Robert Crawford (Park Class of 2014) returns to campus this year, at least virtually, as the 2020 graduation speaker. Robert embodies many of Park’s core values. He is humble, kind, and empathetic. He is also accomplished, smart, confident and athletic. He is wise beyond his years, and I could not help but walk away from my recent conversation with him feeling that this guy is going to do amazing things. Robert credits Park for shaping him into the person he is today.
Robert began his 10-year tenure at Park as a kindergartener afraid of fire drills and fearful of performing at Yule Festival. He finished as a member of Student Council, a veteran Red Sox intern via Park’s work-study program, and a world traveller – with Park’s language trip to Spain marking his first journey abroad. He maintained his leadership role throughout high school as Roxbury Latin’s class vice president, and is now majoring in Government modified with Economics and minoring in Spanish at Dartmouth. He turned his work-study experience into a successful internship with the Red Sox last summer.
Robert explains that growing up at Park within such a caring and supportive environment bestowed in him an innate feeling of confidence. This belief in himself opened the door for Robert to take healthy risks and move outside his comfort zone time and time again. Instead of asking himself why, Park manifested a mindset of why not. During his ninth grade year, the Park hockey team needed a goalie. Robert thought why not and goaltended for the season with only a neighborhood pond hockey background to go on. Although Robert did not begin his successful cross-country career until high school at Roxbury Latin, Park nurtured the mindset that got him to the starting line. Thanks to Park, Robert speaks up in class comfortably and confidently even if what he has to say is not always the easy answer. His ninth grade trip to Spain sparked a realization as to why you learn a language and began his journey to fluency. The Park community and spirit is still alive and well within Robert even though he is no longer walking the halls.
Robert credits Park with providing him with many unique opportunities that he may not have otherwise encountered if he had not completed his 10-year arc at Park, opportunities that are not often accessible to middle schoolers.
Robert is grateful for Park’s close-knit culture and the emphasis placed on being a good person. He recalls each step of his Park experience as consistently instilling and nurturing empathy and a “do the right thing” culture so much so that it becomes the underlying fabric of who you are. No teacher stands apart for him because they were all special, except perhaps Ms. Gilligan who guided him through that first Yule Festival.
Like the rest of us, Robert saw his spring plans abruptly interrupted. I could almost feel Robert shrug over the phone with a grace and steadfast resilience as he explained that he is spending his sophomore spring back at home with his family instead of in Hanover, NH, with his friends, how his highly anticipated summer semester at Dartmouth was cancelled, and how his beloved club baseball season was sacked.
Although Park is not actually mentioned in Robert’s impressive resume, it quickly becomes clear that Robert believes Park is omnipresent throughout all of his experiences and accomplishments. Eighth graders, parents and faculty, listen up during graduation because I think you’re in for a treat as you listen to Robert’s message. I look forward to hearing it myself!