The following letter is expanded from remarks delivered at the Eighth Grade Celebration Ceremony on Wednesday, May 25.
The best-selling album in 1970, the year that I was born, was Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. It would go on, in fact, to become the most popular album in history up to that time, selling about 25 million copies, one of which was purchased by my parents on an 8-track tape. Members of the Class of 2026, if you have never heard of an 8-track tape, ask your parents. Actually, asking your grandparents might be the safer bet.
My own parents loved that Simon & Garfunkel album, and when I was a wee little lad, I heard it almost constantly in the car and in our home, and I learned all the words to all the songs, including Cecilia, Baby Driver, The Boxer, The Only Living Boy in New York, and, of course, the title track, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Hearing the Eighth Grade Choir perform that song earlier today in rehearsal for tonight’s program reminded me of lyrics that I have known for just about as long as I have known anything in this world.
I suppose that the words to Bridge Over Troubled Water have been teaching me all of my life, and I know that they have much to teach me yet—to teach all of us, I think—in our still-troubled world of today. The song is a hymn to the extraordinary capacity and potential of the human heart and mind, as well as a reassurance of love and support in the face of obstacles and challenges. This evening’s ceremony, this gathering in celebration of you, Class of 2026, is no different. It is the same song in a different key. Our congregation here is a hymn to your extraordinary capacity and potential, as well as a reassurance of the love and support of your friends, your teachers, and your families that you can depend on in the face of whatever obstacles and challenges come your way.
Earlier this week I recollected for our Upper School students another hit song of my youth, this one from April 1987: Don’t Dream It’s Over by the Australian band Crowded House. It, too, is an appeal for perseverance and a promise of compassion. The difficult business of living, it sings, can be like trying “to catch the deluge in a paper cup.” Adversity is best endured and overcome not in isolation but in relation, in care and keeping of one another. There is no less emancipation from struggle in the latter than in the former. “There is freedom within,” the song’s opening lyric insists, just as “there is freedom without.” As in Bridge Over Troubled Water, hardship is inevitable, but loneliness does not have to be.
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost,
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me.
Hey now, hey now,
Don’t dream it’s over,
Hey now, hey now,
When the world comes in.
They come, they come
To build a wall between us.
We know they won’t win.
These songs still sing to us—and now we sing to you. Congratulations, Class of 2026, as you conclude your journey through the MICDS Middle School and commence a new journey in the years to come. As your friends in the Eighth Grade Choir will assure you once again this evening, and assure themselves,
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
Oh, if you need a friend,
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will ease your mind.
You’ve got this, eighth grade—soon to be ninth grade—and we’ve got your back. I know you have each other’s back, too. Like a bridge over troubled water.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. What a wonderful school year we have enjoyed together! My best wishes to you and your families for a happy and rejuvenating summer season. See you next year!
Head of School