Editor’s note: These remarks were delivered at the Williston Northampton School’s Senior Dinner on May 10, 2013, by English teacher and Writing Center director Sarah Sawyer.
Hi there! It’s so great to be standing up here speaking to you tonight. You all know that the only thing I love more than talking is giving advice, so I’m pretty excited to have the next hour or two to tell you how to live your life. It’s a dream come true! (Kidding, of course.) It is true, however, that my mother is here—really! She is! Right over there!—so you do have to be nice to me. Also, just as a side note, she’s a pretty wise lady, so those of you who have pressing questions should probably ask her: she’s like the Buddha. So Laura McCullagh, if you haven’t figured out where to go to college yet, now’s your chance.
I thought quite a bit about what to say to you tonight. I would like to say something that you’ll remember, maybe something that will make you laugh, or at least something that won’t make a giant hook appear to my left and drag me off the stage. I thought about reading you a profound and beautiful poem, fitting for this big occasion, but then I remembered that Mairead hates poetry, and I definitely don’t want to make her grumpy.
You’re all at such a weird moment in your lives—you’re neither here nor there—and I know (because I remember the feeling well) that most of the time you just want to throw in the towel and go tanning out on the turf, or maybe think a little bit more about the length of your prom dress. (You know who you are.) I know that your friends are a lot more important to you at this moment than finishing your AP English 12 assignment, and probably that’s as it should be. And while there are lots of lessons and words of wisdom that I can think of—most of which are entirely plagiarized from the aforementioned mother in the back—I really only want to say two things to you tonight. So here’s the first one:
BE KINDER THAN IS NECESSARY.