KENSINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (8th District) invoked the character and achievements of Albert Einstein as he addressed the Albert Einstein High School Class of 2018 during its graduation Tuesday afternoon.
Einstein stood strong against Nazism and fascism. He was a scientific genius who valued imagination over knowledge and an immigrant who in 1933 left the violence and hatred Adolph Hitler was spewing and began life in America, Raskin told the students.
Drawing parallels to today’s world and the controversial issue of immigration, Raskin noted that Einstein was a German-Jewish immigrant who was stateless for many years and couldn’t speak English when he moved from Europe to America.
Yet, he rose to the top of the scientific world and started America on a course to create the atomic bomb after warning U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt about Germany’s nuclear weapons research.
Although Einstein was a pacifist, he understood the need to stop Hitler, Raskin told the members of the senior class and their families.
The physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity hated testing and learning by rote, according to Raskin, who said that Einstein would be proud of the high school in Kensington that bears his name.
“This school is not dedicated to testing,” Raskin said. “It emphasizes not rote learning, but questioning.”
Time Magazine declared Einstein the “person of the [20th] century,” said Raskin, who then pointed out that this century’s honoree has yet to be named.
It could be a woman, a man, an immigrant, “anyone of you sitting here today,” he said. “The future remains uncertain.”
The next honoree could be as admirable as Einstein or “someone who shows contempt for peace, humanity, knowledge,” Raskin said.
“Like many of you, he rejected fake news,” Raskin said of Einstein, whom he described as a scientist that believed in facts.
The congressman praised the students he met on Capitol Hill during recent school walkouts and protests, as they spoke out for gun control following the fatal shooting of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“I am proud of you,” he said. “The world needs you. America needs you. The environment needs you. You have all the resources you need to remake the world.”
Referring to his current political colleagues as “the powers-that-be,” Raskin called the graduating seniors “the powers that ought to be and soon will be.”
He encouraged the new graduates to forge their paths in the world, but always remember the classmates, teachers and family from your youth “who made you what you are today.”
During the ceremony, which was held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., each of the graduates had been given a red rose which they were then asked to give to someone they loved, respected and who gave them the courage to enable them to reach this milestone.
AEHS Principal James Fernandez also spoke at the graduation
He called it “phenomenal” that 88 percent of the senior class would move on to college.
He urged the students to “stay the same. Don’t change.” Continue to like each other, get along with others and understand and accept each other’s differences, he said.
“Grow old. Get a career. Raise families, but don’t change.”