“Community Goes Both Ways” by Dana Grey ’15

Mr. Henderson, members of the faculty, parents of the graduating class, grandparents, members of classes two through six, guests, and members of the class of 2015, welcome.

Exactly one year ago from today, I walked into Beth Israel Hospital in Boston with my father. We were visiting my mother for the first time following her surgery. Thinking back, I realize now that I had not grasped the reality and terror of the situation until the nurse pulled back the sky blue curtain, and I saw my mom. Two months prior, when she had sat me down and told me she had breast cancer, I was so numbed by the news that I showed little emotion. But when I saw her the night of her surgery, I felt blindsided. The woman who had been my rock for seventeen years lay vulnerable and pale and she couldn’t complete a sentence. She looked as if she were dying. When I moved toward the bed to comfort her, my knees buckled, and I dropped to the floor.

My mom’s diagnosis crushed me. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was struggling with the most difficult of semester of my high school career.  But this community and the people in it gave me incredible support and love to help me deal with my situation. This past year turned out to be one of the best of my life. I learned so, so much. I’ll share with you a quote my mom always throws in my face when I’m encountering adversity. Like the NASA Apollo 13 ground control commander, she’ll drawl, “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.” And that’s the attitude she took as she fought for her life. I’ve learned to appreciate this motto of optimism and applied it to my life.

Thankfully, this is not a sad story and not a sad day. What I want to do this morning is to somehow articulate how amazing this community is and how it has helped and shaped me more than I could have possibly imagined. When I first set foot onto Campus Drive over six years ago, I almost immediately sensed how special this school was. There are many clues to outsiders that will tell them what kind of institution this is, such as our beautiful campus and the fact that we have more sports titles and castles put together than any other school around. However, one cannot truly appreciate the complete Nobles experience until one calls this place home. Until you have been a part of a standing ovation in assembly for a middle school performer taking one of the biggest risks they’ll ever take, until you’ve been jam-packed into the Omni and lost your voice cheering for a world-class high school hockey team, or until you’ve sat out on the beach or taken a walk on the cross country trails by the Charles, you can’t appreciate the beauty and power of this place and community. What shapes the experience of students here is the exceptional character and caring of the extraordinary faculty. Empathy and togetherness can be found in every corner on this campus, through simple waves and smiles in the halls, by supporting each other’s clubs during X block, and through coming together every morning in assembly to share our talents and perspectives.

Never in a million years did I think my mother would get cancer, and never in a million years would I have thought that this school would be the primary reason I would get through it all. Who could predict that such an awful thing would happen? I know I’m not alone in this regard, but for those who have been fortunate enough not to go through this horror, let me state the obvious: when you are faced with something like that, tests, college apps, and who’s dating whom mean nothing. One might argue that life comes down to five or six pivotal moments, and what I’ve learned is that this school has prepared me in ways that I never could have anticipated. It has given me the confidence in myself and the confidence to trust others around me. You can talk all you want about the beautiful buildings, the amazing college office and high test scores, but what makes this place so wonderful is the people. Quickly, I would like to thank a few specific people, my caring advisor Jody McQuillan, my life mentor Bill Bussey, my amazing Co-President and best friend in the world, Joelle, my family joining me here today—my brother, Arlo, my dad, and my beautiful mother. I want to thank the Senior Class of 2015 for everything that each and every one of them has done for over these past 6 years. It has been an unbelievable journey with all of you and I wouldn’t change a thing. From the bottom of my heart to all of you, thank you.

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“Community Goes Both Ways” by Dana Grey ’15