Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Creative uses for healthy herbs: A lunch line success story

As a thank you for the many compliments given to Peddie Food Service for their popular "Herb Table" at lunch, Stephany Tuchez shares recipes from the delicious repast for all to try their hand at and enjoy. Bon appétit!

Pasta Salad
Pasta with Plum Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto

lb. pasta, cooked
15 plum tomatoes, diced
2 small to medium size fresh mozzarella balls, diced

Set ingredients aside in a bowl.

Basil Pesto:
2 bunches of fresh basil
5-6 cloves of garlic
½ c. parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 c. olive oil
½ c. pine nuts (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place all in food processor and blend together to make pesto.

Then add all ingredients and fold in desired amount basil pesto.

Deviled Eggs
Parsley Sauce and Micro Greens

1 doz. hard boiled eggs, cut in half and scoop out yolks
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: parsley sauce and micro greens or simply sprinkle some paprika

Parsley Sauce: Blend in food processor and set aside. To be drizzled over the filled eggs.
1 cup olive oil
½ bunch of fresh parsley, remove stems
Salt and pepper

In a separate bowl mix yolks, mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper with a mixer and blend until smooth semi-thick consistency. Place the yolk mixture into a pastry piping bag to fill each egg. Garnish to desire.

Smoked Salmon Salad
Potato, Celery Root, Dill

lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, not peeled, chopped into cubes, and roasted with salt and pepper
2 celery roots, peeled, chopped into cubes, and roasted with salt and pepper
1 cup chopped smoked salmon
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 cup of chopped celery
1 medium chopped red onion
¼ cup of olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Roast potatoes and celery root in preheated oven at 375° for 15 mins.
Mix all ingredients except for the salmon in a bowl. Lastly, fold in the chopped salmon and serve. 

Pork Loin
Chimichurri Sauce

5 lb. raw porkloin seasoned with salt and pepper

In a preheated 350° oven, roast for 50 mins until internal temperature is 145°. Let rest for 15 mins. before slicing. 

Chimichurri Sauce:
1 bunch fresh parsley washed, dried, chopped
2 cups olive oil
1 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Shallots, chopped

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Béarnaise and Fennel

2 bunches of asparagus, trim ends
1 fennel head, remove core and stems

Blanch asparagus in salted water for 4 mins. Then place in iced water.
Julienne fennel, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven at 375°  for 10-15 mins until golden brown.

Béarnaise Sauce:
2 cups of Hollandaise sauce (shortcut may use preferred brand mix)
¼ cup dried tarragon
¼ cup white vinegar

Over low heat, simmer tarragon with vinegar until all vinegar is all evaporated. Mix Hollandaise and tarragon reduction together. Generously top off asparagus with sauce.  

Sage Sauce

Cook your favorite choice of ravioli following instructions on bag.

Sage Sauce:
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 large shallot, chopped
½ lb unsalted butter
1 bunch fresh sage, chopped
½ cup grated parm cheese
½ cup reserved pasta water or vegetable stock
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add garlic, shallot, and sage to the butter. Simmer for 1 minute and then add pasta water or vegetable stock to the mix. Season butter mixture to taste with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper. Add ravioli and sprinkle parm cheese.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: It's so much fun to ride a bike

For anyone who has been connected to Peddie over the last three decades or so, the image of Pat Clements on his bicycle is almost as familiar as the campus itself. In this Chapel talk pulled from the archives, given on January 29, 2001, Clements reflects on the joy riding brings him and on one very special ride in particular. 

Clements & bike, circa 2001
 As many of you know, I like to ride my bike. Because I spend a lot of time on my bike, I get to do some serious thinking while I ride. And sometimes, while I ride my bike, I think about riding my bike. I've examined my cycling in terms of fitness and cardio-vascular health, and yes, I've concluded it is a beneficial activity. I've examined my riding in ecological terms, and yes, I see that cycling is less destructive than driving a car to run errands. I've looked at my recent cycling as a response to middle-age male identity crisis, and, yes, well, I’d rather not go there. I've examined cycling as an endorphin producing mind & emotion altering activity, a mind-clearing Zen activity.

