2021 Upper School Graduation Speaker — Hanu S.

1,365 days ago I, along with the rest of the incoming class of 2021, ventured into the high school wing of Roycemore for the first time. A week later, 1,355 days ago, we participated in our first upper school picnic, won our first tug of war, and painted our first class mural (even if we did forget to put our year on it), and started to form the beginnings of our class identity. 1233 days ago, we had our first JST, which for many of us meant truly understanding what a Roycemore education would mean outside of the classroom. 1,173 days ago, our class preformed in our first Palio, and before long, our freshman year was over. Over the next two years, these events marked points in our growth as individuals and as a collective; each field trip, each “mandatory fun” assembly, and each water melon eating contest created a shared experience that each of us could relate to.

But, 455 days ago, on Friday the 13th, all of us were sent home for what I will admit felt like early spring break at the time. None of us understood what had happened, what was happening, or what was going to happen. There were overreactions, under reactions, and those in-between, and the gravity of removing all those experiences we had once taken for granted hadn’t hit any of us yet. But as spring turned into summer and we had to watch the class of 2020 graduate on ZOOM I think I finally started to realize how different the last year of high school would be.

In the first few weeks, I mourned the lost events, the ones we mark our calendars for and take pictures of. The performances, the proms, the things that have their own pages in the yearbook. But as time went on, I started to realized what I missed most weren’t the things that stood out, but the everyday interactions that were no longer available online. Even as we came back to school in the fall many of those exchanges did not come back.

Would we have done the same things if we had known that everything would change on that Friday? Would we have savored every moment with those who we wouldn’t see for longer than a year, or possibly never again? Those who we never even got to say goodbye to? Those who have been lost, permanently, to a pandemic fundamentally changing even those that it spares? I hope so.

In other words, I hope each and every one of us will see each moment for what it is: precious. Each passing conversation, each shared laugh, each welcoming smile is valuable and should never be taken for granted. As we graduate and move into the next stage of their lives, I hope that we are able to find value in every moment of life. In the words of Nicki Minaj, “I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn’t mean you’re alive.”

Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2021!

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