Roycemore students and alumni are thinkers. They are doers. They celebrate the uniqueness of each individual and recognize the power in what each individual has to offer to our community. In this way, we have a school that is somewhat- counter-cultural. It is a place where students can be themselves and pursue their unique interests- blazing new trails for those that follow them. Christopher Deutsch, class of 1993, is a trailblazer! Spend any time with him and you will soon learn that he is a quintessential entrepreneur. Chris’s energy, drive, determination, and passion for what he does is infectious! He is an incredible ambassador for Roycemore and a perfect representative for how a Roycemore alum can take what they have gained at our school to blaze new trails in business and in life! We are pleased to recognize Roycemore Distinguished Alumnus of 2018, Christopher Deutsch. Chris served as the graduation speaker on June 8th.
Head of School Finley Odell, board of trustees, faculty, students, distinguished guests, my former teachers and coaches, and of course, seniors, thank you for this prestigious honor. Roycemore has given me so much, and I’m elated to see that this institution continues to produce such exceptional and passionate young adults. I would also like to thank my amazing wife, Elizabeth, and family, for being here to share this momentous occasion.
Exactly a quarter century ago, I was sitting where you are, right now, albeit in Roycemore’s prior gymnasium. In the spring of 1993, I was also facing an exciting, yet uncertain future after having spent nine years in this rigorous academic institution. I reflected often in the weeks and months to follow, and across more than two decades since then, and I’d like to share two realizations I’ve had about myself that may be helpful as you all venture one step closer to the real world.
Roycemore was much more for me than just a series of challenging courses, competitive teams, brilliant teachers, dedicated coaches, extravagant Palio performances, and clandestine trips to D&D Dogs between periods. Roycemore was, and continues to be, a vibrant, stimulating and diverse community with a wide range of subjects, activities and sports to explore. Not to mention, January Short Term, which I’d look forward to every year. Whether it was living with a French family in Paris, winter ecology and hiking with Mr. Spica in Wisconsin, recreating Normandy’s D-Day invasion, or learning how to run a snowboard shop as an independent study on entrepreneurship, I was able to pique interests, gain international exposure and build lifelong memories.
I was an exceptionally active kid, more specifically, hyper-active. My ADHD translated into a fondness for extracurriculars. I still can’t believe that I literally averaged 13 extracurricular activities per year. These included, president of student government, captain of both basketball and soccer teams, yearbook with Mr. Hunt, an assortment of Mrs. Wonder’s performances, Carnival co-chair, and the list goes on. It was an opportunity to discover my passions. My various leadership roles at the school also gave me the opportunity to develop my social skills and become a builder of community. I remember sitting in former high school principal, Mr. Spica’s office and him saying how I was part of the glue that held all off the various student groups together. This was when I started to realize that the idea of community would play a central role in the person I would become.
I’d like to share another early epiphany, which occurred during winter break of my junior year. It starts off in what may be a familiar scene for some of you. I’m at home, in my parents’ room, aimlessly flipping through TV channels, while my mother and father start looking at my first semester grades that just arrived in the mail. My mother starts at me with the usual stuff… “Why are you getting such mediocre grades, Chris? You’re so much smarter than this.” All of which goes in one ear and out the other, as I drone out to the TV. But one comment manages to grab my attention, “Why do we have to push you to get good grades? When you taught yourself how to snowboard or play lacrosse, no one pushed you…you took the initiative yourself.” I mumbled a barely audible response, “That’s different, that’s something I wanted to do.” Not a second later, my father jumped off the bed, and shouted “AH HAH!” while driving his finger straight up into the air. He continued, “That’s different, that’s something you wanted to do! Until you decide that getting good grades and going to a good college is something you want to do, then we’re not going to push you any more. It’s entirely up to you.”
This was a major turning point for me as I suddenly realized that working hard in my courses would unlock future opportunities to pursue, as of yet undiscovered passions that would only be available to me by going to a good college. This marked the beginning of my self-imposed campaign to strengthen my academic record. And thankfully it worked. After graduating from Roycemore, I attended Vassar College, which was an incredible opportunity and a transformational experience.
Why does this story matter to you? Hopefully it provides a good litmus test to help you realize what you’re actually passionate about. The word passion gets thrown around a lot, which tends to dilute its meaning. You often hear people say, “Follow your passions.” But what if you don’t know what you’re passionate about? Ask yourself this, “What are the things that I love so much that I lose track of time when I’m doing them?” What are those activities or subjects where you tell naysayers, “That’s different, that’s something I wanted to do”? Those are your passions and those are the things you should double down on in life.
My time at Roycemore helped me realize the importance of passion and community, in my life. I hope all of you have had similar experiences at our alma mater and that you’ll hold those memories and epiphanies close to your heart. I can assure you that they won’t be your last realizations, but they will form the foundation that you’ll spend the rest of your life building upon.
Congratulations, class of 2018!
As a proud Griffin, I welcome you to the ranks as fellow alumni!