Mostly, however, whenever I examine why I love to cycle, I come back to its fundamental essence. It’s fun. Flat out fun. Kid fun. I feel terrific when I ride. My spirit soars. I smile. I know I look goofy, but I just smile and am full of joy. I feel fully alive. And I know why, too. It’s because riding a bike is elegantly simple, and thus wildly liberating. It was true when I was six and learned to ride a J.C. Higgins two-wheeler on Juniper Drive in Levittown, PA, and it’s true now when I ride across campus or across our country. It’s fun; it’s free; and its vital.

But that’s me and riding in general. More specifically, I want to talk about something else this morning, about one particular bicycle ride, a ride I’ll remember forever. This summer, Peter Clements and I took a long bike ride. Peter and I left Melanie Clements here in Jersey last summer, rented a car, slapped our bikes on board and drove that rental car to Pensacola, Florida, where my Mother, Pete’s grandmother, lives, dropped off the car, and pedaled our way home.

Father & Son, circa 1990
Getting home took a while, 21 days, but it was a simple trip: go visit Willie down in Pensacola, and then ride back on our bikes. The trip was far more complicated than that, however. We saved up some money for the trip, set up our bikes special so they could handle all the clothing, cooking gear, tents and sleeping gear we needed to spend a month by ourselves on the road. We had to plan a route that was interesting, safe, and manageable, and that would let us get off the beaten path and see, feel, even smell as many parts of our country as we could fit in. Lots of details. We had to deal with the burden our absence placed on Melanie, for we were no longer help in the household (not that I've ever been that good anyway). And we missed her terribly while we were gone. But the trip itself was very simple. Peter and I, together, rode our bikes home.

 I learned a lot on this trip home. Our ride was a trip through an extraordinary country, not much of it like homes I know, or you know. After we dipped our wheels in the gulf salt of Pensacola Bay, we headed east along the coast, then north to Alabama, through drought-ravaged farm land staggering in the heat, past handsome farms and sharecroppers’ shacks. Along an old Indian path we rode the highway north through Tuskegee and Auburn and Opelika, and on to Georgia and more red clay and pines and desiccated fields. Past Atlanta, the shimmer of road heat rising from the macadam between county seat and county seat took us into South Carolina and the friendly folks of Pickens.

We rode north again and climbed the first wall of the sharp edge of the Appalachians, up into Asheville, North Carolina, and then up again and over the spine of Carolina into Tennessee, and then north east along the Lee highway into the great long valley running the Western edge of Virginia, and we rolled onward for a couple of hundred miles in rain and amongst clouds through soft farms and towns carved into the valley, heading north, through Seven Mile Ford and Roanoke and Stuart’s Draft, finally crossing the Blue Ridge again, aiming east this time, into the foothills of Charlottesville, and then on through the rolling richness near Washington.

We rode through the city again, fighting interstate suburban sprawl on into Annapolis, and then east once more into the emptiness of the eastern shore, across Maryland and Delaware, and then ferrying over to the bottom of New Jersey, and rolling up old Route 9 all the way to home. We rode through country that lived off the sea; we rode through farmland with thick black dirt and farmland thin and blasted; we pedaled through mountains lush and moist and dripping; we rode through the homes of millions of folks.

Mostly we met folks relentlessly friendly, always eager to help, and, except for two small crummy moments on the same day when someone treated us mean, everyone we met on the road treated us wonderfully. We were offered food and prayers by strangers, some of them poor folks who looked at the bedraggled pair of us and thought we must be really poor, reduced to riding bikes, and needed a hand. We were treated to a full catered Sunday brunch by a couple who’d stopped to give us a hand with a blown tire; We were honored and respected by drivers of logging trucks and pick-ups and Harley-Davidsons. Rich folks, poor folks, black folks, white folks, city folks, country folks. People in a Washington ghetto and an suburban Atlanta gated community were awfully nice, as was every single person working in every Waffle House we saw.

