"Faculty, First Class" by Madeleine Smith

Mr. Henderson, students, parents, faculty, staff, and the Class of 2012, good morning. As the wise 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush, once said, “Rarely is the question asked, ‘Is our children learning?’” I think I represent the Class of 2012 when I say that here, at Nobles, we IS learning.

This faculty and staff have taught us, supported us, and guided us both when we made it difficult and when we made it rewarding. Please know that what you have given us of yourselves will reverberate throughout the rest of our lives.

This special relationship among faculty and students that exists here is one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Nobles in the first place. I sat through one Assembly—a performance by the middle school jazz band, a personal anecdote from a teacher, a phone ringing and a cold stare from Mr. Henderson—and it was love at first sight. And Derek Chilvers sang. Did you know he goes to Penn now?

I mention him because, reflecting back on my first days here, a memory that sticks out is the day that there was no more room for me on the ninth grade retreat bus heading to Kings. Already a shy, awkward, insecure, pre-accutane freshman girl wearing her mother’s version of first day clothes and a face full of braces, Ms. Cocozza directed me to the junior bus and a seat next to Derek Chilvers and his friends. Can you picture it?

Enough of that...I’ve grown a lot since that day, all of us have. And who we are now is a cumulative product of all of the moments we have spent here. Moments when we felt uncomfortable, like mine on the junior bus, or the time I managed to fall into a bucket of water in front of the entire school at lunch. Moments when we felt triumphant, like when everyone showed up to support the boy’s hockey team against Avon, or when Mr. Gallagher gave a pump-up speech on stage before the Friday Night Lights football game. And everyday moments, like when we have to chit five dollars for a single cookie at a bake sale, or how everyone gets mad at whoever keeps putting fluff in the Panini maker. Who will forget that the words, “Faculty, First Class” have begun every day we have spent here?

We have shared all of these moments together. This is our shared history, and it binds us whether we are close friends, or simply acquaintances who smile at each other in the hallway. Armed with this incredible Nobles education, I hope we will all go on to great things in the future. I mean isn’t it obvious that Rowan is going to be the next Will Ferrell, or that Zach Soule will eventually win a Nobel Prize? Can’t we all picture Isabella Kursh launching a new book series, or Marco Castro making millions off a video of his new ab routine?

As we go forward, we will all end up in different places, doing different things and establishing ourselves in new communities. As we do this, I hope we can remember the things we learned together that got us to this point as a class and will serve as a foundation to build on in the future. As I reflect on what this class has learned, I’m speaking directly to you, Class IV.

We learned to stop worrying so much about what other people think of us, if you want to sing, sing. If you want to go to Debate Club, go. We learned to reach across the social barriers that we so guarded freshman year. We learned that being kind is easier and much more valuable than not being kind. And lastly, we have learned that sometimes, it is okay to “borrow” things from the lost and found.

We have come so far and learned so much. But even as we look toward our bright future, I think it is important to recognize that we are who we are today because of the people who have loved us unconditionally and supported us from the beginning, our parents and our families. Can someone pass my mom a tissue?

We are all bringing different thoughts and feelings to this day. Some of us have been crossing days off the calendar since ninth grade; some of us want to live in senior spring forever; and others of us are wondering how we are supposed to transition from this encouraging and structured community out into the world. Regardless of how we feel, we are now armed with this great education, the support of our family and community, and lessons learned. We should use these gifts to try to live up to the mission of this school: to lead lives characterized by service to others and to inspire leadership for the public good. Isn’t that the point of this great education?

To the Class of 2012:
We don’t know how our lives will intersect in the future, though I know they will. My dad still plays tennis every Monday with his high school doubles partner, so I’ll see you out there, Gigi Anderson. We do know for certain, however, that there will always be parts of us all over this campus, and parts of this campus that make up who we are.

It is inevitable that as we leave here today, everything is going to change. And that’s a good thing, we worked hard for this moment. But let’s always remember what we had here together. Thank you.

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"Faculty, First Class" by Madeleine Smith