…connecting with (and SHOCKING) his graduating seniors!
Forget Facebook. Teens have taken over Twitter! They have condensed their thoughts and recorded their actions into meme-like tweets of 140 characters, and have learned to live instantly and publicly via their smartphones. This is a culture. Educators are recognizing Twitter as a legitimate forum for teens (and as a powerful learning network for themselves!). In the unusual commencement speech below, Principal Mark Dziatczak gently pokes tongue-in-cheek fun of teen tweeters and himself as he steps out of his comfort zone to embrace social media’s multiple purposes. Kudos, Mark, for daring to be a Twitter-newbie, and for engaging and communicating with students via your tweets, twit pics and sense of humor… READ ON!
GRADUATION-June 8, 2013- My name is Mark Dziatczak, and I am proud to serve as Principal of Troy High School. Ladies and gentlemen, we gather today to celebrate the accomplishments of Troy High School’s incredible Class of 2013. And let me tell you this is an amazing group. They have it all – outstanding grades, through the roof test scores, exemplary community service, Student Government Board of Delegate Reps, Mr. Tennis, WDIV Pep Assembly champs, international google competition winners, DECA national champions, national chemistry Olympiad finalists, science Olympiad state champions, scholastic arts winners, the list goes on and on – wow! This is a sharp, well rounded and grounded, yet ambitious group that seemingly only knows how to pursue excellence with a tenacious spirit.
Today’s Colt graduates seem to stop at nothing to be successful. I ask you, what group of teenagers could possibly transform a fun, spring-time, happy, simple squirt gun fight into a strategic, high stakes, win at all costs, ‘Call of Duty’ style water war where participants conspire to commit crimes in order to record a water kill on an opponent? I’ll tell you who, Troy High’s Class of 2013.
So, the Class of 2013 tripped over its own ambition a few times while walking the halls of Troy High School. Fortunately, most of the time, our graduates did not. Because for every chicken nugget they hurled across the cafeteria, they turned around and won a league championship and earned a scholarship. For every Saturday School served, they aced the ACT. In fact, from a historic perspective, it is difficult to identify a THS graduating class that is so accomplished. Ladies and gentlemen, to their credit, the Class of 2013 has played the largest role in our school’s highest ever recorded performance rankings from the Washington Post and Newsweek. Largely because of the scholastic efforts of this graduating class, Troy High School was recently named the #1 most challenging high school in the State of Michigan by the Washington Post. And, in the same year Newsweek’s online magazine ranked Troy High as the #1 traditional, public high school in the State of Michigan. So, Class of 2013, because of your efforts, I now get to do this…
Now when I learned of these #1 rankings I immediately tweeted this out to all my followers on Twitter. I thought this was really cool, because I was a first-time Twitter user this past year. It was amazing how many people ‘favorited’ and ‘retweeted’ the news about THS. For those that are unfamiliar, Twitter users establish an account with an account name (for all you old-schoolers out there like me, think of it as a CB handle that starts with the @ symbol). Tweeters receive messages known as tweets from others only by following them on Twitter. Following them merely means that you elect to receive their messages or tweets. And, one’s tweets are only heard if other twitter users are following the tweeter.
Finally, one other feature of twitter allows a user to create a hashtag, which basically helps organize tweets by letters that follow the # symbol on the keyboard. For example, sometimes when people tweet about something really great that happened during a particular day, they might type in #BestDayEver into the message. This allows a user to see all the messages that include the #BestDayEver in one grouping.
Anyway, I am now an avid Twitter user, and I think it is especially important that the principal of the recently ranked #1 high school in Michigan should certainly be a user of social media to communicate with constituents. What is really neat about it is you can use it for many purposes. To demonstrate, I will share some examples from actual THS Class of 2013 tweets:
[Editor’s Note: audience of graduating seniors went very still at the mention of actual THS student tweet examples]
Finally, the purpose of my favorite student tweet: you can be VERY CLEVER –
Anyway, this Twitter thing has been fantastic. I actually had to use Twitter earlier this year when I was in a really sticky situation at school. I got into a car accident with Xinrui Yang’s Toyota that was parked in the visitor lot after school. Yes, it is true story. I backed into Xinrui’s Toyota earlier this year. This is a very bad thing for a principal. Worse yet, I had to tell my wife what happened. So, I sent a series of tweets to her. It was pretty embarrassing:
In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Class of 2013 for a fantastic four years. Graduates, please make sure you hug your loved ones today extra hard and say thanks for all their support during your high school career. Here is my final tweet to Troy High’s Class of 2013:
Your time is done #FinalBell. Your lockers are closed #Slam. Troy High will soon be but a memory #Nostalgia.
Work hard, live your dreams, & serve thy neighbors well #Citizenship. #Believe.
Find direction from within #Compass and never, ever, ever quit. #Persistence.
CUL8R, Class of ‘13.
Mark Dziatczak (@MDZLeadership) is currently concluding his 8th year as principal at Troy High School. Mark has physics and secondary education bachelor degrees from Wayne State University, a masters degree in K-12 administration from Michigan State University, an education specialist degree in educational leadership from Oakland University, and is currently a doctoral student at OU studying the effects of the early acquisition of postsecondary credit on students. He resides in Troy with his educator wife Lisa, and two children, Alaina and Anthony.
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Edited by Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools
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