I heard stories about how some southerners in pick-ups (not the term used by the speaker) would just run us off the road, how some “African-Americans” (again, not the term used) in the laundromat over there would make us feel unwelcome; how those Northerners (again, not the term) were just not friendly folks and we should watch out. Everything everyone said about those other folks was not true. Everyone (except those two knuckleheads that one day) was just wonderful. What was true was that almost every wonderful person warned us about the next folks down the road. “We’re nice to travelers here, but you be careful when you get to Tennessee…. And then in Tennessee they said, “We’re glad to have you here, but you be careful when you further down the road on into Virginia. Those folks…

I learned a lot on this trip. Much of what I learned came from watching the land and meeting the people, from trying to get a feel for how lives lived changed from community to community, depending on myriad factors. The nearest Baptist church and the color of the dirt, and the distance from town, and the finances of the county, when it last rained, and how far upstream you were, how many books the neighbors read, how smooth was the road – all these figured into making sense of what we saw. We learned too that armadillos haven’t figured out how dangerous roads are, and they all get surprised, and killed, just alike: of the hundreds of armadillo road kills we saw, all except maybe two were run over just alike, 8- 10 inches from the white line. We’re safe up here in Jersey for now, though: not one armadillo has made it further north than Lafayette, Alabama.
Clements (top left) with the 2001 Prinicipio group.

I learned lots of other things too, must mostly I learned from two sources: all the Principio kids whom I didn't see or talk to the whole trip, and Peter Clements, whom I did see and talk with the whole way. I thought often of the students with whom I’d worked for two years, and I imagined them all scattered over the hemisphere, on their adventuresome, stretching summer projects, and I tried to draw an imaginary line from me to each Principiate out in the world. Because I could not have predicted the details of our own trip, what was about to show itself around any next bend, I realized I could not even imagine what their experiences were. Thus the imaginary strings kept vanishing, since that’s what supposed to happen when fledglings go, when kids take off into the world and leave their teachers behind.

More often, however, my focus was on Peter, my riding partner. Soon into the trip the father/son things pretty much disappeared, at least from my perspective, since we had no structural father/son roles to play. We rode together, cooked for each other, traded novels to read in camp, and mostly dealt, exactly equally, with whatever the weather, the road, and the physics of wind and gravity all required. The world treated us the same, and we started to also. This shift in role happened early, and, like most good things, it happened almost unnoticed.

For the first few days, I rode the lead most of the time, especially mornings. Peter was polite and deferential and didn't chafe at my pace, since we knew we were learning our rhythms. About four days in, however, during another brutal afternoon of riding on 120 degree roadbeds in the Alabama sun, my body started shutting down on me. We were nowhere, some 20 miles south of Tuskegee, Alabama, and with every stroke I was going slower and slower, and after each little hill I had to holler up ahead to Peter so I could pause and recover. After yet another of these rests, Peter let me pass to the lead, and then took up a new position on my rear wheel, quietly pedaling slowly, but just as fast as me. I finally realized what he was doing: we’d shifted roles and was taking care of me, making sure I didn't topple over, a real worry that day. He didn't say a word, and made what he did seem invisible. Then, after we figured we were only two miles from Tuskegee, he invisibly took the lead again, and visually pulled me forward, silently helping me pick up my pace just a bit and change my attitude.

I knew things were different between us forever, and he never said a word. I thought that I’d seen Peter grow into a new level of confidence, into another level of wisdom and action. When we arrived in Tuskegee and found some rest in the cool of the college buildings, I thanked him for his leadership, his quiet help, and his patient kindness with me. But later, a couple days down the road I realized that I was wrong. Peter had not made some giant transformation that day on the way to Tuskegee. I had, but it took me a while to see it. He did not change that day an much as my limited vision of him had. I thought this was one of those coming of age trips, but I was wrong in thinking that it was about Peter’s coming of age. I had it backwards. We rode together, made decisions together, even giggled about how great it was to crawl into our sleeping bags at summer dusk with a book, a flashlight and the hope we might get three or four pages of reading in before we bonked in that delicious fatigue that long, healthy outdoor work creates. We took enormous pleasure in comfortable shade, good cold water, and the exquisite beauty of gentle downhills.

We knew we were having a special time together, making memories, and living with each other in a way that we’d probably not have a chance to again. And after we left Annapolis and crossed the eastern shore, we both silently picked up the pace, heading home a little quicker. As we reviewed the last leg on our maps, Peter’s suggestions about how far we might ride rose and rose, and we seemed to fly up old Route 9 along the Jersey shore. We’d had a great trip together, in the large home of our country, but we were eager to return to the home of our family.

I am proud of what Peter and I accomplished, but the accomplishment of the ride is rather small. We just pedaled, though for a long time. How hard is that? I am moved that we did this together. How lucky am I to have had this chance, huh? Most of all though, I was awed by the power of home and love, no matter where we were. Often my heart just swole as I rode behind Peter, just watching him spin, wondering what a man our child has become, amazed that I came to know this anew through such a simple child-like activity, riding a bike. I was moved by how powerful home is for people. We visited with children under the trees of their tenant farm home, and it was home; we talked with an old couple near the mountains of Hungry Mother State Park and learned how much they loved their home there in Virginia; we stayed at the Danishes’ home in Washington and the DiCensos’ in Annapolis, and reveled in their sharing of home and hospitality. We were two sweaty guys on the road, and everywhere we looked, it was someone’s home, and everywhere we were, people we met shared what they had.

I've driven by many of these places before and sneered at the glitz and the schlock of suburbia, at rundown ramshackle country cabins, at yuppie rowhouses, at trailers and RVs, at fancy digs on the bay. Riding my bike far from home taught me how condescending and self-belittling that judgment about other folks’ homes is. Riding with Peter taught me how I’d misperceived how he has grown; riding far from Melanie taught me how much I love her. In short it was a wonderful ride. The land we live in is magnificent; and our land’s people are even more gracious and magnificent than the land they share; and we all are terribly provincial, though kind, when we stand still. Most of all, however, I learned again, and need to keep learning over and over, that though fundamental truths may not change, they’re always true in a different way than I had thought before. Like how much fun it is to ride a bike.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why do you Relay?

Jenna Hart '14 shared her very personal reasons for committing to the Relay for Life. Thanks to Jenna's intiative, the Relay will be held at Peddie for the first time on April 27, 2014. 

On Sunday, April 27th, Peddie will be hosting its first Relay for Life. As an event whose proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society, the goal of Relay is to both raise money and awareness of a disease that has affected all of us in our own separate ways. Relay for Life is focused on honoring those who are currently fighting cancer, those who have lost their battle with cancer, and those whose lives have been forever changed by cancer. In Peddie’s community, many of us have been personally touched by this disease through our faculty, peers, and families. Together with Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, we can make a difference.

Relay for Life often asks its participants: Why do you Relay?

So I asked myself this question too.

Like most kids, I heard stories of my parents’ childhoods. I heard about my dad’s childhood, growing up in Jersey City, and attending boarding school. When my dad told stories about his youth, I never completely understood how his childhood experiences shaped him into the person standing in front of me.

Jerry Hart '69
After my dad’s mom and dad both passed away, he was raised by his much-older brother and his wife. They made the decision to send him to a boarding school in central Jersey, called the Peddie School. Beginning when he was in 7th grade, Peddie taught him about life, living, and loving. He discovered his passion for running, lettering in both track and cross country during his time as a student. He found a life-long mentor in the coach for whom the track is named after: Robert Bullet Lawson. As one friend explained, he became the “prototypical Peddie boy. Self-assured, self-motivated, [coming] from limited assets and a poor neighborhood.” Peddie was his parent, his home, and his life. Upon graduating in 1969 and attending college, Peddie was never far from my dad’s mind. After his career as an Army officer, his fellow soldiers recalled his lifelong goal to return to his alma mater, to give back to the place that gave him everything. After retiring from the army, my dad took a position, at the place that was his very core: Peddie.

