Queens Chronicle Publisher Mark Weidler sent the John Adams High School Class of 2010 into their futures with a rousing speech last Friday that combined youthful optimism with sage advice on what he’s learned since graduating from the school 23 years ago.
The Chronicle president and CEO told the 453 graduates that the key to success is to always “try hard” in all they do, whether their careers, family life or other endeavors. A married father of two, Weidler said in one of the speech’s more touching passages that he got far more satisfaction from coaching his son’s T-ball team this spring than anything else he’s done recently.
“Do whatever you can to make the right choices, and keep in mind they don’t always mean financial gain, especially right away,” added Weidler, a Howard Beach native who employs dozens of people in Queens.
Weidler gave graduate Corinne Munoz, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Campus, a surprise $500 stipend, and announced that the Chronicle will do the same for John Adams’ top journalist every year. The Campus staff gave Weidler a plaque in thanks for his taking on the cost of publishing the paper this year. The Campus was not going to be published due to budget cuts, but Weidler’s financial support kept it going.
Also speaking at the ceremony, witnessed by a crowd of about 2,000 gathered on the Ozone Park school’s front lawn, were Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn), Principal Grace Zwillenberg, Superintendent of Queens High Schools Francesca Pena and representatives of state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park).
Mark Weidler's John Adams High School Commencement Speech 2010
Congratulations Class of 2010!
I am excited and proud to be here on your special day, the beginning of the next chapter of your life.
Twenty-three years ago I was sitting exactly where you are today. For all of you, that's more than a lifetime ago- before cell phones, x-box, facebook, email and pretty much everything computer and internet related. For me, it feels like yesterday.
I would first like to thank your principal, Mrs. Zwillenberg for inviting me to be the commencement speaker today. It's a great honor for me. I'm glad to see some familiar faces here. One of my closest friends from High School, Robert Bloom is a dean at Adams. I was surprised to hear that one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Bibula is still here teaching Earth Science. Mr. Bibula has been here so long that when he first started teaching Earth Science it was called Current Events!
I hope you've all read or heard of the Queens Chronicle, of which I am the owner and publisher. I have been a part of the Chronicle since I graduated from Florida State University in 1990. We now publish 9 weekly editions of the Chronicle and companion websites that cover all of Queens County.
Two years ago I decided to offer schools in Queens full pages in the newspaper to help publicize all the positive events and achievements that occur in schools. We all know that most of the time when a school gets in the news it's because something negative happened. On behalf of John Adams, Rob Trotta was one of the first teachers to take part in my school spotlight pages and we've published some great stories about your school events. I hope you've seen those and I know they've contributed to the positive image of your school by letting the whole community know about the great things going on here.
Last year due to budget cuts John Adams did not have the funds to publish a school paper. Knowing the importance of newspapers, I decided to subsidize the cost of printing it. Sonny's Collision on Atlantic Ave. also volunteered to absorb some of the cost by placing an ad in the Campus. Our 3rd edition of the year is coming out on Monday. I hope all of you enjoy it. I know that a lot of hard work was involved in putting it together by the Campus staff and Mr. Trotta. In reading it, I see stories about the wonderful programs that go on now that did not exist when I was a student here, such as Career day, Model UN Congress, Moot court, Virtual enterprise and many others.
But now that you are leaving the comforts of High School and your regimented existence I would like to read to you the "11 Rules of advice you never learned in High School". I did not make up these rules! They are commonly attributed to the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates who first read them at a high school commencement address but they were written by Charles Sykes, the talk show host and author. He actually came up with 50 rules but I think the top 11 are enough- I know you want to get your diplomas soon.
Lifeis not fair - get used to it.
Theworld won't care about your self-esteem. The world
will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel
good about yourself.
You will NOT make 100 thousand dollars a year right out
of high school. You won't be a vice president with a
blackberry, until you earn both.
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
boss. He doesn't have tenure.
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
grandparents had a different word for burger flipping
called it Opportunity.
If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't
whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as
they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you are..
Your school may have done away with winners and losers,
but life has not. In some schools they have abolished
failing grades and they'll give you as many times as
you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the
slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get
summers off unless you become a teacher and very few employers are interested in
helping you find yourself. Do that on your owntime.
Television is NOT real life. In real life people
actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Benice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. Unless of course, you get a
job at the Chronicle!
Graduating today is a monumental event for all of you in so many ways. You are able to start the next chapter of your life with a clean slate. Of course you will always have your memories and accomplishments to look back on. But any mistakes you made or regrets you had about high school are now in the past. Whether you plan to go to college or enter the workforce right away, you're now the one who controls your destiny.
I have been successful primarily due to one thing: Trying Hard. Whether it's at work, in my marriage, as a parent or friend I try hard at everything I do. But it wasn't always that way.I did not graduate at the top of my class here at Adams nor go on to an Ivy League University.
When I was a kid my report card usually said "has potential but needs to apply himself better." I am sure many of you may have had the same comments on your report cards. It was right around your age that I decided I was going to work hard and do everything in my power to become a success. Now I've got a great wife and kids, I run a good company and I've even got to deliver my first commencement address! I am proud to say that I have accomplished most of what I set out to do except run in the New York City marathon! But I still have time for that one! The truth is, you only get one chance at life. The decisions that you make in the next few years will likely determine the course of the rest of your life. Do whatever you can to make the right choices, and keep in mind they don't always mean financial gain, especially right away.
Over the last 3 months I coached my sons t-ball team. I've gotten more satisfaction from teaching 6 year old boys and girls how to hit, catch and throw than from anything else I've done recently. It's important to do things like that, to put your family first and get involved with helping to make your community a better place in which to live. In fact that what this week's special edition of the Chronicle is all about. We call it our Celebration of Queens and we profiled some people and groups that do great work in the community. Check it out if you can. Whatever you do keep in mind a couple of old sayings "Winners never quit and quitters never win. And "you can't fail at something if you never try."Over the years I've started quite a few newspapers and magazines. Some have been successful and some have failed. Now, even in this tough economy I am planning on starting a health magazine after the summer.
My advice to you is to take chances, work hard, have a positive attitude and try to enjoy whatever career path you choose. Unless you are lucky enough to play shortstop for the Mets or Yankees, work is rarely fun. But it's rewarding when you do it right, and if you have a positive attitude, you will get far in life.
In closing, I am excited to announce that the Queens Chronicle has created a journalism prize for the top contributor to the Campus newspaper. We plan on making this $500 stipend an annual prize at graduation. I am proud to present the 1st annual award to Corinne Munyoz. Corrine is the editor in chief of the Campus. Although I have never met her until today, everyone that I have spoken to about Corrine tells me she is a driven student leader and gets involved in many aspects of life at John Adams. She has a great attitude and has overcome adversity in her life. I am proud to present this award to Corinne.
And I am proud to again congratulate all of you from graduating from John Adams High School. My sincere best wishes in wherever life takes you next.