Former White House Chief of Staff Shares Wise Words with Recent Graduates

Sarah Ryan, News Section Editor

Anxiously awaiting their diplomas, the Class of 2017 had the honor of listening to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. during their commencement ceremony. More commonly known as “Andy,” Card was born and raised in Holbrook, graduating from Holbrook Jr. Sr. High School in 1965. He could relate to the graduates very well, as he had walked the very same halls just decades before. During his speech, Card inspired the audience with stories from his own life – of his high school years and his political career. He is well-known for being the first to inform President Bush of the 9/11 attacks, an event most students were too young to remember. Even so, they live in a world that is forever changed by it.

In an interview following the ceremony, Card shared more of his high school memories, including and especially meeting his wife, Kathleen Card. He was a leader long before his political career, from his role in student government to success as a student-athlete. When fundraising for his class, Card did not shy away from eccentricity. Some of the most memorable events were piano wrecking contests and greased pig races. Remembering his peers, Card says that the class was comprised of “really good athletes, really good students, and lots of comradery.”

Card speaks fondly of Holbrook, crediting the community as a crucial part of his political success. His generation faced a lot of societal conflicts, from issues with integration to protests of the Vietnam War. Card was not one to shy away from these issues. He became interested in politics at a young age and attended town meetings during his teenage years. “Holbrook was very dynamic at the time,” he says, “There were lots of things going on in the town.”

Card also mentioned how dramatically different Holbrook is compared to when he was growing up. Though his class was considered small, with only 170 students, it was nearly triple the size of those that have recently graduated. Additionally, the school building that is now in disrepair was fairly new during his adolescence. This building will be replaced with the new K-12 complex, which Card finds “very exciting.” He says that, while there may be some challenges, it’s important to take the risk. If it proves successful, Holbrook will be a role model for school districts throughout the state. In his opinion, this could lead to a “rebirth” for Holbrook. There will be advancement and innovation, but at its core, the spirit of the town will remain the same.

Card’s opinion of his hometown has not changed much. “I love Holbrook,” he says, “I’m still very proud of Holbrook.” Nevertheless, Card says that coming back can be daunting. It’s full of the people know who you really are. They know where you came from, your roots. While the town may not be what it once was, it will never really change. Holbrook will always be a place that people can call home.