When I was little, I was running around campus like Anna Treese and Ian Stewart do now, as a faculty child. I ate dinner in the dining hall. I screamed the Ala Viva at Blair Day. Center Campus was my playground. Peddie was my favorite place in the world. Peddie was where I felt most comfortable.

Fast forward to my 8th grade year. I was in the midst of my application to Peddie, when my family began to notice changes in my dad’s normal tendencies. He had been the cross country coach for 15 years; but this year was different. He hadn’t been feeling well and had lost a lot of weight over the course of the fall. After lots of persuasion, my dad finally went to the doctor, who determined that he had stage three pancreatic cancer. He continued to dedicate his time and energy to Peddie, despite his depleted energy from the chemo and radiation. The spring came along, and I, just as my dad, decided to attend Peddie come September. I was so proud of myself, and I knew that I was making him proud, too, when I chose Peddie, which made me feel even better about my decision. Subconsciously, I probably chose to attend for the wrong reasons; I wanted to come because I wanted to be just like my Dad, a person I admired greatly and the hero in my life. It was impossible not to notice the shocking changes in the person I idolized. Over the course of 8 months, my dad went from a healthy, fit man, to someone almost unrecognizable to me. My dad, my hero, was wasting away.

Hart '69 with his 2008 Cross Country team

Immediately after starting my freshman year at Peddie, my dad’s health took a sharp turn for the worst; he had lost even more weight, even though I thought there was nothing left to lose; he was only ten pounds more than I was at that point. His blue eyes, usually filled with life, were beginning to look empty, like a ghost inhabited my dad’s body. His speech started to slow, and within my first two weeks as a Falcon, he was barely recognizable, both physically and mentally. My brother Jeremy returned from his first year of college, knowing that we didn’t have much time left as a family. When he returned, we had five hours together. On September 18th, 2010, a few weeks after I began Peddie, my dad passed away from pancreatic cancer.

When I returned to school, Peddie was no longer the oasis where I grew up. It was my worst nightmare. Memories of my dad’s sunken cheeks and the hum of his oxygen tank met me with each step. The smell Dunkin Donuts coffee reminded me of the extra-large coffee with two creams and two Sweet-n-Lows he drank each morning. Headed towards the dining hall, I was haunted by flashes of my dad walking the same steps. The blank stare he had the last time I saw him alive is one that often flashed in my head. Those memories, images of him suffering, met me each time I was on campus. It put me in a daze through many of my first’s as a student.

Each day since freshman year has gotten easier and easier, and now, I’m here. Peddie is not the oasis it was when I was little, nor is it the nightmare it had become once my dad was no longer here. Peddie is once again my home. It kept me together while everything around me fell apart, and it loved me when I felt alone. It taught me to be happy, and to embrace this place and all it has to offer. I decided that the only way to truly embrace my dad’s memory in my everyday life was to be a constant reminder of what he stood for, to cherish the place he loved for most of his life.

Peddie is my connection to my dad; it is everything he stood for, everything he was, and everything he loved. This link has helped me to grow into the person that I am, a person who I know my dad would be proud of, because I had the guidance from the place that made him who he was, too. This is why I Relay.

So when asked the question: why do you Relay? My short answer is this:

I Relay for my dad: the person who taught me to love and be loved by a place that makes me the best version of myself.

Now Peddie, I ask you: why do you Relay?

Thank you and Ala Viva.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paying it forward with Pepsi & Twinkies

Christian Deger '13 returned to campus recently to reinstate a Peddie tradition.

A Peddie tradition was reinvigorated last Thursday when Christian Deger ’13 showed up on campus to distribute Pepsi and Twinkies to students. Both as a tribute to the beloved Sandy Tattersall, who served as Dean of Students at Peddie for more than three decades until his retirement in 2012, and as an expression of gratitude to the school, Deger’s generosity was enthusiastically appreciated by students and faculty alike.

Juniors and seniors, familiar with “T’s” tradition, were happy to see it return, and younger students were eager to hear the story behind the crazy food combination.

