Ever Upward! The Words of Elias Lieberman

January 1929

Dear Graduates:

     You are the first class in the history of Thomas Jefferson to be graduated in the morning. By noon of Thursday, January 31, 1929, the words will have been pronounced that terminate your formal connection with Thomas Jefferson and send you out into the world as graduates. The morning ceremonial is symbolic of your careers and a good omen. You, too, are in the morning of your lives. You are nearer the rising sun than the setting sun. But the day's end will arrive, inexorably enough, and it will come all too soon. In the meantime, you and I will continue to be fascinated by the glorious adventure known as "life."

     What are the things that matter in life? Even great sages are not in complete agreement. Let me put down for your consideration what I regard as worth-while. These are the things by which I set great store:

     Faith in God and in the ever-ascending place of man in His scheme.

     The chance to do good on a small scale or on a large scale--a justification for one's life in terms of some achievement for humanity.

     Culture, another word for efforts at complete adjustment with the best thought and the finest contributions of man in the arts, in literature, in science and in the difficult art of human relations.

     Abounding good health, a joy in living, the possession of a machine that hits buoyantly on all cylinders and keeps going until it must stop.

     When the sun finally sets below the horizon for you and me, may we meet the unknown with no regrets. Perhaps, to our surprise it won't be night at all over there, but another more beautiful day.

     Yours sincerely,

    Elias Lieberman


June 1930


Dear Graduates:

     The writing of a semi-annual message to our graduates reminds me automatically of the inexorable flight of time. Four short years ago you were freshmen. Now you are leaving us to enter colleges and higher institutions as well as the world of business and industry.

     What has Jefferson done for you? What have you done for Jefferson? Can you look back upon a career of usefulness to your fellow-students and to your school? Do you now feel more able than you previously did to face the vicissitudes of living? Are you habitually clean and well-mannered? Is your speech that of a cultured person? Have you succeeded in developing such powers and talents as the good Lord has given you? Are you, at least, on the road to self-realization and self-adjustment? Think these questions over.

     We have tried to make Jefferson a school with a soul. Our self-government projects have been encouraged in order to develop your initiative. Our intensive art and cultural activities during and after school hours were intended to prepare you for sweet and happy leisure after the day's toil. Is the impress of Jefferson upon you?

     With best wishes and pleasant memories,

     Your friend and principal,

    Elias Lieberman

Principal Elias Lieberman
Thomas Jefferson High School
Brooklyn, New York

June 1932


Dear Graduates:

     As these lines are being penned, I am looking forward to the ninth consecutive year of life for our beloved school, a school that has tried its best to be for all of us an Alma Mater. Frankly I wonder, in a changing world where economic pressure to such a great extent dominates thought and life, what the influence of even a good school can be. Does a high school tend to fade in one's mind as the years go by, along with its teaching and it's teachers, its comrades, its friends, its multiform activities in and out of the classroom? Or, on the contrary, is there for the rest of life a Jefferson stamp on those who have lived within our walls for four years?

     Running through my mind frequently is the thought that I should like my boys and girls to have the privileges according to the sons and daughters of the rich. In small private schools throughout the country every student is regarded as an individual to be developed according to his strength or weakness. Here, too, in spite of the fact that we have such a large family, we have not forgotten that each is a person distinct from others. Now you who read this and are about to graduate, or have been graduated, can check up on your own achievements. We want you all to speak well in the manner of refined and educated men and women. We want you to know how to behave in good society and to make a favorable impression on people whose opinions count. We want you to be facing by this time toward your life work, not merely to have an idea what it is to be but of the obstacles that must be surmounted and the steps that must be taken. Also we hope that some time during these happy high school years, you have made a few lasting friendships that will pull you up and not down, that will hearten you in the hour of temporary failure and cheer your renewed effort. If the school has succeeded in helping you reach these objectives, it has not worked in vain.

     May success, arm in arm with happiness, meet you smiling as you get your diploma and never leave you thereafter.

     Your friend and principal,

Elias Lieberman

 You can read Principal Lieberman's words to the graduating class of January 1936 by clicking here.

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