Good morning and a big hello to the Williston Northampton School Class of 2013, teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings, bagpipers, webcast-watchers, and kids. Welcome and thank you all for showing up to our high school graduation.
Speaking in front of a crowd of 1000+ people is something that not a lot of people get to experience in their lifetimes and being awarded this opportunity today is a really special honor. Some people try and picture the audience in their underwear to get the nerves down. I just stuck to not wearing contacts, so if something comes out wrong, well sometimes you can’t see the whole picture in widescreen vision.
So, what’s next? Seriously though, did we get that figured out? I need to let my mom know…
So, high school. It’s all over, and now just a chapter of our lives tucked away inside forever as a memory. With that statement comes not only a sense of closure, but a certain feeling of freedom and liberation. Now that I’m a college girl, I can be FB friends with Swanee, shower after 11, wear shorts above my fingertips, take a bike ride to Loomis (too soon…).
When I think about going to college, the first thought that comes to mind is, “We started from the bottom, now we’re going back to the bottom.” New campuses to learn, new schedules to master, new numbers to memorize when dining hall food is just not up to par. New standards to meet, new teachers to get used to, new roommates that you just don’t know will ever be able to replace the one you have now.
Upon taking a closer look, however, I think we have a pretty good head-start compared to everyone else. First off, we know how to do laundry, whether we use that skill or not is a better question. We know who and how good of a friend coffee is. Shelburne, Tandem, good places to go on a nice Sunday morning like this! Student IDs, mailboxes, health services, thank you Swine 09. Day students, this is all coming from a boarder’s perspective here, so your bottom might be lower than mine.
But, altogether we know how to make the most out of what we have. We realize the importance of student-teacher relationships. We realize the value and influence that is derived from our peers and their talents. We know what it means to be learning both in and outside of a classroom, especially at a place where school is your home. What we’ll lose and have to learn to do without will be the absence of the Ms. Marslands on your first day of orientation, the Ms. Talbots who already have cookies and a welcome card waiting for you in your empty room, the Mr. Martins who never fails to offer a smile and quick wave during mealtimes.
Last night, Mr. Swanson spoke on the role of revelations and the ‘aha!’ moments in our lives. Perhaps the most prominent and troubling revelation I’ve had was over January Long Weekend earlier this year. A few days before I took my solitary flight down to Florida, I had received the news that I’d be going to college next year at my top choice. This was kind of an ‘out of the blue’ thing and a big surprise not just for me, but for my parents and my advisor and everyone was just in a really content
and satisfied. Before leaving school when I was packing up, things just felt weird. Because for the first time, really ever, I had no worries and nothing to plan ahead for or stress over about.
So, when I took my seat on board the plane, I started thinking about life, and what it would be like outside of Williston. I took a look around me, there was a balding man leaning and squinting over his laptop to my left and a woman who looked too young to be so fully invested in Sky Magazine’s crossword puzzle as she was and what I thought at that moment was, “I don’t want to get old.” I realized that my greatest fear is looking in the mirror one day and thinking, “This is it for the rest of my life.” I’m talking about this line, that once you cross you never get back. You can try, but you’ll look like a weirdo. It’s only a matter of time until the Jordans turn into New Balance and bikinis turn into one-piece Speedos. Pretty soon, Gogo will be a goner and all that’s left will be Miranda. Take a second and find your parents or aunts or uncles or your teachers up on stage and imagine yourself being them in a few years. This is called life. It happens.
Now I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad. But, I think we are often too eager to say goodbye and end things like everyday life at Williston. At some point, when it all starts to sink in, you start to realize all the things you didn’t get done in four years and then try to fit all that in in one week. All of a sudden, everything is flying by and the days you were once so eager to cross off your calendars are moving alarmingly and uncomfortably fast. In the end, maybe we just ran out of time. We didn’t get to
do things, say things, and be with people that we wish we could have just one more day with.
WE are Williston. All of us here make this place a community. Williston will always belong to us, but will never be ours again the way it is right now. As you prepare yourselves to rise out of these seats and walk around the Quad one last time, saying your thank you’s and goodbyes to all of those that have done so much more than be our teachers, coaches, dorm parents, and advisors. Look around this campus for the last time, at Ford, Reed, Mem, Admissions, the place where it all began. Look behind you at those who’ll be back here tomorrow, just not with you. Today, this is our campus. Tomorrow, it won’t make sense to be here anymore.
Don’t be afraid to hold on to your youth. Time is on your side now. Leaving Williston today, we know what we are capable of and if we really want, can do anything and be anyone we want to be in this life. At Williston, I’ve learned that just a slight interest in something can turn into a real-life thing. If you like something enough, stay focused and do it as much as you can.
Yes, it’s true that we have some work to do before we’re at the top again. Like the walk up to the fields, there is an incline no matter what route you take. Most likely, it won’t be easy; the journey might entail a red door factory, a woman walking her cat, or even a funny smell. It might even get harder when you lose your bike or longboard somehow. But, in the end, you’ll make it. Today, we’ve done just that.
Congratulations you guys, peace and blessings, and good luck in everything you do.