Liam Karlinsky - Graduation Address - June 10, 2020
I started Brandeis in 6th grade, but it was not much of an adjustment. I felt accepted right away and the teachers and staff made me feel comfortable from the start. It was a weird change from attending a school where somehow every field trip and special event fell on Yom Kippur to going to Brandeis, where every other week we got off for another Jewish holiday, some that I never even heard of. The Jewish songs and services and the warm community make Brandeis unique, a place where I felt I could not only be myself, but thrive as a middle schooler. They say the middle school years are tough, but Brandies softens the edges during this complicated time in our lives.
As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” I like that the teachers and staff at Brandeis made me feel like anything was possible, from trying new sports to playing in Jazz band, to performing and writing a play to traveling to Israel, to touring Chinatown and learning about the benefits of tea to launching a hand made rocket with an egg in science to learning about the Green Book in Social Studies to being exposed to Israeli street art to leading services to bonding with my kindergarten buddy. The experiences Brandeis afforded me and all of us, have only made me understand even more that exposure makes us smarter. Achieving our dreams, like Mr. Walt Disney describes IS possible, if we have the same courage we had as Brandeis students by being open to the world and all its opportunities.
My advice for all of us, including myself, is to not let your fears and insecurity hold you back, to not be scared to try new things, meet new people, hear ideas that may be the polar opposite from your own, to stand up for the underdog, to make mistakes and to fail. Because when we fail, when we make mistakes, we actually win at life. Keep putting yourselves in positions where you risk not doing well, and also risk doing WELL.
I think what we have learned from this pandemic is how to enjoy the small moments, and to realize that life is about the small moments, and it won’t always be glamorous. Sometimes, playing a card game with your family and eating cookies IS what life is, and sometimes it’s going on a trip to Italy to learn how to make pasta.
To my teachers: thanks for making me smarter and impacting my life in so many ways, I’m going to miss you; Mr. Seymour, Ms. Freeman, Mr. Friedman, Mr. E, Mrs. Hamilton, Ms. Pinto, Mrs. Daniels, Coach, Sandra, and all the staff at Brandeis. To the friends that I’ve made here: I’ll miss you guys so much, but I know we will always stay connected. Each one of you means something to me, and it’s sad to say goodbye to all of you. Thanks to my grandparents for making my parents, and for letting me complain to you about my parents. I love you so much. Mom and Dad, I love you so much and am grateful, even if I don’t show it sometimes, to have parents who love me too much, MOM! And believe in me, it’s been fun sheltering in place with you and goes to show how strong our bond is. Thank you for sending me to Brandeis, you knew what I needed. Neal, you are my big brother and I’m so excited to be at Drake with you. I love you so much.
I guess in writing this, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be surrounded by so much support and love. I’m grateful for all the teachers and the Brandeis staff for caring about all of us, and making us feel like we matter in numerous ways. The relationship we have with all of the teachers is so special, and I can only hope that we will continue to have teachers that shape our lives in the most positive ways, and sometimes call us out when we aren’t doing our best. Congratulations to the 8th-grade class!