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.
“Thank you, Coach Joe. At the beginning of the year, I was going to write a simple stereotypical speech about my mom and everything she has done for me. Little did I know that a life-changing event would occur less than a month later. It’s something that’s not easy to write or speak about but has become the theme of my senior speech.
“On September 17, 2017, I was on a bus back from Michigan when I received news that one of my friends from my old school, Devin Delaney, had passed away early that morning. I sat there surrounded by teammates, trying to keep myself from crying my eyes out in front of them. But I couldn’t hold it in. I broke down on the bus, at dinner, back on the bus, all the way home, and again and again over the next several weeks.
“The thing is, I wasn’t best friends with Devin, but he still had an immense impact in my life. I hadn’t talked to him since sophomore year in English class. My last vivid memory of him was when he nodded his head, smiled, and gave me a thumbs up before I presented a speech in front of my class.
“In those long, awful, weeks that followed his death, I saw a community come together. Kids from all different backgrounds - athletes, scholars, the kids who fell through the cracks, the kids who only knew him from seeing him in the hallway, or just following him on Instagram - all came together to celebrate the life of an extraordinary human.
“Being away at Shattuck-St. Mary’s was the hardest part. No one knew what I was feeling, no one could help. Even my favorite sport couldn’t distract me. It got to the point where I ran off the field during practice and sat on the floor of the Sabre Cafe for 30 minutes bawling my eyes out. My teammates did everything they could, giving me space when I needed it or a shoulder to cry on. My friends from Burnsville told me to skip school if I wasn’t up for it, because I didn’t have the same support system they were getting at their school. I’ve never felt more alone, empty, and helpless than I did for those first couple of days.
“But soon I realized that death brings more than just pain and sorrow. That sounds very odd, but what I learned is that we also celebrate the life that’s been lost. The people around me laughed, told goofy stories of DeLad, and then cried from laughing, not from sadness. I realized what an incredible life this one kid had, and I was so happy that I got to be a part of it, even for just a short time.
“What I’m trying to say is, our lives are all so short, and all so different. We could be living our last day, and none of us would know it. Let us live for today, without regrets, and without fear. Let’s live our best day every day, because we never know what tomorrow may hold. Say hi to that one kid in class. Smile at people in the hallways. There is no time in our short lives for hate, and sometimes we lose sight of that.
“An unknown author once said, “Love is stronger than death. Even though it can’t stop death from happening, no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories, either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”
“Wherever he may be, I know Devin Delaney would be proud to see a community that seemed so broken come together and celebrate his amazing life. I can picture him now, sitting in this crowd, giving me that same smile, head nod, and thumbs up as he did just a few years ago. Thanks, Devin. This one’s for you buddy. Thank you.”