Rocky Hill speaker: What you learn may end up being wrong


“Live an interesting life. I could say happy or successful, but that’s not what I mean. Live an interesting life.”

Richard Saul Wurman, an international scholar most known for the creation of Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences, offered this advice to the graduating students at Rocky Hill’s commencement ceremony on June 6. He said he does something interesting every day; he doesn’t do this on purpose, but rather that is just the way things turn out because everything can be interesting.

He told the graduates everything he had ever learned in school turned out to be wrong. Time and science had changed the world in which he lived and truths became falsehoods while impossibilities became realities. He noted that we had once believed there were nine planets in the universe, it was believed that the giant squid was only a myth.

Wurman said, “Everything you have ever learned could be wrong if you take it absolutely. It is true for this moment.”

He reminded students that we live in an ever-changing world and that they should be open to these new possibilities, the new truths in the future that learning is interesting.

“I dare you to try and find a better definition of learning than this,” Wurman prompted, “Learning is remembering what you are interested in.”

He ended his commencement speech by imploring the students again to live an interesting life.

Rocky Hill was gifted to have a beautiful morning for commencement. The sun provided a comfortable 75 degrees for the outdoor ceremony on the Hopelands lawn.

Peter Branch, head of Rocky Hill School, joked that the weather was “applause from mother nature herself for this class.”

Branch referenced D-Day on the 70th anniversary and said, “Every generation has their challenges, as will yours. Your generation will also have challenges ahead, but maybe you can see them as opportunities … How will you confront your Normandy’s?”

After Branch’s address to the students, the newly elected Alumni president, Steven Santos, presented the class gift, funding for new traveler curtains and lighting system for the performing arts program.

After asking his fellow seniors to stand and applaud the faculty and staff of Rocky Hill, Santos said, “This gift is to signify our gratitude to the school.”

Branch thanked Wurman and commented on his point that things cannot be controlled. Branch said one thing he has learned over the years in education is that students cannot be controlled.

It was then that a whopping yell, “Woohoo class of 2014” ripped through the crowd and a young man, wearing nothing but a ski mask and nude underwear, for posterity of course, ran across the fresh green grass, past the tent of refreshments and disappeared. The crowd had a collective laugh at the irony of a streaker the moment the head of Rocky Hill said students couldn’t always be controlled. In the background an astonished toddler told his father, “Daddy, that boy was naked!”

David Golding, this year’s valedictorian, mentioned his nervousness in presenting a fun and entertaining speech for his class. He encouraged his classmates to go through the rest of their lives with passion, to be open to new ideas, but never turn away from their principles.

His departing advice was, “Don’t forget to fail because those who never fail never learn and those who don’t never learn won’t find happiness.”

As each student was called to receive their diploma, Douglas Poskitt, head of the upper school, read a short congratulations and farewell the students’ counselor wrote for them.

Branch announced a plethora of awards throughout the ceremony. Michael Levy, a Warwick resident, won the Henry and Peggy Sharpe Award. The other students from Warwick that graduated from Rocky Hill this year were Gesele Henderson, Taylor Hernowitz, Michael Levy and Cassian McGarry. The Alma Mater was sung before the recessional began and the new graduates joined family, friends and faculty for refreshments.


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