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 owe everything I have in life to my parents. They gave me the opportunities in life that are necessary for me to succeed, and I am forever grateful for that.
“Along with opportunities, my parents also taught me valuable life lessons. These range from how to shake someone’s hand to good table manners. The most important thing that my dad taught me is the motto that he lives by: “Work hard, have fun, don’t lie, and respect other people.” I don’t think that more than a few days have gone by that he didn’t make sure to mention this motto to me. Although my sister and I always thought it was pretty annoying, we both know that it is a very valuable lesson.
“This motto isn’t just something that my dad found online. He took the time to think about the four things that he feels to be the most important attributes in life.
“My father values hard work the most because, without it, it is essentially impossible to achieve your goals. He also said hard work can make anything possible. My dad grew up in a tiny town in Wisconsin where his father worked on the railroad and his mother worked at the local grocery store. Through hard work, my dad put himself through school and has had a successful career in business. My father always says that even if you fail, at least you know that you gave it your best.
“Aside from working hard, my dad says to make sure that you are having fun. My little brother was the happiest person I have ever met. Despite being in a hospital in Philadelphia for more than a year due to heart surgery, he would always find a way to make others happy by telling jokes and pulling pranks on the doctors. After he passed away in 2013 at the age of 8, my family and I decided to do our best to always be happy. Whenever times are tough, I remind myself of George and try to smile, because nothing that I am going through is worse than what he had to go through.
“The third part of my dad’s motto is to always tell the truth. It is very important for others to trust you, because then what you say has meaning. I remember my mom reading me the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which is about a young shepherd who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe it is just another false alarm, and the sheep are eaten by the wolf. This story taught me that if you keep lying, no one is going to believe you when you actually are telling the truth.
“The last part of my dad’s saying is to respect other people. In order to form relationships, you must be respectful. My dad is a very successful businessman, so he speaks from experience when he says that having the right relationships is essential to success.
“I try every day to live by these words my dad taught me, and I can see myself in the future saying the same thing to my kids. I want to thank my dad for teaching me such a valuable lesson and giving me the tools I need to succeed. I also want to thank my mom for always being my biggest supporter and helping me when times are tough. She has taught me that by having faith and not giving into fear I can overcome any obstacle. She is the most loving and caring person I have ever met, and I would be nowhere without her. Thank you.”