Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph addresses the Class of 2020 in the school’s first “remote” graduation celebration.

Randolph to Class of 2020: Black Lives Matter at Riverdale

(Editor’s note: Here is the text of Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph’s address to the Class of 2020.)

Welcome to our Celebration of the Class of 2020. We are here on the Hill Campus today to honor the class with some live-streamed speeches and introductions of a number of pre-recorded segments. We hope that you enjoy this celebration and participate actively in the Zoom call so you can all see each other and share reactions.  

Before I start this ceremony, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on our city, our nation, and our world right now since this is a moment for us to be thoughtful and unified, for us to fight against injustice and be in solidarity with those who have been affected by the loss of life, loss of freedom, and loss of health. We all need to support each other at this difficult time. I hope we can take a moment to remember the over 110,000 people who have lost their lives due to the pandemic and George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and too many other people who have lost their lives senselessly in recent years. I join our Black students, families, faculty, and staff in grieving. Black lives matter; they certainly matter at Riverdale. I hope that we can all remember these lost souls with a moment of silence.

As I said the other day, graduation ceremonies are both sad and hopeful. Now we shift to hope.

On this day, I feel gratitude. I feel gratitude for you all. I feel gratitude that we are all together. I feel gratitude for the Riverdale community. As relationships around the world between people, countries and cultures are fraying, the Riverdale community is ever strong but also humble in its strength since we still have much work to do.

Gratitude is one of the most effective character strengths that can be used to make you feel better about yourself, but also that you can use to make everyone else feel better. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude. I want to thank all of the people who have had to keep on working to make sure we are safe and that our needs have been taken care of during the last few months. I am grateful to live in a community that is outraged by the attacks on people of color and will not countenance this ongoing injustice. I want to thank everyone gathered here for their grace, patience, and generosity during these difficult times. I want to thank your parents and families for entrusting you to us. That gift has filled many of our lives so wholly. I want to thank all the faculty, staff, and administrators who have worked to have you learn, grow, and belong here at Riverdale. I want to thank the Communications team for figuring out how to celebrate this day. Just remember that many of the videos you see today we started recording a good number of weeks ago so they may not be reflective of recent events.

Finally, I want to thank KNF and Cat Crocker for being such great colleagues and for shepherding you all through this period of your lives. Years from now some of you will think, should I reach out to someone that made a difference in my life and tell them how much they mattered? What I would ask you is to not postpone that desire to express gratitude but to do it immediately. It will make you feel better, but it will mean everything to these amazing educators and humans. Gratitudeā€¦it is what makes humans special. Gratitude makes us whole. I want to say hello to the Zoom audience. So I also want to express my gratitude to you all, the amazing class of 2020 for your dynamism, inventiveness, care, athletic grace, intellectual power, your desire for justice, your humor, your good sense, your lack of sense, your successes and failures, and your perseverance to help make things better. As I said the other day, thank you for being a good teacher to us all and letting us help you as you have helped us…I share an immense sense of gratitude with you today. Thank you.