2018 Senior Farewell: Sarah Johnson and Dean Taylor
Aaron: “This year the Senior Class has selected Dean Taylor and Sarah Johnson to give the Senior Farewell Speech.”
Dean and Sarah: Welcome to the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of two thousand eighteen.
Dean: We’ve been waiting 18 years to say that.
Sarah: We think it’s only fair to give you an idea of what the past 18 years of waiting have meant for our class. When we began our Fall and Spring trips in Kindergarten, 10 of the students on this stage embarked on that journey together. We embodied various animals in first grade, searched for gold on the playground in second grade, survived
Dean: (or didn’t)
Sarah: the westward expansion trail game in third grade, set things on fire during our electricity unit in fourth grade, and watched as our peers emigrated to the United States successfully
Dean: or were deported
Sarah: from Ellis Island in a thrilling remake of the 1920s immigration to the United States in 5th grade.
Dean: By our final elementary school trip, 14 of us were on the vans to Mesa Verde to explore the cliff dwellings inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans hundreds to thousands of years ago. Together, we had learned to cook, to ask thoughtful questions, and most importantly to tolerate each-other (Sarah and Dean look at each other). If that doesn’t sound like an established family to you, I don’t know what does.
Sarah: Let’s fast forward to 8th grade. 18 of us set off on the infamous Walkabout not truly knowing what lay ahead. To this day, one of my favorite things to do is sit around a table with my peers and reminisce about the adventures we had together in those two weeks.
Dean: To give you an idea of what we look back on and laugh about: we lost someone in the canyons of Utah and didn’t realize until it was her turn to help make dinner, one of us was stung by a scorpion as we read a book called “The Darwin Awards,” and one group ended up in the middle of the desert with a flat,
Sarah: well shredded,
Dean: tire after getting off of the river. But the most impressive thing we did on these excursions?
Sarah and Dean: [LOOK QUESTIONINGLY AT CLASS, LOOK BACK AT EACH OTHER] Survive.
Sarah: We learned to survive each other and ourselves. We learned to survive our failures and our successes. I am not sure we didn’t make it tougher on ourselves sometimes, but part of being at a small school is learning how to avoid getting caught up in the little things and seeing only the trees and not the forest.
Dean: Another part of being at CSS is learning how to ask questions. Lots of questions. About ourselves and about the world around us. We questioned not only what our place was in our community, but also why there are members of that community that can tell us what to do.
Sarah: How does our age impact our ability to make decisions? How can our young ideas support improvements made by those in charge? And let’s not forget that we also learned how to answer questions. Literally 1000s of them posed by Mr. White alone.
Dean: But we persevered. And we came out on the other side ready for the next step.
Sarah: The past four years have been an adventure in itself. The final 3 students on this stage joined our class, and we welcomed them and the 6 exchange students that joined us with open arms.
Dean: Not only were we excited to meet our new peers, but each student brought new ideas and contributions to our class. For example, Emma became our class mom and earned the nickname Madame President for her dedication to our class and school. Samantha brought her passion for basketball to our court, and became a leader for younger players. And Mauricio presented his experiences in El Salvador and passion for soccer to drive his teammates to improve and find success.
Sarah: And we can’t forget the exciting perspectives and personalities that international students contributed to our class along the way. We learned to appreciate cultures and ideas different than our own without leaving campus.
Dean: One facet of CSS that we have all come to appreciate is the incentive to try something new. Many of us likely wouldn’t have tried out for sports teams or auditioned for roles in theatre productions. But in the past 4 years, all of us have tried something new just for the sake of the experience.
Sarah: Dean did a pretty good job at concealing his marvellous poetic ability until this year when we got to hear his talent in Senior Seminar.
Dean: Sarah tried out advanced math, even though she claims that her dad, Mr. Greg Johnson, didn’t pass down the genius math genes.
Sarah: Jade dived into behind the scenes of local community theater.
Dean: Keyton decided to learn trumpet just for fun.
Sarah: Jake discovered one of his passions as a welder.
Dean: Annika is hungry to create masterpieces in the kitchen and has dedicated her path in that direction.
Sarah: Ali discovered that she could transform her artistic talent into a career in Graphic Design.
Dean: Alec has found in himself a devotion to tennis that has made him a team leader.
Sarah: I’m pretty sure Joe, once somewhat shy, has never missed a day checking in on how our days are going, showing his enthusiasm to help others.
Dean: Ian was elected as our Class President this year despite never having a class leadership position beforehand.
Sarah: And Celeste dedicated more than 200 hours of community service to the Humane Society this year alone, contributing to her long term dream of becoming a veterinarian.
Dean: Whether or not each student chooses to continue pursuing their newfound interests, these experiences have sparked our curiosity and encouraged our willingness to experiment with new and exciting topics.
