by Grace Powers '15, Class Speaker
Hi, my name is Grace Powers, and I’m so incredibly thankful to speak on behalf of this senior class. First, welcome to friends and family. Thank you to faculty, staff, and administration, for getting us here, pushing us when we didn’t want to be pushed, and trusting us when we didn’t trust ourselves. Classmates, thank you for entrusting me with this incredible honor. Finally, Sally, thank you for making the executive decision to have graduation in the gym. For those of you who don’t know me, I have quite an uncontrollable and inexplicable fear of walking birds, and if this graduation was outside those geese would have put quite a damper on things.
I’m sure that everyone in the audience today can look at a specific senior, if not more than one, and envision the life she may lead ten years from now. Your dreams for her may not be completely accurate, but you have hopes for her, and you know that in whatever she do, she will continue to astound you. That is what our class does. We are a body of 28 girls, overflowing with passion, drive, and limitless imagination. Wherever you may find us in ten years, whether it’s bumping into us in the frozen pizza aisle of the grocery store, or on the front page of the New York Times, you will see the same passion in our eyes that you see today.
While trying to decide what I would like to say today that would be informative, memorable, and hopefully entertaining, I began to fantasize about the future of the class of 2015. Not as separate individuals scattered around the globe, but as the powerful force that we are sitting here today, together.
Therefore, let me walk you through my fantasy. First, imagine a room. It’s quite large, and very circular, with walls at least two stories high. There are rows of desks joined together in a curve, all facing the front, where a large podium looks back at the assembled group. Each spot is equipped with a comfortable rolly chair that provides enough lumbar support and doesn’t hurt when you sit in it for too long, while still maintaining a professional appearance. Each desk has small microphones attached to the top of it (much like this one). At the front, there’s a place for presentations and speakers. Flags from around the world line the walls of the room. Each desk has a small nameplate for all 28 of us, each one personalized with our name. The nameplates are made out of gold, obviously. The class of 2015 keeps it classy right now, and will continue to keep it classy ten years from now in this room. Have you guessed where we are? Of course. This the General Assembly, where the UN holds meetings and... we are the UN. A banner will hang at the front of the room, with word’s derived from Beyonce’s song “Run the World” but we’ve inserted extras word so the banner reads “Who runs the world? Stoneleigh Burnham Girls”. What we are doing in the room appears to be like what governing bodies do, which is make decisions that we believe will better humanity and society. However, unlike many current forms of government, we will actually get stuff done.
Now that we’ve established that we will be effectively running the world, let me pause for a moment, so you can look at your future leaders…….. You should be incredibly pleased. Now, our first order of business: the Arab Israeli Conflict, which I calculate will take us about 13 minutes to solve.
When presented with an issue that we are incredibly passionate about, we, the class of 2015, will give it our undivided attention. Not only has the Arab Israeli conflict been the center of many heated debates in history class, but these debates have been carried outside the classroom, to the dining hall, the sports fields, even to the riding arenas. Wherever or whenever we discuss this issue, we passionately defend our stance, backing it up with not just emotion, but verification and documentation.
This doesn’t mean that we all have the same opinion. It means that we’ve all learned to appreciate other opinions. We are paradoxically cohesive and diverse, and therefore we feel comfortable thinking differently, because while our ideas will be challenged, they will not be put down. The magic of this class isn’t that we are only similar, but that we are also so different. Yet, we still have respect and appreciation for one another.
Of course, there may be minor details that we may get hung up on. For instance, while we may argue a little on how to solve a conflict, I sense that our main argument will focus on “how to vote to solve the conflict.” One of the main arguments we’ve had as a class hasn’t been about what to do, but rather “how to vote on what to do,” which really makes for very interesting class meetings. However, I’m confident that this argument can be solved with a lot of Mrs. Fields cookies, Chinese food, Diet Coke, and coffee, all of which, in my fantasy will be conveniently stored in the UN break room, located to the left of the back exit of the conference room.
But that’s just a fantasy. Reality is the challenging part. You may be wondering, “so how does the class of 2015 running the world relate to the realities we will face in the next ten years, and beyond? The reality is, once we walk out these doors we’re going to embark on completely separate journeys, scattered in different industries and different cities. Who knows, for some of us, today could be the last time we set foot on Stoneleigh Burnham soil. However, whether we’re seated in UN, or out on some ranch in Montana, we’re all still connected by a common thread, and that thread is the fact that we are owls for life. An owl for life isn’t just someone who comes to every single Stoneleigh Burnham home game, or just someone who comes to every single reunion. An owl for life is someone who has spent time at Stoneleigh Burnham, living, learning, working, and growing. It doesn’t matter if that time was six years, one year, or six weeks. Stoneleigh Burnham will remain present in our lives, maybe through reunions, or maybe through a new skill learned here.
I know that for me, I used to talk like this in class. I would raise my hand and people would have to strain their ears to listen to me - I don’t think a dog could have heard me.
Look at me now.
Thank you, Stoneleigh Burnham. That is just one way you’ve changed me, and I’m positive everyone in this class has a similar story.
So, class of 2015, as we drive down the tree-lined driveway, past the cross country field, over the speedbumps, past those four terrifying geese, know that this school has shaped us. Know that we are ready to move on. Know that every single owl for life is proud of us. But, know that the driveway has two lanes, and we can always drive right back into the oval and find support whenever we wish.