In Your Opinion: Open Letter To The FHS Class Of 2017

By John Felix, Somerset.

As we approach the end of the 2016/17 school year, and for those of us whose children will be ending their high school career, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the past year and celebrate the accomplishments of our children. It’s also apt to acknowledge the academic initiatives implemented by the Superintendent and his cabinet, the continued exemplary leadership of the Board of Education and the collaborative working relationship between the BOE and Superintendent; the result of which will yield improved student growth and better teacher morale.

Being a “Class of 2017” parent with a lengthy involvement with parent-connected organizations during the past 12 years, I’ve been a close observer of the BOE, and like many others, can attest to the acrimonious years of turbulence between the BOE and central office administrators, as well as among BOE officers. Thankfully, the past few years has been a positive sea change in the working dynamics among these groups; particularly, the two-year old Ravally administration has marked a significant improvement in the overall educational outlook for Franklin Township Public School students. Combined with the Superintendent’s willingness to work with parent and community groups, his cabinet’s student-centered approach learning has positioned the school district to ensure academic success for all students.

Due to the progress I’ve witnessed in our schools and the great pride I have in FHS’ Class of 2017, I’m duty-bound to publicly express my acknowledgement of the academic, artistic and athletic accomplishments of these students, many of whom I’ve known throughout their 12-year tenure in our public schools. Although the following open letter is addressed to Franklin High School (FHS) graduation class, I also offer the same message of congratulations to all Franklin Township high school seniors and their families.


Dear FHS Graduate,


During the past four years, as well as the previous eight, you have successfully strived to accomplish what will become a reality on June 16thYour Graduation from High School. Throughout that time period, and particularly the time spent at FHS, the education you’ve received, the challenges you’ve endured, the opportunities you’ve had, the friendship you’ve established, as well as the memories of being a Warrior culminate the pride of being a Franklin High School Graduate. As a proud parent of a graduating senior I share your family’s joy of your graduation, and on behalf of the FHS PTSO, I offer a hearty congratulation to you on your accomplishments.

As you reflect on the high school years, take time to reminisce about your first day in Kindergarten, your growing pains and joys of middle school, your freshman year at FHS and the ultimate status of being an upperclassman. Think less about the next four years and more about the immediate completion of an important phase of your life. I encourage you to relish the final days at FHS by enjoying the company of friends and classmates; offering words of appreciation to your teachers, school counselors, coaches, security officers, cafeteria staff, support staff and administrators; re-visit your favorite spot in the library; thank a special friend for his/her words of encouragement and support; forgive those who wronged you; offer an apology to the students whom you once mistreated, and save a special, warm, embracing hug for your parents/guardians. While devoting the twilight of your high school tenure to episodes of reflection and perspective, don’t take your eyes of the prize of graduating with the best possible GPA; stay focused on your studies by completing your class assignments and attaining academic success.

On your journey to being a graduating senior, you have withstood a multitude of emotional and educational experiences. I’m certain that high school was not always an easy trek, and at times was painful and intolerable. Nevertheless, you have endured. The ‘You’ who entered high school as a 9th grader is not the same ‘You’ who will exit as a 12th grader. During the last four years, the old   has grown into a mature, knowledgeable, young adult whose scars of teen-age growth should be worn as a badge of resilience.  As you enter the beginning phase of young adulthood, whether it’s a continuation to higher education or entering the labor market or taking time off to contemplate the next chapter of your life, please do so with the ‘Warrior spirit’ of careful thought and utmost deliberation. Regardless of your choice, continue to make your family and community proud by adhering to the principle of respect for yourself and that of others with consideration of what’s best for the community and country at large.

During my daughter’s 12-year journey through the Franklin Township Public Schools, I’ve grown to know many of you either by direct interactions, or indirectly as classmates of my daughter or through my close collaborations with your parents at various PTOs/PTSOs. I’m extremely proud of your individual and collective accomplishments which include strong academic growth, artistic prowess, social growth, community engagement and civic mindedness. These accomplishments reflect your dedication towards your education, and the conscious, noble decision of taking ownership of your educational pursuit. For those of you who have chosen to proceed with the higher education option, I’m both sincerely hopeful and relatively confident that your accumulated experience during the elementary, intermediate, middle and high school aptly prepared you for the challenges ahead. Like you, many of your class mates have been accepted to several prestigious colleges and universities, including local community and state colleges, Ivy League institutions and ‘public’ Ivies. Regardless of where you choose to matriculate, continue to make your family, our school district and township proud by applying the same level of commitment towards your higher education studies.

For each of you who will have the opportunity to enroll in a college or university, there will be a fellow classmate who has chosen to do a gap year or take alternate route, or is simply unable to do so at the current time. To these students, my message to you is the same – your high school diploma represents the culmination of hard work and perseverance; hence, celebrate your current success and move forward with pride and a strong determination to succeed in your future endeavors. Take solace in the fact that your intellect is not necessarily synonymous with being scholastically inclined; carefully explore your options and if necessary re-calibrate your expectations in order to carve out a realistic path forward. The fact remains that you are a young adult who still has the luxury of time to carefully contemplate a myriad of choices without haste or urgency.

I’ll end by reiterating my sincere and wholehearted congratulations to you on the successful completion of an important milestone. As you prepare for graduation ceremonies and the Prom, do so with pride in yourself, respect for your friends, your school and our community. Be responsible in your activities and apply the moral compass that is expected of you from your parents, siblings, teachers and other adults in your life. Whatever choice you make after graduation, my very best wishes to you on your future endeavors, and please remember that self-confidence, without arrogance, and your treatment and respect for others are key components in measuring success.

John P. Felix is the FHS PTSO, Co-President


Your Thoughts


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