(farewell speech of Nathan Siegelaub)
A little more than four years ago I was approached by Gordon Tepper, a former Progressive School teacher, who asked me if I was interested in contributing to a radio broadcast that would air every Friday and inform students and staff about news outside and inside the four walls of PROGRESSIVE. Without a moment’s hesitation, I jumped on board and, together with Caroline Walsh, we set sail in uncharted waters and established PROGRESSIVE AM. When Gordon embarked on a new career, Norma Colon took over the announcing duties. Add Quinton from sixth grade and you’ve got the complete roster of crew members for our weekly radio show. Unfortunately, with the year winding down, so too is my association with PROGRESSIVE AM. This will be our last broadcast of the year, and my final Friday morning commentary.
Graduation looms. The very idea of leaving my family and friends at PROGRESSIVE and striking out in new, unknown directions focuses all my nerve endings on what has been and what will never be again. Please allow me to offer up my thank-you’s and tributes to all those who have meant so much to me before I make my way out the door. If not for these people, if not for this school, I would not be where I am today, academically, socially, emotionally, spiritually.
First off, I’d like to extend my heart-felt gratitude to all my teachers, past and present, here at Progressive. From gaining basic skills in kindergarten from Sangeeta and Jennifer , to practicing the multiplication table in first grade with Claire and Debbie, to examining the age of dinosaurs and astrology in second grade under the guidance of Shannon and Kevin, to trekking across the United States of America in third grade with Cynthia and Jessica, to broadening our horizons and playing the Colony Game in Eric and Gordon’s domain in fourth grade, to experimenting in science and exploring the English language in all its beauty and complexity with Lorraine and Norma in fifth grade, to traveling back into olden times and civilizations in sixth grade with Shelly and Shannon, to getting deeply involved in all academic areas and worldly pursuits in the Middle School under the tutelage of Jen, Karen, Mark and Val, to immersing myself in all things artistic and cultural with Bruce, Carol, Dhyana, Laura, and Rob, my stay at the Progressive School has been one vast treat for the body, mind, and soul. Progressive, undoubtedly, has prepared me for high school and the rest of my life. In the words of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.”
And then there’s the incomparable Benay. Thank you for all you’ve done and all you do, Benay, from making copies to making everything run smoothly, from having a band-aid and thermometer close at hand to having a kind word and a generous heart to all those in need— you are our go-to-person! My appreciation also goes out to JoAnn, who is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. I will miss supervising gym classes on Wednesday mornings with you!
Finally, there’s the individual who stands at the epicenter of Progressive, Eric Jacobson. Eric’s vision has enabled me to see clearly that anything is possible, that everyone is accountable for their actions. Under Eric’s watchful eyes, I and countless others have grown and developed our personal interests and group dynamics. Eric, the school you have molded in Sarkar’s image is one of epic proportions, even if somewhat small in size. Progressive remains a magical place where kids can feel safe, make friends be themselves and aim high in a world that is not always quite so progressive or welcoming. Through the environment you have created, we are united, students and teachers alike. Baba Nam Kevalam! Love is all around!
Reflecting on my time in Progressive, one word comes to mind: quality. The school sets the bar high and then challenges you to go higher. I have learned more, attempted more, done more than I could have ever imagined. The Progressive School of Long Island is my home away from home, and to bid farewell to the place I love will be most difficult. My hope is that all of you fortunate enough to attend this school will take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you. For starters, there’s a vacancy in the radio booth, and it is open for the taking. To my successor, don’t hesitate to call on me for help or advice should you need it. After all, we are family here at Progressive. Thank you all and I will miss each and every one of you!!!