Newest Graduates Looking Back

The following is an excerpt from one of this year’s Graduation speeches, delivered by Madeleine Smith, Class of 2012. For the full text, as well as other speeches from that day, visit

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.

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