First off, thank you for asking me to say a few words, it’s especially meaningful this year—and quite frankly, a full circle moment—getting to watch my little sister (Chloe) graduate and my cousin (Winston), too.
As a graduate of the class of 2014, Far Hills has obviously meant a lot to the
Valentine’s as a multi-generational family at the school. Unfortunately, barring some extremely unforeseen circumstances, that run looks to be coming to an end for a little while, but nevertheless, we’re excited to celebrate this class and their achievements.
The school has certainly taught us all a lot: from expo projects to the 50-state fair, to general classes and everything in between. But it went far beyond that, at least from my perspective. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that Far Hills graduates not just scholars, but well-rounded scholars. Good communicators. Sociable. Knowledgeable. People who can hold a conversation and are well-equipped to face any challenge the world decides to throw their way. That foundation was set here. And while many of you go your separate ways after graduation, there is one thing I’d like you to keep in mind, for those feeling unsettled about the future, or making new friends, or starting a new life at a new school: your friends in this room will still be your friends—in my case, eight years later. In fact, two of my best friends in the world went to Far Hills with me, and the friendship has only gotten stronger.
Far Hills was just Chapter One. That’s something that should excite a lot of you as you continue to make new friends, but also strengthen the ones sitting next to you now. For me personally, some of my favorite Far Hills memories came outside of the classroom—which I’m sure comes as a shocking claim. Winning the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Playing intense games of football or basketball at recess that would ruin your afternoon or alter friendships if you came out on the losing end. Dances with other schools. Grand Buffet for lunch. Hangout out after school gets out. Memories were made then that are still talked about now at 22 years old.
However, my K-8 years were without question impacted scholastically, too. I was always impressed with how approachable the teachers were to the students, which allowed for healthy learning environments and productive class periods. Learning through experience and hands-on instruction—it was the perfect balance to learn. Although adventure and the outdoors are not my cup of tea, field trips were plentiful, which is one aspect of the Far Hills experience that I think is invaluable. Being able to get out of the classroom and learn through experience is not
something every school has the opportunity to do. That’s never wavered at FH.
One thing is certain: This is an exciting time, representing new beginnings and new places that will put the skills you developed at Far Hills to the test. But like your teachers and parents would probably agree: you are prepared to ace those tests.
In closing, I’d like to congratulate my sister for graduating and making the tremendously daunting decision to follow in her big brother’s footsteps in going to Blair Academy. I am very proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished at Far Hills and will continue to accomplish in the next chapter of your life. To my cousin Winston. You thought you were in the clear, didn’t you? Congratulations on all of your hard work and for knowing more about history than
your college-educated cousin. You’re going to kill it at The Hill School.
Congratulations to the class of 2022!