written and delivered by Julia Thayer '18, Head-Elect of Student Body
1,578,240 minutes. That is how much time has passed since I was sitting in a chair at my eighth grade moving up ceremony. I remember the way I felt that morning as I hopped out of bed much earlier than I needed to, motivated by the thought of becoming an upper schooler. I remember walking past Lower Mary Burnham to get to the Capen Room and thinking, “after today, this will no longer be my hallway.” I remember too, the way my stomach dropped when I thought about the fact that I would have both grades and exams next year. But the most vivid memory of all was of Bill reading a poem composed of a sentence from every one of my classmates that summarized their middle school experience at Stoneleigh Burnham.
Each sentence was unique, and offered a vastly different perspective than the last. However, they all fit together perfectly, forming a poem that encapsulated the essence of Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School. From the fond Founders' Day memories to funny moments in MOCA meetings, my favourite experiences seemed to flash before my eyes as Bill read my class’ poem out loud.
I sincerely hope you all have a similar experience today as Bill reads your special poem at the end of the ceremony. I hope you smile when you think of your first day walking through the big blue doors, whether it was one or two years ago. I hope you feel supported when you think of your big sister, who helped guide you throughout your time as a student here. Most importantly, I hope you feel gratitude when you think of the teachers and friends who have supported you and helped you get to this moment. Whether you are choosing to further your academic career at SBS or elsewhere, bring that feeling of gratitude with you. There is no student more valuable than one willing to apply their best self to every task they face. I know each of you is capable of being that student, because you have proven yourselves throughout your time at this school. Being in middle school is not easy, despite what some high schoolers may say. What those who dismiss middle school as a walk in the park have forgotten is that the challenges of life are not measured by academic rigour or by homework loads. Life challenges are: making new friends. Becoming comfortable in a different environment than you are used to. Discovering good and bad things about yourself everyday. These are struggles we all face, which are particularly significant as a middle school student. As you endeavour to understand yourself as a human being, as well as develop an understanding for the community around you, you are overcoming these challenges. However, you are not done yet. For I would like to issue my very own challenge to you, my friends, that you must complete by your senior year.
Class of 2021, buckle up, for you are about to embark on a new journey. This journey will be filled with great achievement, and occasional failure. It will be filled with moments of pride, and moments of shame. There will be times when you feel like you are invincible, and times when you think you are two feet tall. My challenge to you, is this. Bring the lessons that you have learned at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School with you as you develop yourself as a student and as a person. Do not ignore your personal beliefs and values, even when they are questioned by those around you. For if you follow your moral compass, I guarantee you , you will never be lead astray. In the face of adversity, hold your head up high and smile proudly, for you know you have the strength to overcome the struggle in front of you. Most importantly, Class of 2021, be kind to yourself, and to one another. In a world such as this, kindness is the most precious quality anyone could possibly possess. Get ready to complete your challenge; as of right now, you have 2,105,280 minutes.