SGIS Commencement 2017: Valedictorian’s Address and Co-Salutatorians’ Addresses

[On Sunday, May 21 under a giant white tent  on our Collierville Campus at St. George’s Independent School, around 1650 people celebrated the Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2017. With the permission of our Valedictorian, Graham Sisson, and Co-Salutatorians, Ryan Bray, and Isabel Correia, I am posting their speeches here. In Fall Graham will be head to Dartmouth College, Ryan will be attending Texas Christian University, and Isabel will be going to the University of Notre Dame].

Ryan Bray

At the end of my eighth grade year, I found myself in a strange position; for the first time in my life, I had to switch schools, and I really had to think about what it was that I wanted from high school. I would not consider myself to be particularly outgoing and was incredibly nervous to go to a school where I knew basically no one, so I sort of dreaded my first day of classes at St. George’s. However, the past four years have been a period of my life which I will never forget, and to think that I have been fortunate enough to be named salutatorian, or rather co-salutatorian, truly is an honor. I am proud to be standing in front of you all to deliver this speech, despite the fact that my greatest fear is public speaking.

Although I am the one who put pen to paper and actually took the seemingly thousands of quizzes, tests, and other assessments, I could not have done it without my teachers. If not for the them, I certainly would not be in this position. I would like to thank all of my teachers for helping me to get to this point, especially those who have had the good fortune to teach me for multiple years. Mrs. Philpott, thank you for coming up with unique ways to help your classes learn; it is very easy to make AP World History unbearably boring, but somehow you managed to avoid that and helped spark my love of history. Mrs. McMullen, thank you for being so patient in the face of my constant pessimism and for believing in me no matter how difficult the lesson became; your class was as rewarding as it was frustrating, and there is no one else I would have rather had as a math teacher. Mrs. Imorde, I have no idea how you convinced me to take four years of a class that studies a 2000-year old dead language, but I am glad you did. You have helped me grow and change more than any other teacher, and I am eternally thankful for all the good you’ve done for me.

Believe it or not, I do have friends whom I would like to thank, people who didn’t think twice about approaching a quiet and angsty new student and trying to be his friend. Cassie and Eva, thank you for having a contagious laughter that never fails to brighten my day, and, Maggie, thank you for being you. Thank you, Noah, for being kind to me from the very beginning and for continuing to be my friend. Thank you, Grant, for not elbowing me in the face like you did when I played against you in eighth grade; I’m glad to say that we are now friends. And, although I am now supposed to hate you for being smarter than me, thank you, Graham, for always having an open door at your house and for serving as a place where many great memories were made. If I had the time, I could thank everyone from the class of 2017 individually, because you have all become sort of an extended family; the friendliness and cohesion that I experienced surpassed even my highest expectations, and I can’t imagine myself graduating with any other class.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not thank my family for their profound impact on my life. I am blessed to be supported by aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that have always shown me nothing but kindness and support, and I can only hope to have a fraction of those qualities one day. Dad, the advice you gave me was simple yet life-changing: for me to “be the best that I can be.” I hope I’ve made you proud. Mom, thank you for always being my biggest fan and supporter, and I don’t know what I would do without you. Justin, although you are the weirdest person I’ve ever met, I could not ask for a better brother. If not for all of you, I would not be standing up here.

In truth, I’m not sure if this speech was supposed to have some overarching theme or idea, but I wrote it the only way I could think of: as a thank you letter. I wish I had time to thank everyone, whether it’s Coach Ruffin and Coach Nick for supporting me in basketball even though I ended my legendary career with a career-high of 12 whole points, or Joel and Camille for getting me involved in Young Life and helping my faith grow and mature. I wish I could take credit for standing up here, but I simply cannot. I am merely a product of everyone whom I’ve interacted with, and I am grateful that St. George’s gave me a place to meet all of these wonderful people. As I now look ahead to my years at TCU, I can feel confident knowing that St. George’s, and the people who make up St. George’s, have prepared me better than any other place could. Thank you.

Isabel Correia

Mr. Peters, faculty, family, friends, and fellow members of the class of 2017, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today. In fact, for some of you, these next four minutes may be the most you’ve ever heard me speak. While I have been very involved in St. George’s these past 7 years, I’ve built up a reputation of being quiet and reserved, far from the center of attention. At the moment, however, I am out of my element, and couldn’t be more in the spotlight.

