For the commencement ceremony of the largest class to ever graduate from Shaker High School, North Colonie Central School District administrators knew they had to recruit a special speaker to deliver the speech.
That is why they had asked national best-selling author and Shaker High alumnus Joseph Finder to speak at the 50th graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 28, at the University at Albany SEFCU arena.
Finder began his speech with an anecdote about his teenage daughter flipping through his old yearbook and laughing at her father's appearance when he was in high school.
I was going to come here and talk about how cool I was in high school, he said, "but there are people in the audience " parents " who went to Shaker with me, and they know the truth."
Delivering a fairly non-traditional commencement speech, instead of focusing on the obvious " his success since graduation " Finder warned the graduates of rejection and failure.
Finder reminded students that "successful writers are not always the most talented ones."
He also went on to describe some famous faces who began their careers with rejection, including the Beatles, George Lucas and Theodor Geisel, the author of the Dr. Seuss books.
"The fact is, the world is full of idiots," he said. "They are gatekeepers who only drive by looking in the rearview mirror toward the past."
Finder advised the graduates to look toward the future and start their own trends. He concluded his speech by reminding the former Shaker students that no matter what they wear and how "cool" they thought they were in high school, "Your kids are going to look at your yearbook and make fun of you."
The theme of looking forward was mirrored by Board of Education President Joan Hart, who advised students to, "Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow."