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Graduation speaker blues

Stuyvesant High School, my alma mater, will be celebrating its centennial in 2004. Apparently, there’s a minor kerfuffle brewing over who the commencement speaker for the Class of 2004 should be.

Class leaders have panned the idea of asking the leader of the free world to speak at their commencement ceremony next June. Although former President Bill Clinton addressed the 2002 graduating class, many students at Stuyvesant said the current President is all wrong for the storied school’s centennial graduation.

“He’s not an eloquent speaker. Students want an inspirational speaker,” said Sophia Mokotoff, 17, vice president of the senior class for 2004. “Students feel he wouldn’t provide the inspiration.”

Michael Cho, senior class president, said he thinks a Bush speech would detract from the pomp and circumstance. “We understand the President brings a lot of prestige and media coverage,” Cho said. “He would overshadow our graduation. It wouldn’t be about the students.”

Please, please, please, don’t let some NRO writer get into a snit about this and write 5000 words on the subject. That’s all I ask.

For what it’s worth, the commencement speaker for the Class of 1984 was then-Mayor Ed Koch. I don’t remember at all what he spoke about. I was in the band, which meant I was onstage, behind the dais (our commencement was at Avery Fisher Hall), which also meant there was a lot of temptation to goof around during the speech. We played the “Grand March” from Aida as the processional. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but you know how I get when I start reminiscing.

Anyways, no one has been formally invited to speak yet, so this may be the usual hubbub about nada. I was just amused to see a reference to Stuy in Salon.

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7 Comments

  1. William Hughes says:

    Supposedly, the student government was ordered by principal Stanley Teitel to ask President Bush to speak at the 2004 commencement. This appears to be pitting the administration against some of the student body and their parents.

    If you think about it, President Bush would use the speech as part of his reelection campaign rather than try to inspire the graduates. The biggest problem he would face is the general apathy torwards the speech and the general liberal attitude of New York City parents.

    Since 2004 is the centennial class, perhaps one of the more famous members of the alumni should give the speech. Since the most famous living graduate is Lucy Liu (1986), that would leave one of the Nobel Prize winners as a possibility. For a math and science school, that is a far more appropriate choice.

  2. elizabeth says:

    You know, I’m gonna have to check, but I think my Dad went to Stuyvesant HS.

    How cool is that?

  3. Mike Thomas says:

    President Bush the Elder spoke at my college graduation from Texas A&M back in 1989 and even though I didn’t vote for him I thought it was pretty neat. As I recall, Bush used the occasion to make some new policy pronouncment concerning China that made national headlines the next day, but was completely forgotten within a week.
    I think for a high school graduation having a sitting president to speak would be pretty special, even if he did come in second in the popular vote.

  4. For the record, I do think that Bush would use this opportunity to make a campaign speech, especially since the GOP is talking about contesting NY in 2004. If so, then I’d strongly oppose inviting him – or any other actively campaigning politician – to speak. I agree with the kid who says that this should be about the graduates, and not the speaker.

    And Elizabeth, if true that is cool. 🙂

  5. julia says:

    Hey, you were a freshman when I was a senior.

    Stuyvesant graduation speakers are often less than inspiring, but I can’t imagine a hall full of Stuy students sitting still for Bush.

    I was watching TV in the student union the day Reagan was shot, and when Haig got on and said he was in charge, about 11 people said, simultaneously, no he’s not.

    Then we had a fine time working out the succession from memory.

    Hell, if it weren’t that I was so pleased that he’s not going to be speaking, I’d almost wish he were.

  6. Robert Rosen says:

    I will be there !!! I was also there to see President Clinton when Schumer’ daughter. I not Al Gore or even Bill Gates have some firsts like E-Commerce,E-Mail and much more.