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.
“Growing up in a family of seven, you learn that loud and chaotic are simply just normal. Hearing your older siblings yelling at your younger ones is just a typical day. Hearing the dog bark while she chases the cats around the house nearly taking out your legs just becomes a daily routine. Living at Shattuck-St. Mary’s is no different. You got everyone at lunch pushing their way to the front of the line. Faculty kids running at your legs nearly tripping you and Mrs. Bailey’s dog howling through the halls of SMH. What I’m getting at is that chaos is normal, but what scares people the most is complete silence. Throughout my life silence has always followed with tears and pain.
“On September 11, 2001, many of you may know that the World Trade Center was attacked. You also may know that in New York City the Twin Towers fell on a Tuesday morning killing thousands of people. Most of you don’t know about two buildings right next to the Twin Towers, they were called 7. Those two buildings also collapsed due to the twin towers falling. My dad was working in those buildings on the day of September 11, A day we will never forget. He was a survivor around many others that lost their lives.
“17 years later I asked my mom about 9/11. She works in the city as well as my dad. And the first thing she said to me was, “That day was the only day the city was ever completely silent”. I responded to her saying something like “ mom it’s New York City, it’s never silent…” she instantly started to tear and said “no one could say anything while they were watching their loved ones die a horrible death, it’s the scariest feeling in the world she said. The complete silence.
“September 11 will come around every year, and being a kid listening to the morning announcements in school, that moment of silence was dedicated to my three best friends who had lost their fathers in the towers that morning. That moment of silence that brings me to tears because it could’ve easily have been my dad. My dad nearly lost his life due to the falling towers. I was fortunate to be able to grow up with a father. I wish my friends were as fortunate.
“Growing up what I’ve been told was don’t take a day for granted and to be thankful for what you have. This became a principle I lived by ever since the day my mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Four years ago she was diagnosed, and after I came home from school that day of freshman year she told me the news. When she told me I felt that moment of silence. The exact moment of silence that she felt back in 2001.
“She was put through many surgeries and went through chemo and still tried to get up and go to work every morning. She fought as hard as she possibly could. She fought for my family to be able to grow up with a mother.
“Three years later she beat cancer. She pushed through every single second so my siblings and I would be able to grow up with a mother.
“I am thankful for my parents and I am so grateful for how fortunate our family has been. I am fortunate for all the days filled with chaos and all the nights of laughter because I know that one day silence and tears will come again, and the only thing I’ll be wishing for is the laughter from my siblings and my teammates.
“If I can tell you one thing to take away from this, then I would say to enjoy the laughter and chaos in your life. Enjoy all the happiness in life before you start to miss it. Thank you.”