“Looking at his SUV backed up onto the lawn sporting vanity plates that say "Ala Viva," said current Dean of Students Peter McClellan, “With Springstein's Jersey Girl blaring during DMX, as smiling Peddie students came to get their Pepsis and Twinkies, it was impossible not to smile and have fun.”

But the message behind the deed translated to much more than simply “fun,” McClellan explained.

“At Peddie we frequently remind students that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Christian's expression of gratitude towards Peddie and, more specifically, for Sandy Tattersall, is about as heartfelt a way of saying thank you as one could imagine. Certain that Christian will, like so many alumni, remain loyal to Peddie, I am confident that we will be able to continue our great work, making kids happy in the process, always!”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Poco a Poco

Nelson Mai '14 spent the first week of his spring break in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic teaching English to children from 1st to 5th grade.

Teaching is really difficult, I discovered; especially to young children who may not be raised to understand the importance of education. What I learned from this trip is that patience is really important. Through patience (and friendliness) in teaching, I picked up one of the core values that Outreach360 embraces; “Poco a Poco” which translates to “Little by Little.” 

Some children loved to play around and not pay attention in class. We discovered that these children needed more attentive care. Surprisingly, through more individualized teaching, we realized that these children are could be some of the smartest in class. They just did not learn that “participating” in class and “learning” can be considered cool, too!

Poco a Poco, through our presence, we served the community of Monte Cristi and hopefully helped it grow linguistically and more globally aware, while learning so much ourselves!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bringing Peddie Spirit to YuMiao Elementary School, Shanghai

After a teaching experience in Cambodia last summer, Amy '16 is committed to working with children in underserved communities, and hopes to inspire others to help as well. Over spring break, Amy led a group of Peddie students, who were visiting China as part of the Asian studies program, in a visit to YuMiao elementary school in rural Shanghai.

First, I had to describe to Peddie students the idea behind
the program and their upcoming visit to YuMai
Our group's mission was to spend the day with students from YuMaio elementary school in rural Shanghai. Both the students there and the Peddie students had a great time. We used "Chinglish" to communicate with kids; we danced with the kids; we played games with them, and we even took them backpacking. At the end of the day the students from YuMaio made me promise them that I will be back. I hope that Peddie students will help me keep my pinkie-promise to them!

Of course, I alone cannot rewrite entire education systems currently operating on minimal resources; but I can use my strength and resources to inspire others. Continuing to bring Peddie students to YuMiao would be a great first step!

When we arrived, I translated some of the
teachers' words to the Peddie group
Then, we all tried to learn the games the students were playing
In the classroom, Peddie students led the children in games like hangman

Class break!
Outside, there was time for more games & even some dancing! 

At the end of the day, we were able to give the children 
each a backpack and a gift from their wishlist - they were very happy!
We had a great visit, and hope to be back with our friends at YuMai soon!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A closer look at success

Frank Anastasio '12 returned to campus during a break from his studies at The George Washington University.                       

Hello everyone. Man, it’s good to be back. To all of the old faces: it is very good to see you all again. To all of the new faces: welcome to Peddie and it is very nice to meet you. I hope you all are having a good day so far. I am Frank Anastasio, a 2012 Peddie graduate. I currently attend The George Washington University in Washington DC where I am majoring in Finance and Minoring in Chinese. I am a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and I have held internships in Congress, with Congresswomen Kathy McMorris Rogers, as well as this summer, I will be working for a private equity fund in Shanghai. 

During my time at Peddie I was captain of the football team, captain of the lacrosse team, prefect in Mariboe dorm, Gold Key society member, Falcon’s nest member, etc. -  the list goes on. Although from the outside it would seem that I did well here at Peddie, the sad truth is that I can honestly look you in the eyes and tell you that I did not take full advantage of my Peddie experience. I could have worked harder in the classroom, on the field, and within the community. 

And there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about that fact. 

