Megargee - BCASA's Superintendent of the Year!

    

LHS Administration

Edward Bertolini
LHS Principal
(201) 302-5200, ext. 5200
bertolini@leoniaschools.org
Charles Kalender
LHS Vice Principal
(201) 302-5200, ext. 5201
kalender@leoniaschools.org
Adrienne Stein
Director of Student
Services and Testing
(201) 302-5200 ext. 5210
stein@leoniaschools.org 
Steve Perrotta
Athletic Director
(201) 302-5200, ext. 5208
perrotta@leoniaschools.org 

Superintendent's Speech to the LHS Class of 2017!

We are joined tonight by your family and friends, your teachers and administrators, your coaches and your mentors – all who congratulate you on this milestone. You have completed the requirement of public education and are ready to walk through that portal of college, of the military, of the work-force, or for one or two of you - that gap-year. In all those next steps, this family of support will still be asking and expecting much of you.

You are the Leonia High School Class of 2017, a class of academic and athletic achievement, a class that values outstanding community service, and as such, we will expect that you will remain true to yourself, true to those values that you have expounded, and carry those ideals that you fought so hard to achieve, into what drives you to succeed. This family has provided you your base. With love and support and education, this partnership has helped you build the groundwork for your passion, for your career, and for your achievements. You are the generation with the potential to change the world for our children and for your children. You are the generation that could end hunger, eradicate disease, and finally break down those barriers that exist in economics, in gender and in race. There is much work to be done and you must be the delegation of change. Where to start for it might seem a little overwhelming? Let me remind you of some of the essentials that you need to remember as you look to leave your name on the world:

  • Remember, we are always your “home” – a place where we have seen you on your good days and maybe, you’re not so good days. We are here to help, to listen, to guide, and to push you over those rocky steps that, I promise you, will come along. Be prepared to triumph and to sometimes fail – both are strengths, because it is how you celebrate those triumphs, or how you battle back from those failures that form the basis of your character. You will always be a Leonia student, so whether you win a Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar, or a well-deserved promotion, we will tell the world that you were ours, and while, like in any good home, there is a time for you to move out. It helps to know, we will always have your back, you are always welcome to come home and sit a spell.
  • Remember, your parents did know it all. You may not see it now, but I promise you, at some point, you will sound like your parents, you will utter phrases that they use, and eventually you will tell the same stories that they tell. It will be their ultimate “thank-you” and acknowledgment that they did their job well. So I tell you tonight, don’t wait too long to say thank you to them. They have sacrificed and struggled to provide you with the foundation for success – you should acknowledge that sooner rather than later. Time is short, and life moves quickly, – take a moment tonight to thank them.
  • Remember to choose your friends wisely and your life’s work even more carefully. Find a career that you have a passion for and will enjoy every day. Broaden your circle with friends you can be proud of, and find a mission that you can support. Your friendship, your thinking and your time is valuable; do not settle for less in yourself, in your dreams, or in others. 
  • Remember, there is much to learn outside of your comfort zone. When laboring through biology, or finance, or fashion design, choose to take a class out of your major. Try an art history class, a woman’s study class, music, anthropology – how about philosophy. Learn about the British Invasion – it has to do with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, or why Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol, or maybe, learn a new language. It is important to be well educated. Author Daniel H. Pink tells us, “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, story-tellers – creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t”. So I ask you, when was the last time you played Jeopardy?
  • Finally, for good balance of character, remember to sing every day, even if you can’t carry a tune or you don’t know the words. It is good exercise; it is a de-stressor and it makes others smile. Dance, if it helps your song, dance for no reason at all. Forbes Magazine tells us that one of the top skills employers say they seek from job applicants is the ability to communicate with people inside and outside an organization. Music and dance are wonderful bridges across cultures and across generations, and opens the door to conversation and understanding.

You are leaving us tonight. It is bittersweet for this family. We have watched some of you grow since kindergarten, others for only a short time. However long you have been with us, we are so proud of the adults you have become.   Be successful, be happy and most of all, remember Leonia High School with fondness – Go Lions!

Board President S. Abraham (Avri) Ravid

A speech in Leonia High School Graduation,
Dr. S. Abraham Ravid, President, Leonia Board of Education.

First of all congratulations! It is your day and you will remember it many years hence.  Go out and do something memorable!

When my generation graduated from High School both in Israel where I went to school and in this country we were drafted and went to war.

The army is still a very honorable choice and indeed a couple of LHS graduates every year are choosing to serve. But you can also choose to go to College as many of you will, or start your working life.

As President Obama said in his last speech to the UN- in many ways, the world you are about to inherit is the best it has ever been.  Here is a striking statistic from that speech. The percent of people in extreme poverty has gone down from 40% of humanity to less than 10% of humanity more or less during your lifetime.

But that is not all. Headlines not withstanding, “. we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species existence” As Harvard Professor Stephen Pinker put it.

Even in our back yard, New York City has become a thriving safe place for you to visit and enjoy. My daughter is thinking of living in areas which were high crime hubs 30 years ago. Since 1990 murders in New York have gone down by 85% and burglaries are down by a whopping 90%. New York is a different city.

But there are still challenges- horrible dehumanizing wars,  global warming, terrorism and disease, and almost a billion people in deep poverty is still a billion too many. We have done our best – now it is your turn to do something about it which I am sure you will.

And you are uniquely qualified for this.

I have been a proud member of the board for over a decade. Over this time, Leonia High School has become one of the top 3 schools in the county.  Today placing a student at Harvard (congratulations Shivi Aggarwal) and other top schools has become almost routine. The best matched college placements have been a priority for us over the years, and Adrienne Stein Dr. Bertolini and other high school staff members have made it happen- but it is first and foremost about you.

Then there are the teachers. Without the teachers there is nothing. Our part behind the scenes has been to push for a more transparent and collaborative tenure and promotion process and I thank the superintendent and the buildings’ management for their help in that.

And finally we brought back the academies. I voted against taking them away at the time and we enthusiastically supported their return. It is not just the academic and professional education, but I was very impressed with the motivation, the team participation and the hard work by the academy students we met.

So if I am to close with advice- it would be work hard.  When I was your age, I was a high level competitive swimmer. And most of my career has been spent in research institutions. You would think that sports and research require talent. They do. But, I have seen many exceptionally talented people fall behind as the hard workers pushed ahead.

Finally I will tell you as everybody else has told you, follow your dreams.  However the real trick is to choose which dreams to follow and when it is time to amend your dreams. Do not wait tables at age 40 expecting your lucky break into Hollywood. Maybe you can be a terrific teacher. And after the 10th not so great start-up maybe it is time to follow your other passion and become a chef. Or the engineer who will finally fix the New York City Subway system.  Good luck and God bless you.