Senior Speeches: Alex Drapala

October 13, 2017


“A man’s character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position to retaliate or reciprocate. Be aware of how you treat others, even those who may have no impact on your life. Remember, what goes around, really does come around.”

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.

Alex Drapala

“I believe in karma. You may know it by the phrase “what goes around, comes around.”  If you do good unto others, good will come unto you. In the same way, the Golden Rule says to treat others how you want to be treated.

“When I was eleven years old, I was in the sixth grade at a school named Sunset Ridge Elementary School. It happened to be a stressful week with a biology project and a math project that I had to both start and finish over the weekend, but I was very busy for several reasons. I was unhappy to begin with, and I was in no mood for what I thought of as unproductive charity work. I was supposed to go to Chicago with my mother for our school community service, in which we gave out “Help” boxes to families in need along with paper bag baloney sandwich meals with fellow community members.

“I was so mad that I had to do charity work when I needed time for my biology and math project that I spent the whole morning being a sulky, upset kid. I was giving the kids their paper bag lunches when a young boy came up to me and said thank you with the brightest smile I’d ever seen.

“One week later, I was at my sixth grade football championship for the regional league I was playing in. I was the starting running back of my team and it was my first game back in three weeks due to a hamstring injury I’d received in a prior game. I was very excited to be back playing sports. My team had an extraordinary offense due to one of my best friends, Reed, playing quarterback behind an amazing offensive line. Reed was a phenomenal player and we were well-coordinated thanks to our coach and our tireless efforts in practice.

“Unfortunately, the team we were playing had beaten us before and had an excellent record. They had a very strong defensive line as well as cornerbacks that put a ton of pressure on Reed. In addition, they put two or even three people on me every play. So, while I was excited, I was also very nervous.

“However, everything that could have easily gone wrong didn’t. Every time I should’ve been tackled, I was able to break the tackle for a gain. I made my way through the offensive line for first downs, ran my routes, and scored several touchdowns before the game was called a mercy defeat for the other team. It was an overwhelming victory.  Maybe it was dumb luck, but how could I be so lucky?

“After the game ended, I took a photo with the whole exhausted, but exuberant team holding up the trophy. Looking at that picture later, I noticed my smile. It was the brightest smile I’d ever had, and I noticed something special. It was the same smile that the young kid had when I had given him the baloney lunch. I believe that if I refused to go to community service that day, I would not have been as “lucky.”

“This is why I believe in karma and how I see it affecting my life.

“I will end with a quote by the 20th-century novelist Paul Eldridge which is what I hope you will take from this speech.

“A man’s character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position to retaliate or reciprocate.”

“Be aware of how you treat others, even those who may have no impact on your life.

“Remember, what goes around, really does come around.”

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