A few months ago, as the idea of college was becoming more and more real, I was thinking about the people I’m going to meet in college, and I got a case of the “what ifs”.

What if they don’t like soccer like my best friends do?

Or even worse, what if they don’t like my favorite musician, Alvaro Soler, and I’m the only at my university that has heard of him?

I’ve come to understand, however, that instead of fearing that people won’t already share my interests, it’s actually quite the opposite. Yes, it can be scary to go out into the unknown, but we do it many times throughout our lives in order to grow. Think back on the first time you stepped foot in the upper school, regardless of whether you had been a gryphon for one day or for 10 years. Everything was new; we had preconceived ideas of what high school would be like, from older siblings, books, and Hollywood, but we were still experiencing many unknowns for the first time. It was uncomfortable yet exciting, and here we are, we got through it, and we are better because of the big change in our life.

We are about to set off into a new “unknown,” one of many in our bright futures. We’re an incredibly close class. Many of us have known each other our entire lives; sometimes we know too much about each other. We know each other’s likes and dislikes, hobbies, style, and opinions, but when we leave the St. George’s bubble, we will encounter a world that we don’t know and that doesn’t know us. We are going to meet new people whether we want to or not, and we are going to be out of our comfort zone. No matter how outgoing we are, it may be daunting to be in this new stage in life where the world doesn’t know us.

I want us to look at this inevitable “unknown” as an opportunity. The world may not know us yet, but we get to show them who we are. We get to share our passions, gifts, and talents with others, and that’s a beautiful thing.

When I was told I get to write a speech, many speech topics flooded my mind, but I found it difficult to settle on a theme. Think back on all the papers we’ve written and projects we’ve created in our St. George’s career – and there have been many; most of them had a prompt or a set of instructions, giving us boundaries and an end goal. But a few of our projects gave essentially no prompt; maybe we had to write an essay about any aspect we wanted in a particular book, or we had to do a senior independent study creating anything we wanted, within reason, that had a meaningful impact on the community. I’m sure my classmates would agree with me in saying that these open-ended, instructionless assignments are the most intimidating and daunting, yet once we find our theme or the project we want to pursue, it ends up being one of the best and most enjoyable assignments we have created. It may have taken us longer to come up with the idea, but the end product is something we are more proud of. Often, we don’t come up with the idea until we start the project. Personally, my best work comes from rewriting and reimagining what I’m doing. For example, I wrote two whole speeches before I finally figured out what I wanted to say to you all today.

This idea of writing and rewriting is relevant for our futures. After high school, we have more freedom than we’ve ever seen. We’re living without our parents making our major decisions, we’re figuring out what we want to study, and we’re continuing to understand the world. Like an essay without a prompt, there aren’t instructions for what to do with our lives once we walk out of this tent today. We may have to start working down a certain path before we discover what we want to do with our lives. It will be challenging and may seem scary, but once we determine what we want to do, it will be worth it in the end. As we go off to share our gifts with the world, my advice to you is to be patient, and don’t be afraid to rewrite your path. Congratulations, Class of 2017, on over a decade of greatness.

Graham Sisson

Mr. Peters, members of the board, faculty, family, friends, and classmates, words cannot describe how honored I am to be the final student to address this incredible class of 2017. But if I can’t even find the words to describe how honored I am, how am I possibly going to find the words to actually describe this class and our illustrious St. George’s career? Well, where else to turn than to God’s word. For those of us who have already been to church once this Sunday, don’t worry, I have no intentions of taking you there again.

In the parable of the rich fool in the twelfth chapter of Luke, a wealthy farmer is blessed with an abundant harvest. So, “he thought to himself, ‘what shall I do?” In answering this natural question, the fool says “‘this is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones…’ I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.’” We at St. George’s can very clearly see the foolishness of the wealthy farmer’s plan to keep his blessings to himself. In fact, our school, teachers, and students of the Class of 2017 are dedicated to living out the opposite of the rich fool’s plan, as we so often empty our barns and share our blessings.

