I want to take a minute to appreciate everyone sitting in this room tonight, which is something I believe you don’t hear enough. I appreciate the steps you took to bettering your life by joining this community. I appreciate the hours you pored over your application in order to make it stand out. I appreciate your attendance at your interview and envision day. I appreciate the bravery it took to leave your old life behind and enter a new way of living. Above all, I appreciate your presence at this ceremony, which symbolizes one purpose: to fully commit yourself to adhering to the rules we live by and officially becoming a member of Northfield Mount Hermon School.
Now, it is your turn. I hope each and every one of you can appreciate the new life that you have so fortunately been granted entrance to. For all of you sitting here today, this is not the back-to-school experience that you are used to. All around you sit the brightest minds, best artists, and most competent athletes from multitudes of different backgrounds. The common denominator, between you and every other student at NMH, is the desire to succeed. Luckily, you are about to be matriculated into a society that values your success almost as much as you do. Appreciate the classes you attend, where you will be taught skills that will not only help you later in life while you work to further your education, but will also benefit you outside of your academic sphere.
In my English class last semester, we spent time learning how to create rhetorical ladders, also known as a selection of statements that are unarguable. For example, if my mom says that my top priority should be my schoolwork, and she also frequently reiterates the fact I need more sleep, then she must agree with me that I should be exempt from doing the dishes and cleaning my room on school nights. If knowing how to get your way isn't an important life skill, then I do not know what is.
The classes you take, the teams and groups you are apart of, and the work job hours you put in are all contributing factors in your journey to success, but the most integral component is the adults that surround you. Never for a minute forget to appreciate these wonderful people that think of you all as extended family. Appreciate the texts your advisor sends you on your birthday and the home-cooked meals (or road trips to Friendly’s) that they make you on special Wednesday afternoons. Appreciate the fact that your teachers honestly, truly, care about you, and not solely from an academic standpoint but also on a personal level. Appreciate your dorm staff, your work job supervisor, your coach, and anyone else that is beneficial to your experience here. Utilize their care and empathy, and never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. That is what they are there for. Most importantly, always thank them.
Above all, appreciate the change you see in yourself. This will happen whether you are here for the next four years or just the next nine months. When I entered as a new sophomore, my academic motivation was close to nonexistent. In fact, I don’t remember if I even wrote my summer reading essay. Every class, no matter what is was, I would stare at the clock and count the minutes until we were released. Then, one day in class as I went to check the clock, I realized that there was no place I would rather be than here. My eagerness to leave class diminished, and I was able to fully commit myself to my environment, which was a change induced by no one but myself. A change, whether academic or not, will occur in each and every one of you without a doubt. Do not be afraid to let it flourish and use it to your advantage.
Now, as you begin your new life, keep this in mind: the key to success at this unparalleled school is simple—appreciate all, and never let yourself believe for a second that Northfield Mount Hermon is anything less than extraordinary.
Let us be silent.