Senior Speeches: Hannah Bilka ’19

September 27, 2018

To me, change meant growing up. It was a sense of maturity, and discovering the values and priorities in my life. 

Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

During my sophomore year, I sat upstairs in that balcony looking down onto this stage. I watched each senior in the class of 2017 stand here one by one sharing their speeches. Being me, I instantly started stressing about when my time would come. Fast forward two years, and I’m standing here in the spotlight. It feels like yesterday I was starting my first week at Shattuck. As I reflect on my past, I realize one thing. I am not the same person who once sat in that balcony. I have changed.

To some people, change is a scary thing. It’s letting go of someone who you once knew and becoming someone else, someone unknown. To me, change meant growing up. It was a sense of maturity, and discovering the values and priorities in my life. There are three lessons in particular that stick out to me.

#1. Home is not a place but a feeling. A feeling of security and comfort. A feeling that you can be yourself. A feeling that you are surrounded by people who love and support you. I learned this lesson over the summer.  A group of my Shattuck teammates and I met in Boston to play in a hockey tournament. I hadn’t seen these people in two months, but I had the same feeling as if we were back on campus. This made me realize the friendships I’ve made go far beyond the arch and our time here at Shattuck.

We all chose a different path from the traditional high school student. We came to Shattuck with separate goals and dreams, but we are united through a community. Here I was welcomed with open arms to another family. These bonds of friendship will last a lifetime.

#2 Use your setbacks and defeats as fuel for even greater victories.” My first year of Shattuck, our U16 team went 47-8-5. But, I don’t remember the 47 games we won. The only thing I remember was the last game at Nationals, when we lost to my old team, the Pittsburgh Pens Elite. I experienced a wave of emotions that I never felt before. Instead of being mad that the season was done, it motivated me for the next year. I was determined to come back and win. I was using defeat as motivation for victory. 365 days later and I can call myself a national champion.

#3 Count your blessings. Think about where you are today. Think of the people who have helped you get to this point in your life. For me, they are my parents. They gave up their time and drove me to early morning practices and home from late nights. My highs, they were there for me… my lows, there for me when I needed them most. My parents gave me every opportunity to succeeded in what I loved and I am forever grateful for that.

Coming to Shattuck as a 15 year old, I only had the mindset of becoming a better hockey player. What I soon realized was Shattuck was much bigger than the sport I came here for. I made friendships and had experiences have made a lasting impact in my life. I am grateful for all the coaches, teachers, parents, teammates and friends I have made. Shattuck will always hold a special place in my heart.

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