So here is where my first challenge to all of you begins; this includes teachers and students alike. I challenge you to take full advantage of your time here at Peddie. Work as hard as you possibly can in the classroom while maintaining a healthy life style. Give every ounce of what you’ve got on the field, on the court, in the pool or whenever you wear the Peddie letters on your chest. And get engaged in the community to become closer to the people around you. 

You were all selected to be here. Therefore, you are all special in your own way. Geez, I didn’t realize how much that made me sound like a kindergarten teacher. That was cliché and a bit scary! Rgardless, it’s true. Get to know someone you would not normally hang out with. Join a club you wouldn’t normally join and invest yourself in it. Commit to things 100 percent and fully immerse yourself into whatever it is that you are doing. Go to the plays that your peers put on - we have a fantastic arts department! Go to all the games and see your friends in action. But above all, achieve in the classroom because that will prepare you for the future.  Your grades and your achievements at Peddie are extremely important and will be remembered for the rest of your life.

Now time for my second challenge to you all, a challenge that should be met by everyone. It is a simple challenge. I challenge you to be a good person. Being a good person consists of three characteristics in my opinion: kindness, honesty, and intelligence. These attributes will take you very far in life. 

Intelligence. Knowledge is something you all clearly strive for because you are all here at Peddie; however, this is not the only type of intelligence I am referring to. Emotional intelligence is also extremely important, knowing what people feel and making an effort to benefit someone other than yourself. Be intelligent. 

Honesty. Have good integrity. When no one is looking it is easy to fall into temptation. However, life is much easier when you are always honest. Honesty will aid you when you least expect it. Be honest. 

Finally, kindness. People are much more receptive to kindness and reason. Be kind to everyone around you. When I was at Peddie, at times I thought I was too cool for school and would make fun of other people. I stayed with one group of friends and would shut others out. Well, I’ll tell you this; that type of mentality is a losing mentality. True winners have the courage to be kind to everyone and give everyone a chance at friendship. Meeting more people only enhances your worldliness and provides you the opportunity to learn about cultures that you don’t already know about. My closest friends at school are form England, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Iran. And I have become a much more cultured person because of their friendships. So much so that I no longer chew with my mouth open or use my shirt as a napkin. Ok, well I guess I still do those things, but that's not the type of culture I’m talking about. So please have the courage to befriend everyone within your community because I guarantee you will be amazed with the connections you create. 

Which leads me to the second half of this challenge. Our former headmaster Mr. Green once said, “We are elite, although we are not elitists.” I want you all to take this to heart. Be able to talk to the plumber and to the doctor as Mr. Green would say. A true sign of wealth and success is humility. So get involved in the community, make new friends, and be a common person, but strive for uncommon goals.

My third and final challenge is the most significant thing that I can ever pass along to you as future Peddie Alumni. And that is to pursue your dreams. Explore and explore until you find what you are passionate about, then hang on to it and make your dreams become reality. Do what you want to do in life - after all it is your life. Albert Einstein once said, Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

You see, society likes to tell us which subjects in school are important to study and whoever makes more money is more successful. This is all nonsense. Study a subject that you are passionate about, work in a field that you actually care about. If you do what you love and you do it well, you are going to be successful. Never let somebody tell you what to do with your life and never let money become more important to you than your relationships with the people around you. 

Have love for Peddie because Peddie truly loves you. I love Peddie. This is my home. When people think of me I want them to think of Peddie as well. Use the resources you have here at Peddie, take a leap of faith and be the author of your own life. Now I’d like to leave you by sharing with you something that I wrote and thank you to those who are still awake.

Reality is that society is comprised of people.
Reality is that people make up the world.
Therefore, the world, people, and reality don’t make much sense to me.
Why does race still influence our society?
Why do human beings still commit crimes against other human beings?
Why is there still war?
Why do people still not believe in themselves and think that they cannot become something or cannot do something when we watch people achieve their dreams every day?

This is why I choose to reject societal reality and I dare to create my own.

I challenge each and every one of you to create your own realities, and maybe one day, I too will have the courage to follow you all.

Thanks for listening

Ala Viva