“Change” by Joelle Sherman ’15

Mr. Henderson, Faculty, Family, Friends, and fellow students welcome again to the Noble and Greenough School Graduation for the Class of 2015.

I must begin by giving thanks.

Mom and Dad: Thank you for your unconditional love, support, and perspective. Looking back on the lines you helped me memorize, flashcards you helped me review, and Kardashian TV time you tolerated, this graduation is also a celebration of you.

Harry: Thank for making me laugh every single day, and thank you for your patience. I am so proud of you and impressed by the fact that you make kindness your number one priority.

I love you all so much.

Dana: To quote Taylor Swift: “I’m not a princess and this ain’t a fairytale,” but our time together has been better than I ever imagined in my “wildest dreams.” Thank you.

Faculty: There are so many of you I want to thank individually, but there is not enough time in this speech. This was the most difficult thank you for me to write. On the days when I dreaded the alcoves, I was still excited to come to class. Thank you for making class about so much more than what we were learning. Thank you for your love and wisdom inside and outside of the classroom. You’ve helped me start to figure out who I am and who I want to be. I cannot imagine a greater gift.

I find coins to be a consistent nuisance. My hands always seem to be preoccupied or overburdened in the moments when I am expected to collect them. I don’t like how heavy they make my wallet and pockets or the way they seem to litter any space I try to clean, and it’s not like I can throw away the dime in my cup holder, like the paperclip, crumbs, and empty bag of chips it associates with, because the dime in the cup holder, the penny in the drawer, they have value. But their value is rather impractical and tedious to account for. Eleven cents of lingering weight and clutter are inevitably insufficient and incomplete—just a leftover tenth and hundredth of what once was a whole.

My dad has the same aversion to coinage. Whenever he has spare coins, he leaves them on my desk and claims to be “gifting me the power of change.” However, change is not a power—it’s an unsettling constant. A constant that I usually do not like to count; I prefer to mark time with anniversaries, because they make moments of change consistent; predictable sentiments at predictable times every year.

I think of the First day of sixie year, when I felt totally intimidated.
First French class, first Nobles friend.
First time I believed I could be good at math (Thanks Ms. Turner!).
First time I cried in front of a teacher, (second, third…)
First time I realized my friends were making new friends.
First time I finally felt like I was, too.
First time I admitted that my cats, Tobias and McDougal, are named after famed Latin teaching fellow, Tobias McDougal.
First time I woke up in the city, first time it felt like home.
First time I felt like I made Nobles mine.

I think of the first time “Faculty, first class” dismissed our class from assembly.
First time we got Riverside delivered to the upper school instead of the middle school.
First time we accidentally invited someone to a chat on FirstClass.
First time we bombed a physics test, (second, third…)
First time a teacher made sure we didn’t worry alone.
First time we watched a middle schooler do something incredible in assembly.
First time we started an all-school standing ovation.
First time we sat on the Beach.
First time it felt like we were “All in th15 together.”
First time we felt like we made Nobles ours.

While I intentionally collect these firsts, my accumulating list of lasts does not provide the same familiar relief. There were times I thought it would. Freshman and sophomore Friday nights and Monday mornings, when I couldn’t wait to get closer to this countdown of minutes that today makes me cringe. An internal reflex, like the sting of oncoming tears. Like the oscillating tension of which words to use every time I write.
Because how could I ever communicate, in an assignment, letter or speech all of the things I feel?
You amaze me.
You mean so much to me.
I love you.
Thank you.
I’ll miss you.
Stay in touch.
Are inevitably insufficient and incomplete,
Just fractions of whole feelings, of six years.
which just like my involuntary coin collection
have accumulated over time to be valuable,
To be whole.

To people in the audience with time left at Nobles, invest your attention and care in the people around you, because when your time is up, your relationships will be your most cherished Nobles assets. Take care of each other, celebrate the weird, and take advantage of the fact that, whether or not you realize it, Nobles is yours.

Seniors, thank you for your support, enthusiasm, and wackiness. You are an incredible group of individuals whom I deeply love and appreciate. Our relationship with Nobles is about to change, but I am so excited to see what the future holds for each one of us. While today is the last time we are all in this together as a whole, the value of our wholeness is transferable. We will each leave here today carrying little fractions of Nobles and each other. And those fractions will add value as our lives change.

Today, we have finished what we came here to do, and that is something to celebrate.

Congratulations and Mazel Tov!

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“Change” by Joelle Sherman ’15