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From The Head’s Desk

COMMENCEMENT REMARKS 2024

Recently, on the senior trip, two seniors I admire asked me, without a shred of snark or irony, what I actually do. Specifically. Honestly, it was a sweet question. What made this even more humorous was the fact that the six or eight seniors within earshot all stopped to listen; “Wait, what does Schubach do”? For a moment, it was like the scene from Office Space when the two consultants, Bob and Bob, ask people, “What, specifically, would you say you do here?” For the record, I gave a thorough but very boring answer, something akin to “I do TPS reports.” Seniors, if you haven’t seen Office Space, it is ok, this is a joke for your parents—even though this is your graduation, not everything’s about you, ok?

I am only kidding—this is your graduation, and my brief remarks are about you. Now that I’m much warmer and better hydrated, I can be more articulate about what I – and we – do at Santa Fe Prep. I wish I had had the presence of mind to say that – with my colleagues – I aspire to change the world by sending forth amazing people with broad educations and strong values. Change the world? I am pretty sure that sounds like delusions of grandeur from a principal at a small school. But it’s true. Here at Santa Fe Prep, we believe that education is more than just skill building in order to achieve success in a given field; we believe that by expanding your capacities, not only is your life made immeasurably better, we expand the capacities of the communities you will join.

By the way, I also wish I would have had the presence of mind to say that the faculty and staff of Prep choose our jobs because we get to work, laugh, and celebrate with you, today’s graduates, and your younger peers. Schools are symbiotic organisms, we will pour our knowledge and talents into you and in return, you inspire us, make us laugh, and keep us up to date on the Kendrick/Drake beef. I mean, when is Drake going to fire back? Should someone check to see if he is ok? By the way, parents, that was a joke for the seniors. It turns out that not everything is about you. Seniors, while we are on this subject, what were the things you wanted me to mention in my speech? Wow. Awkwardly, I don’t always understand what you’re talking about.

Here’s why I think I am not delusional about changing the world—education creates personal transformations. In fact, it’s the only thing that does. Think of it like this: your mind is the one thing you cannot escape – a house where you live either in squalor or luxury – solitary confinement or community. Learning new ways of being and thinking are the only ways you can redecorate, add square footage, let fresh air in, or create a new and better view. When we learn more about the human condition through literature and when science helps us see beyond the surface of the physical world, we are able to temporarily escape the naive confines of our cloistered minds. This is why I believe that no matter what you do, spending time each day with a favorite thinker or writer is as important as learning the technical details of your field.

While I wasn’t lucky enough to attend a school like Santa Fe Prep, my education is what gives me the ability to choose ideas and values from a broad menu of options, and it is a key component of my mental health. For example, when I read Albert Camus, I was inspired by his physical and philosophical resistance to totalitarianism. James Baldwin’s articulation of moral dignity in the face of systemic racism enlarges my world. Graduates, I know you have your own intellectual heroes. Authors and artists infuse us with their intelligence and strength, and our prosaic challenges return to an appropriate sense of scale in their presence. On that note—it was a true pleasure to hear your voices at baccalaureate last night. Thank you for sharing what’s important to you.

We’ve all read the research about the decline of the English major due to its so-called impracticality, but I would argue that a thorough liberal arts education is both essential to your mental wellbeing and infinitely practical. The class of 2024 is highly academically distinguished – today, we send forth quantitatively skilled humanities majors and future engineers with excellent writing skills. No matter what major or career you choose, there is a practical benefit to the breadth of your education: you’ll stand out in interviews, you’ll be able to synthesize ideas, and you’ll help the teams you work on be more strategic and more equitable.

These personal transformations have a cumulative effect. Today, you graduate and go on to larger stages; each of you will be an asset to your new schools and the organizations lucky enough to have you.

If all this talk about making the world a better place sounds like too heavy a burden to bear, please know the most important way you can impact the world is by spreading the joy you’ve shared with us.

Graduates, I offer you my deepest congratulations for all that you’ve achieved and your immensely positive effect on Santa Fe Prep. As you find your new communities and intellectual challenges, please remember that the faculty and I admire and trust in your future work (even if you cannot explain it). Congratulations, and well done.