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Valedictory Address 2018
Posted 05/22/2018 02:27PM
Giltner Valedictory Address

Here we are at last, after what felt like ages of eagerly watching countdowns on our phones and cheering every time someone announced how many days were left on Friday mornings. Here we are, after enduring thick Sewanee fog and anxiously facing our finals. Now, we're finally here, and waiting to get what we worked so hard for these past four years; I know that's our main goal right now, so I'll try to keep this brief.

First, thank you. Thank you to all of our faculty and staff for keeping us on track (second year of everyone making it here!). Thank you to SAS's donors & trustees for helping to keep this, our second home, running smoothly. Thank you to the SAS alumni for paving the way for us and giving us the traditions that we've loved so dearly during our time here (one of which will happen one more time at the end of our ceremony today). Thank you to our families for all of the countless times along the way that you've helped us out, even when we didn't realize you were helping us. You've all done so much to push us onward, including many things that we haven't even noticed. We couldn't be here without you, so again, thank you for everything you've done for us.

Next, to you, the Class of 2018. Congratulations. As I said, we all made it here -- and that's because because we never did anything like racing down the halls of Simmonds in desk chairs at 2am or offering trash cans to the statue of Saint Andrew. We never petitioned Mother Short to talk about Kendrick Lamar in a sermon, nor did we scream the lyrics to "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift at Mountain T.O.P., and we certainly never debated switching schedules for a day with students at a different high school.

If we had done anything like that, I'd hope we'd never forget it. I'd hope it would come to mind again, maybe just a short time from now as we pack up and leave for college, or maybe years from now, at a reunion, when we could see each other once again and recall the times that we goofed off and watched Netflix instead of doing our homework (purely hypothetical, we've never done that). I'd hope that we'd become a little fonder of the small stories we have here each time we retell them, and that, despite how seemingly insignificant they are to everyone else, these tales of high school wisdom (senior knowledge!) will hold us together as our paths are now diverging. Above all else, I'd hope it reminded us of this little place in the clouds, where dogs wander in the parking lot and the spirits of discarded ice cream cones haunt the sidewalks.

If we'd done anything like organizing a jumpsuit revolution at the mugging or whatever else one might fancy that we, a group of 17- and 18-year-olds, might have done instead of homework, I'd be able to say, without question, that a fantastic class is graduating from SAS today, and that each and every one of them should be incredibly proud of what they've accomplished here. A class that gets to take such spectacular tales with them must have left their marks here, maybe on the ceiling of Room 9 in Simmonds or in the updates to next year's school handbook. That class will undoubtedly change their new places for the better just as they've done to SAS, and I hope they'd be eager to do so as they move on from here.

However, since we've clearly only focused on our studies and never once vanished from class to go check our phones in the hallway, I must leave you with the following. You aren't graduating from SAS by accident. It took dedication to get here, and I know that every single member of this class has worked hard. I truly hope that you are proud of yourselves, and that everyone here with you recognizes what it took to make it this far. We aren't done yet, though -- we're headed off to colleges that span from California to Wales. I know we're ready for the challenges that lie ahead because of what we've accomplished here and what this wonderful place has given to us (except the senioritis). I do hope that, whenever you find yourself feeling lost, uncertain, or just unhappy, you'll remember this place, and all the silly little things that we may or may not have done during our time here, and I hope that all of it lends you strength.


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