Senior Speeches: Take a Risk and Think Positively

January 16, 2017

“I am astounded when I think of the impact taking a risk can make. I’m not afraid to take a risk and jump. Not jump off a cliff while bungee jumping, but to jump at an opportunity.”

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.

I was born a risk-taker; not in the sense that I would climb every tree I saw, or that I liked bungee-jumping off cliffs. In fact, it was quite the opposite. An occasional jump on the trampoline was fine, but I was not a risk-taker in that way. However, one of the most monumental risks in my life was a harp CD that I recorded when I was ten years old. I think that my young self realized that it would lead to bigger things when I named it “Something So Small.”

… That risk I took at age 10 had an unforeseen affect on my family. Because I had chosen to donate my earnings of nearly $3,000 to The Salvation Army, we all became very familiar with what they stood for, and all they do for our community. When my elderly uncle passed away, he donated his money to fund The Salvation Army’s Back to School Backpack Distribution program. Over the past four years, my uncle Gordy’s money has filled over 8,000 backpacks with school supplies. Through my CD project, my grandma also learned about what The Salvation Army strives to do. For the past six years, she has volunteered hours upon hours of her time leading outreach programs. Looking back on all that she has accomplished, I picture where it all started. I am astounded when I think of the impact taking a risk can make. I’m not afraid to take a risk and jump. Not jump off a cliff while bungee jumping, but to jump at an opportunity.

- Abigail Hansen

In our conversation about my senior speech, my mother told me she is neither special nor great; she just did what she was supposed to do as a mother. But I can’t thank her enough. Thank you for bringing me to this world, so I have the chance to meet all these wonderful people; thank you for teaching me lessons, so I could become who I am today; thank you for being my favorite person in the world, so I know there is a person I could come to whenever and wherever. You are special, like every mother in the world who gives the most unselfish love to her children.

- Grace Liu

I strongly believe in positive thinking, and I believe that having an enthusiastic outlook on life is important, and serves as a source of hope for many people, but I believe there is a fine line between positivity and ignorance. For a long time, I was happy to live in my little bubble, too naive to accept that all wasn’t well in the world because that was all I saw, and all that concerned me.

…This drew many questions for myself, and to address these questions about problems in our world meant I identified that they aren’t quite as simple as I once thought. The attempt to understand was not superficial or one dimensional at all, it actually existed within a framework, an interconnectedness which persists deeper than the law or politics, seeing the bigger picture to a sense. I think this is why it was so hard for me to understand, because as an athlete, and duly being very goal-oriented, I am always working to improve and achieve the next step of my progressive improvement; but there is no finish line, no end goal to work towards my pursuit of understanding, no one definite solution…

…Ultimately, as graduation approaches, I think it’s important to realize that the real world will be throwing everything it’s got at us, and I just have to take it all in, and decide for myself what I believe is true.

- Hannah Melchiorre

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    Jeremy Bishop