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.
“Throughout my life I’ve looked up to and admired many people, but the person who has made one of the biggest impacts on my life is my ‘gama’ Jeannette, my mom’s mom. I am one of eight grandchildren, and my grandma treats each of us like her own child.
“She was born in Santa Fe, N.M. in 1946 and grew up alongside three older sisters and one younger brother. As both of her parents worked full time as a nurse and a shoe salesman, at the age of 10, she taught herself to cook and prepare all meals for her family. This is where she began to care for others and also develop a passion for cooking. A few years later, at age 15, she met her future husband, George Brunacini. They ended up having four children and were together for 40 years until he passed from a devastating plane crash. This was extremely tough on her and took her many years to recover, but it was her faith and positivity that allowed her to overcome the tragic loss.
“Living in the house next door to her my whole life, I spent much of my childhood with her and the rest of my cousins. She is more like a best friend than a grandma, and as I’ve been away from home I truly have realized how much of an impact she’s made on my life. Some of the earliest memories from my childhood took place at her house. A few of these include; my cousin George spraying Windex in my eyes, falling in her pond and weekly trips to the park. At the time, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have lived next door to her my whole life, but since being away the past three years, I am so glad for the close family relationships I’ve made and how they will continue to grow the rest of my life.
“One quality that makes gama who she is is her positivity. Her positive energy is contagious and whoever is around her certainly can feel it. She’s always up for any challenge and will put everyone before herself. An example of this was during winter break when we took a family ski trip to Durango, Colo. It was just her and I driving to get groceries to make dinner, when we caught a patch of ice and slid into a snowbank. The car made at least one full rotation and after crashing, I looked over to my left and made sure she was okay and she did the same to me. Then, out of nowhere, she started laughing hysterically. At first, I was very confused and looked at her in a strange way, and then I started cracking up. We laughed together for at least a minute for no reason at all and it was definitely one of the best minutes of my life. This taught me that although there are lows in life, this minor car crash was insignificant in the long run and her positivity is what made this situation one hundred times better.
“Grandmothers can be extremely protective and I have a funny story about an instance that occurred in Spain a few years ago. We were in a small town outside San Sebastian playing against arguably the best team in the tournament and the game was getting out of hand. With about 20 minutes to go, I was viciously tackled from behind. Once getting up, I looked to my right and saw my grandma trying to hop the fence to get on the field. Though this tackle is part of the game and she’s only 4’8” and probably wouldn’t have made the leap, this shows how much she cares about me and that she would do anything to protect me.
“Another quality of my gama that I admire, is how she is committed to everything she does, no matter what. When she was thirty years old, she discovered a passion for running marathons. As you know, a marathon is no easy task and involves difficult training, strategic dieting, and a positive mental approach. This didn’t scare her, and she attacked the challenge right away. Since then, she has completed 10 marathons and 32 half marathons, an incredible accomplishment. Though she now has to limit how frequently she runs and also the distance because of knee problems, she still is extremely active. She makes sure to start every day off with a four-mile run, and at least three days a week of weight training. Having not competed in a half marathon in a decade, she is determined to do one more in her lifetime and is currently training for one this summer, which I plan to run alongside her with three of my other cousins. We are all eager to run with her and can’t wait for the challenge.
“Unfortunately, I don’t live next door to my gama, we have made it a habit to FaceTime at least a few times a week. Thanks gama for always being there for me and hopefully someday you will figure out how to use the camera on your iPhone. Thank you.”