As a school, we are dedicated to this idea of sharing our abundance. It would be easy for us to remain secluded in the suburb of Collierville, acting like a private ski lodge or country club more so than just looking like one. Instead, our school is dedicated to playing a larger role in our community. Our SG901 and Citizenship programs are prime examples of our actively seeking to live outside of ourselves. With the all-important guidance of president Alton Stovall, our new bunkhouse represents our school’s eagerness to empty our barns here in the Collierville suburbs, and share some of our abundance with the greater Memphis community. I’m also going to use this time to shamelessly plug our St. George’s Great Outdoors program, my baby of sorts as Prefect of the Outdoors, and use it as another example of our school’s eagerness to involve students with more than just classrooms, in this case God’s creation from here to Colorado to Maine.

But we are far more than just an eager mission statement and philosophy; our faculty truly embrace this idea of emptying their barns into our lives. As Coach Vogel is always quick to mention, none of the faculty got into the education business for a large paycheck. No faculty member decided that teaching or coaching will equate to taking life easy, eating, drinking, and being merry. Knowing this, it strikes me as incredibly impressive the extent to which our teachers and coaches have invested themselves in our lives. Whether it’s teaching us about integrals, Pavlov, or literature from the Spanish Golden Age, every teacher we have been blessed to come into contact with at St. George’s has been truly passionate about our learning of the material. And, whether it’s yelling at us to run faster from a bike, hitting harder ground balls after we miss one, or gently urging us to lay off the hammer throws into the wind, our coaches at St. George’s are invested in more than just our teams’ results; they’re invested in our development as young men and women.

But lastly, and most importantly, this class of 2017 is an embodiment of what it looks like to empty our barns and share our blessings. On the athletic fields, our seniors have led teams to regional victories and state championships for years, clearly sharing their athletic abundance with their teammates. We have double digits numbers of classmates taking their talents to the next level, where they will continue to share their lacrosse, football, track and field, swimming, and baseball blessings with a new group of fellow athletes. But that’s not to overshadow those, who like myself, have shared countless hours with our high school teammates, but will have only the intramural fields on which to share their talents in the future. On stage, our seniors have shared their blessings with the entire school community through their heartfelt performances, whether it’s the award-winning choir, the audience-moving theater groups, or the face-melting Modern Music Ensemble. Not to mention the behind-the-scenes work of those who make sure these performances happen. In the community, our seniors have led clubs and groups throughout their high school years, impacting everything from the lives of our own students to those of underserved students in Binghampton. Our seniors have organized a countless number of Best Buddies events, Shrine School basketball games, Medlife supply drives, Smile Train fundraisers, and bake sales for literally every imaginable occasion. The Bleacher Creatures have completely changed the nature of our school’s student spirit, have you seen Bayard lead a fourth-quarter roller coaster, and the Prom Committee spent months planning a truly incredible prom night. All of these commitments take an immeasurable amount of effort, yet our class has been more than willing to share themselves for the better of the community during every stage of our career here. In the school itself, our seniors have led everything from the student government to each and every class they find themselves in, I know we can all think of a few students who share themselves a little more than needed in the classroom. In all of these areas, I am honored to be a part of this Class of 2017, who so readily share their blessings with those around them.

Four years ago, my sister stood on this stage and gave her own commencement address. While I don’t remind her enough, she, more than just about anyone else in my life, is a shining example of what it means to empty her barns and share her blessings. Taking a page out of her commencement address playbook, I can think of no better way to conclude my address than with a charge from the word of God. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others,” and it is with this charge that I leave you. Thank you.

SGIS Class of 2017: Two Baccalaureate Speeches

[On Saturday, May 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Memphis, St. George’s Independent School held its Baccalaureate Service for the Class of 2017. It was a lovely service highlighted by the speeches of two members of that class, Caroline Farrell, who is headed to Rhodes College in the Fall, and Bayard Anderson, who is headed to Sewanee: The University of the South. They were kind enough to give me permission to post them here.]

Caroline Farrell

Mr. Peters, Reverend Mathes, teachers, faculty members, families, and my best friends sitting in front of me, this is it! We have been looking forward to this weekend our entire lives, and after years and years of graduation weekend being apart of the future, it is now a part of the present. This is happening. Right now. I think I speak for many of us in this room when I say I can’t believe how fast the time has passed. It seems like yesterday we were taking over the senior lounge for the first time. But, tomorrow is the big day.

