Dean of Students Address - Graduation 2023
Samantha Singman

Thank you, 2023 - I owe you a debt of gratitude for making my job so easy this year. Usually, I obsess for months leading up to graduation, trying to come up with the perfect way to describe the senior class. You, however, have made it very simple.

It was easy because over the years I have gained a good sense of your identity, both individually and as a class. When I asked how you saw your class, your responses were perceptive and honest. You were proud of who you were even though you noted that others thought your class was uninvolved and lacking in leadership. Those who suggested that were just plain wrong. Yes, you may be different from some other classes but that is because you are calm and laid back and you take most everything in stride. You never worried about doing it all, you were comfortable with who you were, and you weren’t competitive or looking for the limelight.

I have loved walking by your lounge all year. It was uncharacteristically free from drama, stress, and tension. You were always enjoying each other's company and you were always so happy. Your positive attitude and view of life was refreshing and permeated the building. 

While it is true that you were laid back and didn’t take anything too seriously, you took everything seriously enough to be as successful as you were.

Academically, you shined without being competitive. You used your academic skills, applying your learning to outside activities. One of you had a prestigious NASA internship and a few of you participated in the Student to Student program at JCRC, educating public school students about Judaism. One secured a Johns Hopkins Applied Physics internship, and another served as a congressional intern. A classmate placed second in the National FAA Airport Design Challenge and one of you led 60 U.S. and Israeli students to test natural water sources in Maryland and the Negev as you promoted conservation.

Your talents were obvious in other areas. You made JDS proud when you advanced to the county debate playoffs and were winners in a statewide chess tournament. You are fluent in Japanese, performed at the Lincoln Center in NY, and are the first violinist in the MD Youth Orchestra. One of you interned in Israel with the Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball team, another shadowed the Hyattsville Police and worked with them on a crime scene investigation, while a third performed her own music in Nashville. 

You are athletic, competing in the MD private school wrestling championship, and you have led our cross-country teams to win the State championship two years in a row! Among your classmates, there is an elite fencer, competitive swimmer, an ice hockey star, and one of you played soccer in Spain.

You are gutsy, riding more than 175 roller coasters in your short life. A number of you are entrepreneurial: you ran a sports card business, a lawn care business, and were the owners of the very successful and delicious Twin Challah baking company. Many of us wish you had not retired!

You do not think only of yourselves. You have taken our school’s value of Tikkun Olam to heart, reaching out to support others. You created a non-profit focused on fighting antisemitism, served as an instructor for Special Olympics in MD, mentored Korean adoptees, volunteered with special needs kids, and brought literacy to your community through the Bring the Book to the People program. One senior used her own life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to successfully change a law in MD enabling children at camp to have access to EpiPens. Another interviewed military veterans and was honored at a World War II memorial ceremony for his contribution to those veterans. In the midst of the pandemic, your grade came together and created a montage to thank doctors and nurses who were on the front lines during COVID. You have cared about others, living our school value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. 

The closeness that you share as a class is clear in all that you do. You care deeply about one another, and you work well together. Even when you lost Zimriya, you celebrated your performance and spirit, looking at the glass half full instead of half empty. Your love for each other was so evident when you lingered long after the last bell on your final day, singing, hugging, and shedding so many tears because your time together was ending! And then at prom, when I declared the night over and was trying to move you onto the party buses, you would hear nothing of it; you had to remain in a huge circle, arms around each other, singing songs that were meaningful to your class. You just were not ready to leave one another; never in my 46 years at JDS have I seen such love in a class.  

In this very competitive, fast paced society, it has been a pleasure spending this year with you and enjoying your relaxed attitude. And so, your gift was easy to select. I have for each of you a personal fan, thanking you for making our year so relaxed, happy, and chill. You have truly been a breath of fresh air!! 

You have gained all the skills and tools at JDS that you need to be a success and I have no doubt you will be, and that you will make a difference in the lives of others; we are depending on you to help make this world a happier, more just place.

I have loved knowing and working with each of you and will miss you all so much. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an honor for me to read the names of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School Class of 2023 as they receive their diplomas.