Dean: When we asked what epitomized the personality of our class, students emphasized balance. We have cultivated an understanding of challenging ourselves academically and have fun while we’re at it. Our class did not shy away from becoming better writers, we embraced it. Our class does not shy away from much. We have grown into successful debaters and diverse thinkers. Much of the time in our class hallways was spent arguing about politics, sports, movies, classes, homework, colleges [SARAH TAP DEAN’S SHOULDER], philosophy…
Sarah: And yet, we prioritize creativity and laughter to maintain our collective sanity. For example, we bought a water feature for the senior hallway this year. It was a lovely Zen fountain that provided grounding for our area. We certainly created a relaxing study environment for students, but it also generated a good laugh as administrators, teachers, and younger students questioned why our space was beginning to look more and more like a living room. And sometimes instead of Zen, we like a little chaos. In fact, when we returned from ECS and discovered that our water feature had disappeared, we threatened anarchy.
Dean: Anarchy arrived just a month ago. This year’s Senior Prank included the comical duck chase of 2018, in which students and even some teachers carefully examined the El Pomar hallways in search of one duck of 500 placed throughout the building. We told them that this special duck had a 2018 on the bottom of it. There would be a prize. 8 hours of searching went by, and no one had found it. That duck did not exist.
Sarah: Today is the day that 20 young adults are released to roam freely into the world, into a workforce that will be entirely indifferent to its new workers.
Dean: At first. Over time, the 20 students that you see on this terrace today will start to exhibit a trait that society will learn to value above all others: autonomy.
Sarah: Why autonomy?
Dean: Because autonomy is more than merely knowing where you want to eat. Because the ability to simply know what to do and when to do it without being told is what allows an individual to truly excel. This transition from following to doing is what pushes someone to start leading. In this world, which so heavily emphasizes delegation and hesitation, autonomy allows a worker to truly stand out.
Sarah: CSS has been a sanctum for autonomy.
Dean: The curriculum of CSS is geared towards preparing its “students to think independently and to meet the challenges of a dynamic world.”
Sarah: What other school brings its students on seminars that expose them to unfamiliar cultures and unique experiences?
Dean: Very few. We’ve been encouraged to express our thoughts and opinions through writing our own version of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, to take a walk in the shoes of people around the world experiencing the destruction of World War II, and to communicate sides of historic debates we did not agree with.
Sarah: All in all, the ideas we have expressed are what have shaped our personalities.
Dean: Sitting before you are 20 students with distinct talents, interests, and ideas. Students that as individuals, are determined. Together, unstoppable.
Sarah: But what makes us unstoppable?
Dean: The class sitting before you today has interests that are as diverse as the characters of which it is comprised. We are Artists.
Sarah: The students of this class have learned how to marvelously express themselves on canvas, with clay, on stage, or in their brewed beverages. Adrienne is a stellar artist in both visual and auditory mediums, she excels on stage and in the art room.
Dean: Cole’s devotion to learning the art of brewing has taught him patience, craftsmanship, and a new approach to chemistry.
Sarah: Samantha dedicated her senior year to pursuing bigger roles in the theatre, landing a lead role in her final play as the Queen in Once Upon a Mattress.
Dean: We are Athletes.
Sarah: This class thrives in competitive atmospheres on the court, field, and course. We have sought to refine our characters through the grace of tennis, the grit of basketball, the endurance of cross country, the determination of soccer, and the intensity of volleyball. Connor’s athleticism enabled him to return to CSS as an active contributor on the soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams.
Dean: Lewis’s passion for soccer has shown through as he has transformed into a leader on the field and for his teammates as the elected captain of the team this year.
Sarah: Natalie has found balance between the court and in the classroom, serving as a captain for Varsity Basketball and Volleyball teams and being awarded All Area First Team as well as Academic All State in both sports.
Dean: We are Scholars.
Sarah: Through student-led class discussions, time on ECS’s, and lectures in every subject, we have helped each other study for exams, create astounding projects like our capstones, and explore questions sometimes even our teachers haven’t been able to answer. Julia has proven to be a Renaissance learner as she has taken a range of courses and engaged in Model UN, NHS, and Forum.
Dean: And the students of the class of 2018 will continue to set themselves apart from their future peers and coworkers. This is what will allow us to continue to be scholars, but also start teaching others by becoming leaders in our fields, philanthropists in our communities, and contributors to our country.
Sarah: Just as we have and will continue to be active contributors to our communities, these concepts could only have been made tangible with the support of our mentors, the experience of our teachers, and most importantly, the guidance of our parents.
Dean: It is these individuals who enable us to ask thought-provoking questions, to pursue our passions, and to contribute as productive citizens. In each of our collective 200 or so years here on campus, we have found more than 200 different reasons to strive to seek new experiences, not shy from them;
Sarah: to redefine ourselves, not isolate ourselves;
Dean: to forge our values thoughtfully, not accept the remarks of others at face value.
Sarah: To the future graduates: learn to appreciate those who work so hard to expose us to new concepts and visions everyday. In the words of Gail Tsukiyama, “Even if you walk the same road a hundred times, you’ll find something different each time” (210).
Dean: Although you walk the same hallways each and every day, take time to appreciate what you find in what you learn from your teachers, what you discover about your friends, and what you realize about yourself. Expect change. Thrive in it. Make something great out of it.
Sarah: We survived because we grew into a functional family.
Dean: We challenged each other.
Sarah: We laughed together.
Dean: We experienced the beginning of our lives together.
Sarah: Now, the new question we will answer, and the one with the biggest impact on our time in this life will be:
Sarah and Dean: what our place in the world will be.