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grad speech


(Please click the image to blow up the article and read. If it’s too cumbersome, let me know and I’ll type it out.) 

I gave this speech on June 24, 1994 at Kodak’s Theater on the Ridge.

I’m not sure I could have given a different speech, though 20 years later, there are some things I wish I could add. I would add that the experiences we had were not the fault of individuals running our schools, but a broken system. I would add that I had some wonderful teachers; I didn’t score highly on my Regents and AP exams without their support. I would have said thank you to my parents.

My teenage self was talking about educational inequality, though there was much about it I had yet to learn. I knew something wasn’t right about my school. Watching so much human potential go unrealized remains a very painful memory.

What would 17-year-olds say today?


Links of the Day:


– A couple other things I wrote about my RCSD experience: Meeting a student who got shot at school years later and reconnecting with a classmate who went to prison.

– Can Buffalo and New York state afford a new stadium for the Bills? Is it even worth talking about, with future ownership in limbo?

– Rochester’s port development is very complex – and expensive. RG&E is trying to figure out how and where to build a $2 million gas pipeline to the port.

– Was your utility bill super high this month? Join the club.

– New York-based Remington Arms is opening a factory. In Alabama.

– What role does marijuana play in road fatalities? Seems a lot more research is needed.

– Does cutting the cord save money? Comcast doesn’t want it to. Meanwhile, cable TV prices have gone up twice the rate of inflation annually for the past 17 years.

4 Responses to What I Said 20 Years Ago

  1. February 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    I worked at Marshall for 2 years ’84&’85 it is a truly beautiful building. One can feel the history in it. But it was a fairly dangerous place to work. The open lunch program destroyed Dewey ave. from Ridgeway to Avis street. Now it is all a Ghetto. very sad.

  2. February 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm Anonymous responds:

    If the bills are going to get a new stadium, perhaps they should build it near a thruway exit in Rochester, NY and re-brand it as a regional team like the New England Patriots. It would be accessible to 3 NYS metropolitan areas of 3 million residents and would be the fair thing to do if taxpayers from across the state are going to subsidize a new stadium.

    On top of that the NFL doesn’t need to worry about competition from the Canadian Football League.

  3. What actually is “educational inequality”? Every school I know has a building, has a curriculum, has teachers, and has students. As for money, I can only base my comments on per pupil spending which is listed in the newspaper. They all seem pretty equal among all schools in our region. So what leads to the statement of inequality? Are the teachers less than they should be in some schools and not others? In your articles you mentioned a number of classmates. Which means they had the same teachers and school environment as you did. So what special treatment did the school provide to you that your classmates that seemed to go astray did not receive? Why have you appeared to have succeeded in life if you went to the same school. I think there isn’t any one answer….or somebody would have figured it out by now. The general answer is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In applying this concept to humans, you can give people guidance, but you really have little control over if they will follow your teachings. What has happened over the years is that in trying to “help” the “poor”, government has created a generation dependent on this “help”. There is no magical formula or government program that will change this. There needs to be a change in attitude by just about everyone. Bad deeds need to be publicly scorned. No more excuses. Being “poor” does not mean you don’t have to go to school. Being poor does not mean you don’t have to keep your homes and living conditions clean. Being poor does not mean you cant do homework with your children. Being poor does not mean you cant watch them and have them in the house when it is dark. All simple thinks that don’t cost a cent. Just my thoughts….I graduated from a city high school.

  4. Rachel,

    I graduated from Marshall in 1960. The teachers all dressed very nice.
    Principle, VP and counselors all wore suits. We were taught respect, and
    were prepared for life after graduation. I went back a few years ago to
    record the Marshall Steel Band and could not believe how bad the
    school had become! One thing I noticed was the embedded Military Recruiting office.
    Not sure this is a good thing.

    BTY: You are the best Reporter Rochester has had in a long time.
    Keep it up.


    Dave Kaspersin
    Dynamic Recording Studio

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