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.
“I’ve been at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for six years, and I’ve learned many things. One thing is the fact that things are not always fair. For example, I once tripped on a backpack and a teacher gave me a white card for “wrestling with a fellow student.” Or I could talk about how SSM is my second home or describe one or two defining moments that sum up my career here. But one lesson definitely stands out more than the rest: The idea that things change so quickly, especially here at SSM, and how important it is to use every moment to your own advantage.
“When I first came here, it was all a blur. At first, I was just a red-headed kid going to public school in Minnesota. Then everything changed, and I was a just red-headed kid going to private school in Minnesota. I went from 400 kids in my grade to 10, from not knowing most of my class to knowing everyone’s birthdays, food allergies and hometowns. And ever since then, things have inevitably changed even more.
“At the time, there was no way of knowing that in middle school my best friend would be a kid from Beijing named Yui Fe, or that in high school I would spend time every day with a 4 foot 9 Indian girl. Back then I wouldn’t have believed it.
“Change is everywhere, but here at SSM it comes at you fast, for good or bad. One minute, you’re celebrating in the locker room with your best friends after winning a big game, and the next you’re being told one of your closest friends has passed away.Her name was Lisa, but we called her Hair. She was like a second mother to me. She taught me so much until she was taken away by breast cancer in the fall of 2015. We thought she had already beaten it once the year before. Going from such a happy moment to a state of devastation and heartbreak takes a very large toll on a person. Having lost my friend and mentor Lisa, who was there for me since I was a baby, was terrible, but the important thing is what I learned from it. In this case, I learned that even though things may be going poorly, seeking the best in a situation can make a significant difference.
“In the end, whatever changes happen, whether it’s a loss or a gain, it is so important to stop and appreciate the small lessons that can be found in any situation. Throughout my life, I have been told to “learn from my mistakes” or “make the best out of a situation.” I wish I could travel to the past, through all the crying and the bleeding, the laughing and the smiling, not only because those were the good old days but because the knowledge I have gained from those moments define me as the person I have become.
“While school is very important, there is not a class that teaches you how to go through adversity in life, how to deal with tough situations, or even appreciate the good things. It might be something embarrassing, like dropping a plate at lunch, stuttering while you’re speaking at chapel, or messing up your senior speech. It could also be good things like nailing a dance in front of the whole school and their families, or not messing up on your senior speech.
“The point is that regardless of what happens, whether it is a giant change or just a little ripple in your life, make sure you make the most of it because, before you know it, it will be in the past and things will have changed yet again. Change is inevitable, but the important thing is to accept it with open arms and honor how it shapes your life in the long run. As Andy Bernard says in NBC’s The Office, “I wish there were a way to know you were in the good old days, before you actually left them.” At SSM, the change is non-stop, as are the opportunities to learn and grow from it.
“I would also like to thank my loving Mom, Dad, and Brother for being there for me and sacrificing so much for my benefit so I could experience these teaching moments. Thank you.”