"Dressing Up," Weekly Standard, June 19, 2015.
Commencement remarks delivered at the John Adams Academy, a charter high school in Roseville,
California, on June 5, 2015.
A graduation ceremony is a moment of pride in which we do honor to our graduates—and congratulations to you all—and to their parents and their teachers who were such a help to them. Of course the school gives the honors, but the school consists of students and teachers, supported by parents. So we are doing honor to ourselves. Why should we take the time to do honor to ourselves? Isn’t this a waste of time, effort, and expense? Why stop what we are doing to praise ourselves for doing it?
This is a special school because it specializes in the classics. I too specialize in the classics, and I am a teacher. So I will use the time to teach you something, so that we don’t waste it. I will teach you something that could be learned from Plato and Alexis de Tocqueville, but I won’t refer to their texts and I won’t give a classroom lecture. Let’s return to what we are doing now, holding a celebration.