St. George’s has been a part of our lives for many, many years. As I reflect on my time here, it’s crazy to think about how the school I will be graduating from tomorrow is the same place where I learned how to read and write, among other things. For example, If you were here in elementary school, I’m sure you still can still sing the “fifty nifty united states” song that Mrs. Colgate taught us. So much of my life, and many of your lives, have been spent at St. George’s. My friends in the class of 2017, we have literally grown up here. Throughout the years, St. George’s has taught us how to learn and how to love and care for one another. Despite all of our differences, we have an unbreakable bond because we respect and admire each other’s unique qualities.

For those who don’t know, each senior at St. George’s has to complete an SIS, or senior independent study project, of their choice in order to graduate. For mine, I made a video for our ten year class reunion. With this project, I decided to interview my classmates. One question I asked each person was, “How has St. George’s changed your life?” Now, I am the only person that knows everyone’s answer to this question, as I filmed it. But as the project went on, I was amazed to discover a nearly unanimous answer. Perhaps Grace Optican nailed the answer so many of us share when she said, “For the 15 years that I’ve been [at St. George’s], all of my life really, it’s taught me more about myself, and who I want to be, but then also the lifelong friendships from all lower school to high school.” Almost everyone explained that the relationships they have built and the friends they have made have been the most life changing. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s impossible to imagine being in any other class. The class of 2017 is our class. It is our year. To shift from being the class of 2017 to the class of 2021 is such a new concept to us. My biggest wish is as we all branch out and go our separate ways, that we find people that give us the same sense of community that we have found with each other at St. George’s. And as Mr. Peters would suggest, “if we find the strengths of the St. George’s community missing in the places we go in our lives, we should get to work building such a community ourselves.”

Two weeks ago, I was driving through campus headed home from track practice and I saw it. I saw the first foundations of the big white graduation tent. I knew this day was coming, I just wasn’t prepared. I’ve seen it go up year after year after year. However, this is our tent. Tomorrow, in that tent, each one of us will walk across the stage and receive our diploma from St. George’s. That one piece of paper, that small, thin piece of paper, represents everything that St. George’s has given us: the life lessons, the actual class lessons, the community, our forever friends, and a home. Tomorrow, in that tent, every member of the Class of 2017, will all be together in one place for the last time. Ever. Tomorrow, in that tent, we will say goodbye to our temporary home, St. George’s, at least for a little while. During the ceremony tomorrow, I think a tearless face would be extremely hard to find. We must remember, and I’ve had to learn this myself, that if we are sad about this time coming to an end, that just means we have had an extraordinary, life changing experience at St. George’s. I have no worries about the future of every single one of y’all sitting in front of me. I can’t wait to hear one of your names come up in a conversation, and I have the privilege of saying, “ I went to high school with them.” I know it will happen. Y’all are all going places that none of us can even imagine right now. We don’t know what the future holds, but I’m sure it’s a bright and brilliant one.

Hopefully, when we look back on our St. George’s experience, we can remember all of the good moments. Maybe it’s the state championship you won with your team because of all the hard work you put into your sport. Maybe it’s all of the dances that the school put on for us. Maybe it’s that moment when you finally finished your SIS and felt a wall of relief. Maybe it’s all the class trips we went on, like Heifer Ranch, Victory Ranch, Six Flags, or Camp Bear Track. Maybe it’s the moment you received your acceptance letter to your dream college. Maybe it was two Fridays ago, our last day of academic classes, and the senior lounge was turned into a game room. I’m positive that many of these good moments are the times outside of school that you spent with the friends you’ve made at this school. St. George’s will always be a part of our lives. And when we say goodbye tomorrow, we know that, just like the last line of the St. George’s hymn, “Oh, St. George’s, we won’t forget you.”

Bayard Anderson

Mr. Peters, Reverend Mathes, faculty, family, friends, and classmates

It’s an honor to be speaking today but with that honor comes a great responsibility. I was told I had roughly 500 words for this speech. 500 words to either summarize 15 years here or pass on some valuable message. As a result, I have cut out all adjectives and jokes. I assure you, otherwise this would have been the funniest, most extraordinary speech in the history of St. George’s Independent School.

