Senior Speeches: Swimming Freely

December 09, 2016


“This fish swims freely despite water pressure, and does not listen solely to others’ suggestions. Just as I could express myself through portraying various figures on the paper, I could take initiative and shape my life into infinite dimensions.”

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.

Periodically throughout the 2016-2017 school year, we will share excerpts of those speeches with the SSM community, and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

Nash Mahler

Before arriving at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, I did not know many people, and many people did not understand who I was. At my old school, my friends would not understand why I gave up my time after school for training, and gave up my weekends just to travel for one match. As a result, I felt my family members were the only people that understood my purpose. I am lucky enough to have an amazing extended family, but the three people that have made the biggest impact on my life are my mom, dad, and sister.

Mom, this may sound cliché but you are the most unselfish, loving, compassionate person I know. I understand every child says that about their mother, but you truly have been my role model in life. You have showed me how to treat others with respect and kindness, how to make the best out of any situation, and you have showed me how to care and think of others before myself. Most importantly, you have always supported and been there for me in anything I do. I look to you for guidance and you have always shown me the right direction. You have gone above and beyond what being a mother calls for. Within the past couple of years I’ve come to enjoy our time together more. I always know there’s a warm smile waiting when I walk into your office. Some may be embarrassed to have a parent work at their school, but it is a gift to have someone that I love so close to me every day.

Griffin Xu

Three years ago, I flew away from China for a new future in the United States here at Shattuck. It felt good to be free, as I was thousands of miles away from home, but I was overwhelmed with choices: activities, classes, and adjustments. Should I take visual arts classes I had been longing to take, for the simple joy of making art? Drowning out the fading voice of my grandma, voices from those adults surged again into my head: “Academics are the top priority. It would be a waste of time to choose art.” Too many concerns haunted me. I forgot my passion and lost my direction.

Then one day, I saw my reflection in a mirror, a girl who was depressed, tired in her mind. I had always been a bird living in the cages created by myself. So that day, I decided to become a fish. This fish swims freely despite water pressure, and does not listen solely to others’ suggestions. This fish dives undersea, and does not fear to study arts in depth. Just as I could express myself through portraying various figures on the paper, I could take initiative and shape my life into infinite dimensions.

Now, when people listen to me talking about art, they see brightness in my eyes, and my face lit up. I found happiness and I found myself—a unique fish that does not hesitate to swim against the current, fearlessly swimming towards her passion.  

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    Trevor Cleveland