GFA Congratulates the Class of 2010

Keynote speaker David Pogue gives the graduating seniors four tips, plus a few more, to a successful life.

A scholar. A thespian. Generous of spirit.

Strong. Honorable. Deep thinking.

A cake-baker extraordinaire. A prince of music. A great friend with a good heart.

One by one, Greens Farms Academy Head of School Janet Hartwell called out characteristics of each graduating senior Thursday during the school's 85th commencement.

Among the 70 seniors, girls wore white dresses and carried pink and white roses while boys wore suits, complete with white rose boutonnieres. The class of 2010 sat before a happy and proud crowd on the grounds of Greens Farms Academy.

After trumpets and trombones escorted them in with pomp and circumstance, Hartwell took to the podium.

"Over the years, each class develops its own character and shape," Hartwell said in her introductions. "The class of 2010 defined itself with leadership, a sense of community, scholarship, innate talent and commitment to global awareness and a sense of fairness."

She highlighted student accomplishments, their interests and how they all contributed to making the school a better place.

Class Salutatorian Matthew Wickes McCalpin, known to many as "China Boy," for his ability to speak Chinese spoke of character and happiness in his bilingual address.

Class Valedictorian David Blair Schmidt-Fellner spoke of viewing the world from multiple perspectives and the importance of a mind rich in science, the arts, history, language, math, music and more.

"One of the great joys in life is to see the world from multiple perspectives," he said. "...Let us be proud of the perspectives we have gained here from our teachers, parents and friends. Let us also challenge ourselves to view the world from different vantage points, celebrate its subjectivity and bask in its mystery."

In one of the more humorous moments of the ceremony, New York Times Technology Columnist David Pogue said he was not going to stand in front of the graduates and give them a canned list of the 10 tips for surviving the world. 

"I can only think of four," he said as the audience laughed.

His No. 1 tip?

"Do what you love and the rest will follow."

Pogue said his family always assumed and expected he would become a lawyer, like his father.

"When I told my parents I wanted to be a Broadway musician, they were like, 'What are you smoking?'" he said, adding that his dad basically told him to get it out of his system and if he wasn't on Broadway in two years, he would be going to law school.

Well, 24 months later, he had made it to Broadway in a show that only ran for two nights.

"No, I did not become a professional musician, but I made it part of what I love," he said. "I write song parodies about the tech industry. ...There's a Brittany Spears one," he said. "Apps! I did it again."

His other tips for life were to:


  • No. 2: Recognize everyone is different and make room for them in your worldview.
  • No. 3: Be civil online


"People are so nasty online," he said. "Be the generation that brings civility online or figure out a way to implement a worldwide system where we are all known as our real names online and I will write about you in the New York Times, I promise."

His fourth and final tip was to be aware of "The Big Cycle," the cycle of technology and how it changes and not to be afraid to embrace it.

"A couple other things," he added. "Take time after college. Don't marry too young. Remember the little people. Don't smoke. Exercise regularly. Don't text and drive. And, oh yeah, have fun."


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