Good evening students, parents, teachers and guests, I will be occupying the next 3-6 minutes of your life by speaking about scholarship.
I imagine a scholar to have been well privileged grey haired old man who spent the majority of his time in a dark, secluded, silent, fire-lit dungeon, surrounded by thousands of barely legible hand written documents in alphabetical order, painstakingly filtering through the potentially erroneous works of others.
The pursuit of scholarship is a much different experience for modern students. We sit in our messy, air conditioned rooms, with Sparknotes, Google search results, GMail and countless ringing AIM chat windows littered across our computer monitors, and iTunes blasting music to our stereo in the background, providing a symphony of sounds that would drive most adults crazy. Every weeknight was a journey, a journey filled with Shakespeare, LOLs, derivatives, OMGs, regression analysis, ROFLCopters, red blood cells and the realization that Sigmund Freud will just have to wait because it is too late in the night (or morning), or when everyone signed off of AIM and GMail.
Despite the extracurriculars and distractions, we are held to higher expectations than the idealized scholars of the past. We learn not for the simple enjoyment of the pursuit of knowledge, but to become more responsible, productive and charitable citizens. Scholarship is the corner stone to all three qualities that the National Honor Society emphasizes: service, leadership and character.
Tomorrowâ€™s leaders and politicians will use the lessons taught by Shakespeare and Freud to score points with the ladies, or better understand human nature so that they improve their character and treatment towards others, so that they may better govern. Tomorrowâ€™s engineers and architects will use derivatives to design the best potatoes cannon ever, or to construct marvels that will inspire awe for decades or centuries to come, leading the way for future feats of human accomplishment. Tomorrowâ€™s scientists and economists will use regressions to figure out the likeliness of their team of winning the Super Bowl, or to find critical patterns to predict social and environmental disasters and help redistribute scarce resources in our society to improve the overall quality of life. And tomorrowâ€™s biologists will use their knowledge of red blood cells to save the rabbit that their pet just attacked or provide cures for fatal illnesses and prolong the span of human life, making the world we live in a safer place.
I hope your induction in to the National Honor Society will encourage you to be more active in the pursuit of scholarship, leadership, service and character so that all of you will one day become a respectable and proud member of society, or at the least be someone fun to hang out with.