(#2 of 2) Straight From Class of 2016 Mouths: Commencement

Valedictorian Sope Adeleye and Salutatorian Sydney Lanyon at Baccalaureate
Valedictorian Sope Adeleye and Salutatorian Sydney Lanyon at Baccalaureate

[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 ceremonies 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 Commencement Addresses–in the last post I included excerpts from the Baccalaureate Addresses. I have posted my own address from Commencement HEREBelow 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.]


Sydney Lanyon (Salutatorian):

Yes, St. George’s is a school; it is a building with classrooms and teachers where, after your time is finished, you receive a diploma and go on your way. After all, that’s what brings us all here today. So, yes, St. George’s is a school, but what it teaches isn’t just school…there is math, science, English, and history, but I can confidently and proudly say that these are actually insignificant in comparison to the other lessons St. George’s has taught me.

St. George’s teaches compassion, the importance of perseverance, accepting your mistakes, and doing your best to correct them, treasuring your relationships, and cherishing your time, making other people happy–knowing that is how personal happiness is attained, being selfless, trusting and relying on God, and knowing that while faith is mighty, action with faith is mightier. St. George’s teaches smiling even when things aren’t going the way you’d like for them.

St. George’s teaches to put away your worries and fears and deciding not to let them hold you back, to throw away the store-bought and spoon-fed guidelines in order to make our own paths and experience a life we think worth living.

St. George’s teaches that happiness depends more on our character than our circumstances. St. George’s gives you the freedom to learn, the freedom to be yourself.

St. George’s teaches you in different ways and allows you to take the lesson in your personal direction.

I want to read y’all a quotation that I think reads true to what St. George’s is all about: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” [African Proverb]

I believe that there are few institutions as successful as this school in solidifying young people’s sense of themselves with such integrity, positivity, and resourcefulness.

Sope Adeleye (Valedictorian):

I have realized that going to this school has led me on a path that has allowed me to learn things I never thought I would learn, grow more than I ever would have expected, and experience things I never could have imagined.

…I learned the lesson that here on our path at St. George’s what we expected and what we experienced rarely matched because this place and the people of St. George’s almost always exceeded our expectations.

Mom and Dad, choosing to send me to St. George’s is the second best thing you have ever done for me other than teaching me to love God above everything else, and there is no way I can repay you for it.

Finally, I want to thank the Class of 2016 because you all have made my time at St. George’s life-changing. So now I want everyone to take just a moment to look around and take it all in because this is it. This is the last time we will be all together, like this as one class, and remember that there was a point where two roads diverged in a wood, and we, the Class of 2016, took the one with St. George’s and that has made all the difference.

Portrait of a Graduate:

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2 thoughts on “(#2 of 2) Straight From Class of 2016 Mouths: Commencement

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