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2020 Senior Farewell: Autumn Crow

August 10, 2020

After holding 24 individual diploma conferment ceremonies in May for the Class of 2020, we were able to bring the collective class together on Saturday, August 8, 2020, for the 55th Commencement Exercises while following health and safety guidelines.

Nicole Goyette: This year, the Senior Class selected Autumn Crow to give the Senior Farewell Speech. Please welcome Autumn.

Autumn: Many of my peers know that I have a bad habit of forgetting to breathe when I give public speeches and then that makes it sound like I’m going to cry; however, with full confidence I can assure you that if that happens today, it is because I am actually going to cry. I have grown significantly attached to this school, these people, and so, despite the physical distance of the past few months, it is with great sorrow, yet immeasurable joy that I give this Senior Farewell today.

In 1986, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. While some of our more recent high school teachers may disagree with this and protest that we really have learned some important things like evaluating integrals and knowing the difference between metonymies and synecdoches, I will remind you of the lessons we learned so many years ago, way back in kindergarten. Even though we weren’t all together in kindergarten, everything we have learned those years ago have made us the people we are now.

Number one: ‘Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.’ While that is something we all learned in kindergarten, this lesson has resounded brilliantly as we’ve grown from blossoming children to the intelligent young men and women you see up here today. We have extended our arms and navigated the world around us, trying out and creating clubs, driving the theater program, learning new musical instruments and new sports, taking classes for fun, and rekindling old passions while discovering new ones. Our sense of adventure has been cultivated as we’ve been stretched far out of our comfort zones to explore the world around us. I’d say we’ve certainly done a bit of everything. I mean, at some points you can’t really say we had balanced lives when we spent 7 hours at school and then 7 hours at theater during production week with no time for anything else. Or when we missed entire school days for various sports competitions. But, nonetheless, our lives have been happy and full with every opportunity taken advantage of, and not a minute gone to waste, unless, of course, you count procrastination.

Number two: When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Yes, we have gone out into the world. Many of us travelled across the state for Colorado Expeditions in Children’s School, ventured to Utah together for Walkabout in 8th grade, and witnessed the solar eclipse in Wyoming four years ago. We’ve journeyed to places as near as jails in El Paso County and as far as India, Peru, Madagascar, and Spain on Experience-Centered Seminars. And thus far, we have followed the rules we learned in kindergarten. Until now, we’ve ventured far, but always with a friend’s hand within reach or a familiar face beside us. So, this is it. This is the moment when we must unclasp our hands and go our own separate ways off into the great wide world. But seriously. Watch out for traffic. Over 6,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents annually.

Number three: Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. In fact, if this were a normal year, some of you might just be here for the cookies on the quad afterwards. We’ve certainly had our share of cookies on the quadrangle at graduation, cookies (specifically Oreos) on ECSs like Tall Ships last year, and a variety of baked goods from those of us who have adopted the “class mom” role and provided cookies, brownies, and other deliciousness for senior hall. Regardless, warm cookies and cold milk are a thing from our childhood. I am going to choose to interpret Fulgham’s message like this: remember where you came from. This, in itself, brings me to another story.

In 1982, Larry Walters, your average American truck driver, used a number of weather balloons to fly himself in a lawn chair 15,000 feet in the air. There are a few things to be learned from this. One, never give up on your dreams. If you want to fly, fly. Lawnchair Larry certainly showed that to us. Additionally, as Fulghum says in his book, everyone has their own ground crew. While Larry’s ground crew were his friends who got him off the ground, ours have been our parents, our grandparents, our relatives, our friends, our teachers, and more. They have prepared us for this moment when we are going to take off. But ground crew, now I’m talking to you. One of the crucial jobs of the ground crew is to prepare their flyer for liftoff, but then let go and send their flyer off into the sky. You’ve done part of this; now’s the time to complete your final task as the ground crew: let us fly. But don’t worry, like Lawnchair Larry who came back to the ground (with quite a large fine), we too will return to where we started (hopefully free of most debts).

Number four: Clean up your own mess. Now some of us do not appear to have learned this lesson judging by the large amount of stuff relegated from senior hall to the designated “lost and found locker.” But, on the other hand, this gives us as a class the opportunity to show our skills at a different lesson we have mastered.

Number five: Share everything. We’ve shared our school supplies (to those who have mysteriously lost theirs), our snacks (sometimes unwillingly), our hardships, and our compassion. We’ve shared in each others’ excitement at college acceptances and improved calculus grades. We’ve also shared in our sorrow not just in college rejections, but in all the possible struggles in life through unfortunate sports accidents, particularly disappointing test grades, physical and mental illnesses, late theater nights, and everything in between. And of course, we have been able to supply each other with the most comforting words when lamenting the time spent crying over the college process: me too.

Number six: Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. You have watched before your very eyes as we have planted ourselves in the lives we live. We’ve stretched towards the sun as we have grown into whom you see today. Today, we step finally out into the full-fledged sunlight. I’m sure, in the future, you will wonder at our success, you will wonder at our profound impact on the world, you will wonder at the fantastic people we have become. Let me let you in on a secret: from the many, many mentors, role models, friends, family, helping-hands, and peers, we have learned everything we know, so it is thanks to you that we grow.

And finally, number seven: Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we. Now, I don’t want to end on a sullen note, so let me explain the power of this lesson. We will die. But today we live. Today we graduate. (For the second time.) Today we move on to the next stage of our lives. Right now, we are alive! We will take the life that courses in our veins and contribute it to the world! We came into life at a moment where the world was changing; in the aftermath of a horrific terrorist attack, we took our first breaths. And now, we again enter the world in the middle of a bizarre era. Ironically, that line in my speech used to say “at the end” instead of “in the middle” which is a true testament to the peculiarity of the current age. Regardless, our lives have been marked and punctuated by changing times. But with good confidence, I can say that the future that’s coming will be ours. It will be ours to change with powerful minds that sit upon our shoulders, and I know my classmates are equipped to bring about a positive change we need in our world today. Now is the time, for today we live. Let us make the most of it.

I’m reaching the end of my speech which means, we are getting ever closer to the moment when we will be re-handed our diplomas and high school will definitively draw to a close. But of course, something must end for something to begin.

So, thank you, parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, peers, mentors; those here, and watching from afar; and everyone else who has touched any one of these incredible lives.

Finally, I’d like to extend a thank you on behalf of my peers to all our kindergarten teachers, whether here at CSS, in another school, or in another state or country. Thank you for teaching us right from wrong and starting us on the monumental journey that has led us here.