I actually have a confession. “In seventh grade I almost switched schools. Several of my friends were switching so I toured the new school, applied, and was accepted. I remember telling my parents after the tour that I did not like the hallways at the other school, which to them did not seem like a valid reason for choosing against this school, it was such a little thing. Fortunately, I chose to remain at St. George’s because of the people here and not a day goes by I’m not glad I did.

When I began reflecting on my experiences as a student here, I started to realize that it was the little things and the people that made all the difference. All of the big school events have been fun, but when I look back years from now I won’t remember them as well as I do the small things. I’ll remember playing in the Sisson’s front yard until our feet were stained with dirt and we’d all jump in the pool to wash off. I’ll remember Jonathan McNeill accidentally kicking a stroller at a home football game (the baby was fine). I’ll remember the bus rides and the team songs. I’ll remember almost cutting my hand off on the mean elementary school tetherball courts. And, I’ll always remember my beloved rolling backpack, Rubicon, who I had to use when I fractured my back in 8th grade. It’s the people that made these moments so special.

Mr. Peters has often said that schools are not buildings they are people. I could not agree more. As beautiful as our school is, with time, I will get used to new buildings and new spaces. I won’t miss the senior dining room as a space. I’ll miss the people who filled it. In my 15 years here, St. George’s has become home and I have grown extremely comfortable here. As it became time to make a college decision I remembered the words of Ms. Vasil, who was one of the most influential teachers in my time here but who moved to Washington D.C. last year. She told our class that she had grown too comfortable and it was time to make a change. Those words were in my mind when I chose to attend Sewanee. It was the uncomfortable choice, it was what St. George’s refers to as a healthy risk. I picked the road less travelled and my hope is, that it will make all the difference.

As I was leaving St. George’s late at night a few weeks ago, I happened to turn around and look back. The school was dimly light but it was just bright enough for me to make out several Frisbees scattered across the rooftops. I could not help but smile. I asked myself the same question I have been asking myself this entire year: where else? Where else?

I am not sure I’ll ever be able to answer that question. My experience at St. George’s has truly been one of a kind and I hate that our journey is coming to an end. But this isn’t goodbye, that’s tomorrow. I’ll leave you all with a challenge to appreciate the small things and to make new friends but hold onto the ones that have made your time here so special.

Thank you.

Three Refrains for the Class of 2017: A Commencement Address

Good afternoon! Welcome to all gathered here in support of the St. George’s Independent School’s Class of 2017. This class has on a regular basis made me proud to be a part of this community.

These seniors have earned this day in this place surrounded by this group—surrounded by families, by faculty, by staff, and by friends. They are an accomplished group—it is beyond my ability to delineate every contribution here though suffice to say, the members of this class have impacted our school in positive and lasting ways. They have been scholars, artists, athletes, actors, friends, mistake-makers, victory-winners, supporters, leaders, Saturday-schoolers; they have been members of teams, makers of grades, givers of service, and they have sometimes stayed up most of the night and slept most of the day. They have been part of us, vital parts of the body of this school, their school. Perhaps representative of this, next week many of them will continue to represent St. George’s in state athletic competition in Track, Tennis, Baseball and Soccer. LET ME ASK ANY SENIOR COMPETING NEXT WEEK TO STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED. Clearly, we aren’t quite ready to let go of you yet!

 I too often live in my head—there are always things churning around up here between my ears. And indeed, such was the case as I started to work through what I might tell this class, this memorable class of 2017, before they cross this stage and move ahead to what comes next. I started and restarted and stopped and pondered. I was taking too long, and I was risking falling short of my duty, my last duty, to this group before they join the impressive alumni group of this school.

And then I had a three-campus experience Friday morning that resolved my dilemma. In the first three hours of the day, I shook hands with Memphis campus students and families heading into their awards ceremony, and later I witnessed as teachers on the Germantown campus recognized students for citizenship, and finally, I hurried over to Agape Chapel where I met up with you and read you a story and rehearsed this very ceremony. After all that, I realized that I don’t have something new to say, but I do have a couple of refrains to share—I need a last determined calling out to you, imploring you to stay focused on what is most important. Here is my list: number one, honor others; number two, celebrate other’s accomplishments; number three, remember the simple good.

The Memphis campus students are becoming excellent at shaking hands and making eye contact with me. I think I may have scared some of them earlier in the year when I mentioned in my teacher voice that I would like them to work on this skill, so on Friday as I was greeting them, a number held their eyes particularly wide open to make sure I would note their quality eye-contact, as they stopped long enough to say: “Good morning, Mr. Peters” or as a few say, “Good morning, Mr. Ross Peters.” They are learning that that it is important to greet others well in order to recognize and value, even in that fleeting moment of a hand-shake, the lives of others. This ritual of shaking hands is a way that we honor each other, a way that we name each other, and a way that we humanize each other. A warm greeting, long enough to make eye contact, short enough not to hold up the line, stands for all the ways we honor others.

I missed a good bit of the Germantown Award ceremony in route from the Memphis campus. Hurrying from my car I made it to the Chapel just in time to see the Citizenship Awards. I edged along the outside aisle to find a seat behind Ms. Colgate, who along with Carolyn Wilder Morton, Jane Finney and Pat McGraw is retiring at the end of this school year. LET ME ASK THAT EACH OF THEM STAND TO BE RECOGNIZED. So after taking my seat, I had a perfect view of each teacher greeting and celebrating with the students being recognized. There was a lovely intimacy in this exchange—the teacher handing a certificate to an excited child, the two of them turning together toward the camera to get their picture taken. Beyond the stage there was a joyously full chapel with kids and families, teachers, and staff not simply clapping for those recognized but living within a connection to each other—a kind of communion. It is a beautiful convergence for me that just moments ago we celebrated the accomplishments of four members of our community whose lives within St. George’s were defined by supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of others. So, to the Class of 2017 in whatever life you build, do that, please, do what they and many others have done for you…celebrate and support others.

After ghosting away immediately after the Germantown campus Awards Ceremony, I drove to the Agape Chapel and met you there. I did on the last weekday of your Senior year what I did on one of the very first days of Pre-K for another group when I arrived in 2015—I read you a children’s story. There is so much that is intricate and complex in our world—it is not going to get simpler. That said, it is often the simple things, the things we first heard from the lips of our parents or learned from gentle nudges from our first teachers or even heard in a story read to us as we drifted to sleep at bedtime that offer us the guidance to navigate the world. Those stories tell us to: listen, cooperate, share, forgive, be kind, and love.

We live within a culture defined to a large degree by the priority of “getting what’s mine”, as in “I am determined to get what’s mine.” The class of 2017 does not need to learn but rather they need to remember Dr. King’s counter-point to that potentially corrosive cultural characteristic. I discussed this topic in our MLK Chapel early this year. He said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” I said in January and echo today that, “this question should remain before us like a gentle and divine push on our backs directing us where to go.” Seniors, you felt this push shaking hands, you felt it as you developed your sense of community. It is in the end a push toward something really simple, but not at all easy. It is the challenge of our lives.

Godspeed Class of 2017! Thank you.

Above: the 2016-2017 St. George’s Independent School Prefects

Above: new graduates celebrating in front of the SGIS Agape Chapel

From the South Asheville Cemetery to Thurburbo Maius #tbt

For this week’s #tbt , I thought of this one from 2012 as my memories of a special trip to Egypt and Tunisia in the summer before the Arab Spring came back to mind. Please excuse the formatting strangeness–I originally migrated this entry from another platform.

Ross All Over the Map

Vintage Postcard depiction of Asheville, North Carolina from Beaucatcher Ridge 

Just east of downtown Asheville, North Carolina the land rises steeply toward Beaucatcher Ridge and on its other side, as it falls away further east, is the Kenilworth neighborhood where my wife and I lived in the late nineties.  It is a lovely shaded place that, while not run down, had not yet been brought to the high sheen of gentrification, so often a potential in such places.  It was an eclectic mix of houses—as if the neighborhood had grown in fits and starts.  To the right of our ranch house on the uphill side of Kenilworth Road were hints of an old road or wagon path, which coursed back up toward the ridge and about 200 yards further on turned ninety degrees from west to south then continued along the contours of the land, neither gaining or losing altitude.  I…

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