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.
My favorite memories here at Shattuck-St. Mary’s were made with my soccer team, but more importantly, these fond recollections have also taught me important life lessons. First, I learned what a true friend is. I am blessed to call all my teammates friends and even family. A true friend will let me feed their llamas and play with their cool dogs. Good friends help me make it rain fake dollar bills, visit Culver’s with me in the middle of the night, and hike with me to watch the sunset at the water tower. I know I’m in good company when joining a scooter gang and blasting music on Friday nights.
A genuine amigo will toilet paper my room when it’s my birthday and make an embarrassing announcement to the school that I am one year older. True friends will help me construct a senior year mix tape and also feature on the track - release date coming soon. My friendships are the most important part of Shattuck-St. Mary’s to me. Even though we don’t share a drop of blood, my friends are my family because I hold them closest in my heart.
My mother’s unconditional love enabled me to have a life that no one looks down on, even though she sacrifices so much. That is why she encouraged me to study abroad in the United States; it has a better educational system compared to that in Korea, which forces students to compete with others excessively. She knew that I would not enjoy my school life if I attended high school in Korea. She persuaded my dad to allow me to move to the U.S., and my parents supported me to do so. Therefore, I do not need to compete for with other students for academic success.
Because of her sacrifice and her decisions, I could become a best version of me, learning to blend in with people who have different cultural backgrounds, cooperating with others, and enjoying every moment of my own life. Those are the fundamental skills I need to live in society.
Having been a member of Shattuck-St. Mary’s for three years, I have developed friendships with students of so many different nationalities, and we have supported each other in accomplishing projects. Even though I will face many hardships in society, I will be able to get through because of the values my mother has instilled in me.
The loss of Sam Oden ’15 near the end of the summer this year took me, and so many of us, by surprise. For those of you who didn’t know Sam, he graduated from Shattuck-St. Mary’s in 2015 and had played on the AAA hockey team. It seemed surreal how a young and vibrant life could be taken so suddenly, and how quickly things can change. It made me question whether I have been making the most of the short sixteen years of my life. When I think about Sam, one of the things I remember is that he was always happy. Whenever I talked to him, I came away uplifted because he was never negative.
I believe to make the most of everyday it starts with gratitude. I realized that in order to be happy things didn’t have to be perfect, I just needed to look beyond the imperfections and not let them bring me down. To make the most of everyday I need to appreciate the little things I take for granted.