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.
“There is a first time for everything. The undeniable truth is that, for many of you, this is the first time hearing me speak, or the first time matching a name to a face. There have been thousands of firsts in my life, some that have the ability to be labeled as more important than others. The first day of school, the first time skating, the first time meeting a new person. Not all of my initial experiences have gone the way I have wanted them to.
“My first day of school at SSM, I felt lost. Lost in a place I didn’t know, surrounded by a sea of people I didn’t know. I wasn’t home sick; in fact, I liked being away from home. It was the feeling of being completely comfortable that had fallen through the cracks. My first time stepping on the ice when I was young, as expected, was disastrous. Down I went, fall after fall, hitting the ice until eventually I had enough failure for one day. When I first met new people here, my teammates in particular, it took me over a month to even start to warm up to them. I slowly but surely came out of my shell, and shaped into a form of me I would much rather be: myself.
“Looking back, I like to think about my original feelings toward each of these experiences and compare them to where I am now. SSM had me wanting to come back after just a day of being away Thanksgiving break my sophomore year. It is the place I like to call my home away from home, the place that has helped me mature, and mold me into the person I am today. The ice rink is now my sanctuary, where, even on my worst of days, I am able to find a sense of pure joy. The boards and the glass serve as a barrier that protect me from all other distractions in life, so when I’m playing I am able to feel focused, yet free. It’s funny to think that I initially disliked hockey just because my first few tries didn’t go too well, but it’s amazing how far a little persistence and determination have taken me.”
- Natalie Buchbinder
“I want to be accepted as a human being. I dream of empathy, not sympathy; for people to stop putting a silver lining around my cloud, because the rain is still falling on my head; for somebody to be in my shoes, to witness what goes through my eyes for one, single day. For what I’ve been through, I don’t want to be a bird in a jailed-cell box. I don’t want to be in the position where I still have to fight for human rights, just like people before me, for being silent for so long and having experiences where many looked down at me and say no, I’m through with it.
“Like Air Jordan, I’m going to fly high because I know that dark doesn’t mean dirty, nappy doesn’t mean nasty, and bold doesn’t mean loud and problematic. I don’t want to be black and blue now. I want to say I’m black, I’m proud, and my legacy is loud. I want to produce my magic, without having to apologize.
“The more I learned of who I am and how I got here made me a stronger person. I value my life as a young black woman. I will still advance to fulfill the dream, like my people. There’s nothing wrong with seeing color; how one treats color is more important. And that’s just all I need.”
- Alaysia Lane