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"Construction Zones" by Harry Sherman '17

Good morning everybody, and thank you so much for being here to celebrate this day for the Class of 2017. When Mr. Henderson told me I was going to be the first student speaker, he said I had the distinct advantage of being perhaps the only person to have everyone’s attention. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to make me relax, or imply that I need all the help I could get.

Before I begin there are some important people I need to thank: First my mom and dad, who have been been at almost every single production, concert or game I have ever been a part of, most of which were spent on the bench. You are the reason I am here today. I also need to thank my coaches, who put me on the bench. I want to thank my incredible teachers, for giving me classroom experiences that I will cherish forever. For the parents who might not know or the younger students here who have yet to realize, these teachers are, quite simply, the greatest at what they do. I want to thank my partner in crime Kayla. I completely lucked out getting to be co-presidents with you. Our relationship quickly became one of the most important parts of my Nobles experience. And lastly I want to thank my little big sister, Joelle. There is nothing I could possibly say right now that could make my sister feel sufficiently thanked. However, there is also nothing I could say to sufficiently thank her for the example she has set for me. I love you all.

When writing this speech, I learned an extremely valuable lesson. About three weeks ago, I got an email from Ms. Overzet with the subject line: URGENT: PLEASE READ - Graduation Speech Titles Due TODAY." After pleading to her in a few emails, I was able to squirm and weasel my way into a 12 hour extension. For 12 hours I threw around cliches like “worth the wait” and “how far we’ve come,” but I yearned for something more original.

Construction Zones! I thought. How great would it be if I drew out the metaphor of an ever changing campus with an ever changing group of people? It seemed like a really good start. So I sent in that title and forgot about it for about a week. And then it was time to write. I sat down and all of a sudden, I literally couldn’t produce words. I was trying to bend what I really wanted to say into a cute little metaphor and have my title “Construction Zones” be the perfect, symbolic, little bow on top. The concept of that speech wasn’t horrible, and, if I was actually truly passionate about it, it could have been done really well. But I ran into frustration when I tried to adapt. It started to sound nothing like me. I know nothing about construction, but I was doing research into how to caulk tile so I could talk about it as a metaphor for the faculty here that “holds us together.” It was going to be rough.

My approach to writing this speech reminded me of my approach when I entered Nobles. Before I even stepped foot into the middle school, I considered myself nothing but a hockey player. I entered the middle school wondering what the fastest route to the NHL would be through this place. I’d play a few years of middle school hockey, like all the greats do, and be committed to a division 1 hockey program by the end of my Freshman year. (I would have left to go right to the NHL after my junior year, but I couldn’t have told my coaches that.)

As previously mentioned, my first few years of high school hockey were spent operating the bench door, so I realized I had to find a different path—not to the NHL, but through Nobles itself. So I took it upon myself to dabble in as much as I could, from theater to a capella to a myriad of other clubs—anything so as to not let the pre-determined label that I assigned for myself continue to disappoint me. In a similar way, I couldn’t continue to make this whole speech relate to construction and buildings! So, I decided to change it up. I apologize to anyone who wanted to hear about construction zones. Refreshments should be in that tent if you want to take a hike. Instead, I hope you will humor me while I brag about our incredible class. The Class of 2017.

There is a lot of talent in this class. During our time here, our class has seen Amaya Finklea develop into an unstoppable post scoring threat, Chad Polk turn into one of the country’s best cellists, Trevor McAvoy evolve from a somewhat chubby freshman into one of the leanest pieces of meat on campus, and Helena Jensen mature into one of Nobles strongest voices for social justice. We saw Sophia Millay begin pumping out MFA caliber artwork, and Christian Pisano transform from arguably the kindest person you will ever meet, into without a doubt the kindest person you will ever meet. Everyone brings their own talents to the table.

However, what we do is not what makes the class of 2017 so special. While I may have just told you a list of a few people and what they are good at, you should have gained zero information about what kinds of people those kids really are. They could be really horrible people for all you know! (except Christian, he really is that nice). Who we truly are is very different from what we are good at.

But please take my word for it: behind all of these accolades and talents are some of the most inspiring, funny, kind-hearted, genuine, and resilient people I know. While I am sure many of us were like this before we came to Nobles, I know we owe Nobles for our development not only as athletes, artists and performers, but as people too. If you don’t believe me that this class is really special, take it from Mr. Henderson, who is obviously leaving because he knows that our class will simply be unable to be topped. And let’s not forget that he still has a niece and a nephew at this school.

Earlier this week, Mr. Henderson clarified my message for me when he said that “a fish doesn’t know it’s in water.” Now, what do you get when you take fish out of the water? You all of a sudden get this fish that has a totally new appreciation for where it was before, seeing that surviving in water essentially makes a fish a fish! It is my hope that upon leaving our own ocean of Nobles, that we appreciate just what a massive part Nobles has played in who we are today.

I want to conclude with a few more thank yous. I want to thank admissions for rejecting me the first time I applied to Nobles for the class of 2016. Wow, did I dodge a bullet. While it was hard to deal with back then as I ended up repeating a grade, I couldn’t have landed amongst a more spectacular group of people. And thank you to the class of 2017 for making Nobles home, and for giving me an experience that feels so heartbreaking to leave behind. We thought we would we would be in high school forever, I can say with full confidence that we made 17 count.

I hope all students learn the valuable lesson I did both while both writing this speech and surviving at Nobles: Do not restrict yourself to a predetermined label. Take advantage of everything Nobles has to offer, and allow Nobles to make an impression on you. If you ever find yourself struggling to fulfill a particular label or title, don’t settle for one. Explore Nobles and embrace each other. I promise you will not regret it. The class of 2017 certainly hasn’t.

I love you. Thank you.

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"Construction Zones" by Harry Sherman '17