Senior Speeches: Kaylee O’Connor

September 27, 2017

“I learned to believe in myself, to live more independently, and most importantly, that sometimes change is good.”

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 2017-18 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.

Kaylee O’Connor

“My freshman year, my parents made the difficult decision to move with my two younger brothers to Florida so they could attend a school that specializes in helping students with learning disabilities. This meant my mother and brothers would move down to Florida, I would stay home, and my dad would go back and forth between the two states.

“Upon making this decision, my mom asked me if I was okay with it. I, of course, said yes, even though I felt the complete opposite because I knew this was what my brothers needed the most.

“I shortly realized how difficult it really is to live on my own. There is no one to do my laundry, make me food, or keep me on task with my work. I have to manage school, skating, and homework by myself. I especially miss my two younger brothers, who know how to cheer me up whenever I have a bad day.

“Coming home every day to an empty house is definitely not the most inviting feeling. Being alone, I have to take the responsibility to take care of all of our animals, which include 4 dogs, a bearded dragon, a parrot, and a turtle. The worst part of all is when you hear a little sound that you did not make, but are alone in a dark empty house.

“For a while, I thought I’d have to tell my parents that I couldn’t handle it.

“Soon enough, my parents were looking at schools for me to attend in Florida too, but I didn’t think they were serious. Later in the year, during spring break, I visited high schools that my parents were considering for me in Florida. It wasn’t until then that I realized how serious my parents really were about my leaving Shattuck.

“All my life I have been lucky enough to call Shattuck one of my homes, and to think that I might leave it made me feel gloomy. After seeing what my older siblings had after graduating from Shattuck, and after talking about leaving home with some of my closest friends, I knew that this was not what I wanted to do. So, I had to do everything I could to prove to my parents and to myself that I could handle living on my own. After a couple of weeks, I was able to do just that.

“After all, I may not have been happy about my parents’ decision. But looking at my brothers now, I know it was the right choice. In the beginning, my younger brother used to struggle with reading, and after only three months, he could suddenly read better than I ever could. I learned to believe in myself, to live more independently, and most importantly, that sometimes change is good.

“Mom and Dad, thank you for all the sacrifices you make, not just for me, but for the rest of our family, too. I know I don’t always tell you how thankful I am for everything you do. To my two younger brothers, I know you often wonder why you have to live far from home, but just remember that in the future it’s all going to pay off.

“Thank you!”

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