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I wish I could go back...
It is August 2011. I am 6 years old, nervously gripping my green tote bag as my older siblings, Grace and Luke, drop me off at Mrs. Whitecage's first grade classroom. My first year starting school and my first of many, many years at Shorecrest.
Reflecting on this moment now, as I am minutes away from tossing my cap into the air at this very same school, I wish I could go back. I wish that I could go back and tell that little girl that the kids in that classroom would be the kindest, funniest, and most supportive friends that I could ever make. That those kids who wiped my tears after I fell off the monkey bars on the Lower School playground would be the same kids who would wipe my tears after we talked about having to say goodbye. I would tell her that this school that I just stepped my sketcher light-up shoes into for the first time would be the place that I would grow into the woman I am today.
And while I thought that my login name Leary23 seemed like an unreal future year when I would become a Shorecrest alumnus -- I would like to thank my fellow graduates, faculty, administration, family, and friends, for all being here today.
My name is Rose Leary, and I am deeply honored to be able to share this last speech here this morning and to have served as your Student Council President for this outstanding group of people.
This year we have been able to revel in being the center of attention. I always joke with my friends that being a senior at Shorecrest will be the last time I am ever this important in my life. So, today while you are celebrating your well-deserved accomplishment, please take the time to thank those who surround you. Thank the administration for always supplying us with a safe space to talk, but, most importantly, the snacks. Thank the teachers who put in extra time to make sure you thrive in their classes. Thank your friends for never leaving your side. Thank your family for providing you with support during your time at Shorecrest and bolstering your journey through your high school years. My family are my biggest cheerleaders, and I would never have gotten to where I am without them by my side.
While writing this speech, I found myself stumped with how to share our best memories with one another all wrapped up into a few minutes. I sent out a form to ask the grade for their favorite memories and received a deluge of answers. Just Dance in the mini gym, catching tadpoles in the flooded playground, Commotion in the Ocean, Fall Festival and Splash Day, wearing boots two sizes too big as we explored the mangroves in the outdoor classroom, Common Grounds, us Florida kids dramatically crying in D.C. because there was a blizzard and everyone only packed running shoes, the Soccer State Championship Game, having the best freshman cheer routine the administration had ever seen, doing the splits at prom, painting our senior spots, Football State champions for back to back years.
However, the answer that stuck out to me the most was not one specific memory but rather a feeling that we all shared together. The feeling of coming together as one class, of finally seeing what the older grades meant when they would say “just wait until senior year, you’ll never hold on so tightly to the people around you.”
Eating breakfast and lunch together at the senior tables, playing Scattergories in the admin’s office, celebrating our college admissions, water wars, shuffleboarding, winning homecoming, Grad Bash, prom, Senior Sunrise. We held each other up during the bad days, and let each other soar on the good ones. We created memories that I cannot wait to tell my kids about one day. These memories are poignant signs, indicating the deep relationships in which we have formed here. They make for a truly astounding bond that only the 90 of us on stage understand. And this is why although saying goodbye can be so painful, it just shows how much love is awaiting our return.
Sometimes in life, all we want to do is slam on the brakes, to suspend momentum, to pause time for just a little bit. However, like it always seems to be, life has different plans for us, and instead decides to hurtle us forward in time, growing up unaware of its passing. This is one of those times. I want to pause in this moment right here, with each of us on stage, eager for the future and all the potential that it holds. I look out at you all today and feel nothing but pride, excitement, and yes, sadness. However, instead of being saddened by leaving our time at Shorecrest behind, I say instead we learn from our time here. And no, I am not talking about the pythagorean theorem, conjugating Spanish verbs, or deciphering a Shakespearean poem, but rather the lifelong lessons that have been bestowed upon us here.
As we pack our rooms into shipping boxes and suitcases, let us also pack pieces from our younger selves who have allowed us to grow into the graduates that we are.
From our Lower School selves, let us learn to always be kind, because life is far more fun when you play with everyone on the playground.
From our Middle School selves, let us learn that it is okay not “to fit in”, that it is better to be unapologetically yourself than who you think people want you to be. From our high school selves, let us learn that time is precious–time is fleeting. We must savor the minutes of every day, no matter how mundane they may feel, because one day we'll look back and realize that these were, in the words of Macklemore, the "Good Old Days."
So, class of 2023, we have reached the end of our road together. And I know that this is not a dead end. That this is simply a fork in the road, branching off into 90 different paths. My greatest hope is that these roads meet again, and that I get to see each and every single one of you in our future. So we can look back on these years, share a laugh, and maybe a few nostalgic tears. There is a reason that this ceremony is not called “conclusion,” but rather “Commencement.” We are commencing our future, commencing the unknown journeys that life will take us on, commencing the development of adulthood as we figure out who we are on our own. While we still may look back, we are now coursing forward. Congratulations to every individual on this stage. We have all worked extremely hard to be sitting here today, and words cannot describe the relief and pride that we must all be feeling. In a few moments, we will be high school graduates, ready to ink a new map of our lives and embark on a new journey. While I currently cannot imagine a world where I won't see all of you everyday, I am reassured with the thought that I will see a world which will benefit from our impact. Let us step forward into this world with the intent to positively change it, something that I know all of us are capable of doing.
And on that note, Fatima, the centennial Class of 2023 is signing out.
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