[Late on Sunday afternoon, May 22nd, members of the Class of 2016 at St. George’s Independent School walked across the stage, shook a couple of hands, and received their diplomas. Both the Baccalaureate Service and Commencement Ceremony were lovely. There were a total of four student addresses–two at Baccalaureate and two at Commencement, and each was excellent. In this post I have pulled excerpts from the two Baccalaureate Addresses–in the next post I have included excerpts from the Salutatorian and Valedictory Addresses at Commencement. I have posted my own address from Commencement HERE. Below the excerpts, I have included St. George’s “Portrait of a Graduate”.
As I re-read each talk, I was struck by two things: first, the families, faculty, and staff of St. George’s should feel proud of the school’s newest graduates, as well as proud of the supportive role they played for the class, and second, it will be our work going forward to deserve such praise fully. Their ability to capture the meaning of the St. George’s experience they have had was particularly impressive, and interestingly they were able to put into words so much that is directly relevant to our highest aspirations for the education we wish to provide.]
Mary Ragan Selberg:
While trying to think of a funny story to start out this speech, I came up empty handed. It’s not because we don’t have any funny stories because, trust me we do. It’s that the funny stories don’t do justice to my past fifteen years at St. George’s. Because my journey here hasn’t just been the culmination of funny stories–it’s the culmination of spending every day with people you love at the best school ever.
St. George’s has been a place for us to grow , to learn, to compete, to laugh and to cry. “Experiencing More” has been more than just a slogan we see everywhere here, it’s been a way of life. There is a magical feeling one gets walking through these doors. A feeling of belonging and comfort, and the strange sense that you are in a ski lodge. This school has been our cheerleader–encouraging us to be who we are and to take risks.
[St. George’s] teaches us to embrace differences and take advantage of individuality…in its incredible three campus model that brings together students of all different backgrounds. St. George’s teaches that nobody determines your self-worth besides yourself. St. George’s lets us know that just because we are growing older doesn’t mean we have to grow up. St. George’s has been home for me since I was three.
In the final episode of THE OFFICE, Andy Dwyer says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” And, wow is that accurate. With only one day left I wish I could start all over. I wish this wasn’t my last day as a St. George’s student.
Fellow members of the Class of 2016, thank you. Thank you for growing up with me and forever being part of my good old days. Thanks for accepting me and letting me be who I am. Thanks for being my favorite combination of athletes, artists, geniuses, leaders, and comedians in the entire world. Thank you for being my second family, you all rock, and I love y’all.
Your family is something you hold close to your heart, you don’t get to choose, and you love for reasons you sometimes cannot explain. If you think about it, the Class of 2016 has a lot of the same characteristics as a family.
The Class of 2016 is anything but boring. Our different backgrounds, personalities, and interests make us who we are.
It is easy to love someone whom you share commonalities with, but St. George’s has taught us to also love those who are different from us, a lesson I will always cherish.
As many of you know, I fight a lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis. Although I look like a normal kid and have been able to accomplish many things, my body is in a constant competition with itself to stay alive. I have had many days where I did not feel good enough to come to school, but I have come because I need the love of my friends to keep going. In my house we call this the “hospital effect.” When I was admitted to the hospital going into seventh grade, I was very sick. The doctors made me stay there for a few days, but I did not improve quickly enough. My parents and I begged the doctors to release me so that I could be with my friends. Finally,the doctors consented and let me out. Once surrounded by my friends, my health went back to normal. You all have made me want to fight harder and have never treated me any differently because of my condition.
To quote Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” But to be clear, this is not goodbye. Please don’t let this be a goodbye. In fact, so that you all have no excuse to forget about me, my phone number is 901–are you writing this down? 901-XXX-XXXX.
PORTRAIT OF A GRADUATE: