2019 Student Graduation Speech
Good morning parents, esteemed faculty and administration, honored guests, Board of Trustees, Class of 1969, Doctor Ellen Stofan, and fellow graduates. On behalf of the graduating class of 2019, I welcome everyone and thank you for celebrating this special day with us.
Fellow graduates, I invite you to look around and to soak it all in. Ingrain into your minds and hearts who is seated adjacent to you, how grown up and mature everyone looks, how you feel…This, among your Kairos, college graduation, wedding day…, is an experience that you will reminisce on for the rest of your life. I’m sad to say it, but this will also most likely be the last time all 52 of us will be together in one place. On this solemn and joyous occasion, I would like to address three points: a debt of gratitude, how we’ll measure these years, and moving forward.
First, A debt of gratitude. We have worked so hard to stand here in our white gowns at the conclusion of our high school years; therefore, we must acknowledge that we did not do it by ourselves. Credit must be given to those who have assisted us along the way, for we owe them a great debt of gratitude.
To our teachers, thank you for your endless availability, your enthusiasm and confidence in our success, and your undying propensity to vouch for the infamous Jane Schaeffer (hard pause). Rather than returning home to spend more time with your families, you have sacrificed time outside of class, so that we could meet with you until we fully understood the content at hand. You have adjusted your lessons to be dynamic and interactive to better accommodate our learning styles. You insisted that we worked to our fullest potential by setting the bar high, because you knew we could achieve it. Your flexibility, patience, and understanding will forever serve as exemplary qualities for us to follow.
To our parents, first and foremost, thank you for your unconditional love. You managed to drag our deadweight bodies out of bed every morning and even detoured out of your commute to drive us here and back home every day. You happily attended our musicals, presentations, evening of the arts, and sports games. You offered constructive feedback to whichever talent or assignment we tackled, but you didn’t meddle too much as you allowed us to critically grow and solve independently. You never wavered.
To our siblings and friends, thank you for offering total comfort and support in our endeavors. The relationships we have formed with you are ones we will keep forever, and I can say that firsthand, being a younger sister of a Holy Child alum.
To our coaches, counselors, and advisors, you have made us more well-rounded, as you have made school not just all about academics. You have transformed us into cooperative, collaborative, flexible, considerate, sportsmanlike, and confident young women, equipped to take on the real world.
To the remaining campus staff, thank you for the countless, thankless tasks that you performed on a daily basis. Holy Child would not have operated as smoothly and safely if it weren’t for all of you.
Without these remarkably influential people in our lives, we would not be sitting here, right now, eager to receive diplomas as testaments to our hard work and grit. We are sad to say goodbye to them. No more Nurse to bring you food, drink, or medicine at the drop of a hat. No more Mr. Owen prying open your car to retrieve the keys that you locked in there yourself or to teach you how to change out a tire again. No more sweet aromas of scones, muffins, and cinnamon rolls that the Connelly Commons staff freshly baked for us every morning. No more Mrs. Whitaker rocking it out on the stage for her annual celebration of Halloween, especially as we celebrate her loyal 25 years working here, and as we honor her departure from this special community. (pause?)
Get our class to stand
Second, How we will measure these years. Although life will require us to focus on the present moment, we will find ourselves pondering about the past. So, how do we measure the time we’ve spent at Holy Child? A little more than four years ago, most of us chose Holy Child as their high school. It seems like yesterday. We were tiny little freshman, unaware of school norms, particularly Spirit Week’s intensity… When sophomore year flew by, we began to figure it out and were certainly a lot more in the know about school happenings. I’ll never forget the thrill of defeating the juniors in Spirit Week as tiny sophomores. Then, Kairos began junior year with a much deeper, universal understanding of one another. We had never been so bonded, so close-knit. Finally, senior year arrived. As leaders of the school, we executed senior traditions perfectly, and we at last won Spirit Week! By this time, we became women of resilience, surviving standardized tests, the college admissions process, and the shenanigans of prank day. Some of our success can be attributed to our unique coping mechanisms, like hugging each person during every Mass’s offering of peace rather than a stoic handshake. This simple sign of happiness was one example of conveying Cornelia’s famous saying, “Actions, not Words.” Or, busting a move in the slounge to Rich the Kid’s “New Freezer” and Gucci Mane’s “BOOM,” was another great option. In reality, one point that I am sure of is that the class of 2020 has abnormally large shoes to fulfill.
Third, Moving forward. The surreality of the future is no longer distant, nor surreal. It is now, and it begins now. Ensure that you dare. In whatever you do, ensure that you dare to pursue something you truly love. Your success and greatness will never be measured by monetary value, nor recognition. Greatness and success are defined on the basis of the strong relationships we make, and the lives around us that we affect, so dare to attain them. Just like we dared to make the closest bonds with one another here on campus.
There are so many components of your life that will change, no matter what, and most of them are entirely out of your control. Especially given such a time prone to change during our lives, we will still always be daughters of our parents. Sisters of our siblings. And alumna of Connelly School of the Holy Child. That can never change. All 52 of us bearing unique stories and passions chose this place. So many values and traditions have been instilled in us that will shape our constantly changing lives. I mean, what other senior class would surprise the entire school on October 1st by arriving at school to celebrate our self-invented holiday “emo-October”? Like I said, we’re very unique. But what other place would ever tolerate that? Holy Child has allowed us to take risks, make mistakes, encouraged us to work together, and grow in self-confidence.
And one last matter I have for today: in moving onward with your new life, don’t forget to stay true to your HC roots. Value the education that Holy Child has empowered you with. Albert Einstein once wisely stated, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” In a decade from now, we probably won’t remember conducting acid-base titrations, or finding derivatives of trigonometric functions, but we will instead recall that Holy Child taught us not merely what to learn, but especially how to learn. Just know that God will only ever give you what you can handle. And always live the fourth. Words cannot describe my gratitude. My gratitude that stems from the belief that God put each and every one of you into my life to make me laugh more, dance more, cry joyously more, learn more, and love more. And I believe all 52 of us feel the same. It’s certainly not a goodbye, but a “see you sometime soon”. For,
“You may journey far and yonder to where the end of nowhere starts,
But however far you wander,
You’ll hear it echo in your hearts.
When the last gray shades have fallen and life’s long journeys through,
You’ll hear the Holy Child spirit calling out to you.
H-O-L-Y-C-H-I-L-D (soundoff to the graduates).”
Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2019, we did it!
Written by: Rachel Russell '19