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Graduation Speech

Good morning, Father Philipson, Father Smith, Sister Marie Therese, Sister Mary Perpetua, Mom, Dad, faculty, family, friends, and all of you who will be here for this lengthy ceremony, trapped in formal decorum, and no doubt contemplating the quickest escape routes and nearest exits. I promise I will keep this brief.

When I sat down to write this speech, I sat there staring at the words “when I sat down to write this speech” for about twenty minutes before I actually wrote anything of substance. My mind was wandering and just thinking about my time at IHM, and I realized that I have spent the majority of my life attending this school. The idea of leaving this place, as much as it drove me crazy at times, is really scary. Since first grade, I have known exactly what my life would be like from September to June, and from this moment on—I won’t. My life won’t ever be the same, and even though I’m excited to get started on a new chapter, I really am going to miss this place. There were days here that felt like they would never end, but, when it’s all said and done, the past twelve years have really flown by. When you go through the years, while you are living them, every day feels like a mountain you have to climb. It feels like the hardest thing in the world to pry yourself out of bed every morning and go to school and not act like a zombie at the ungodly hour of 7:30 AM. (For an adolescent like me, “getting up early” is the act of being conscious before noon.)

My experience though, for the most part, has been a positive one, thanks to the people who made my life fun and exciting. My parents have supported me no matter what and helped me with so many things. They worked hard to give me the education that you can only get here, where children are taught well, trained to know the right and to do it to the best of their abilities. I will always be grateful that they forced me to get a good education. You really did know best, I guess.

My teachers have also been invaluable. I have been taught by many of the sisters, by assistant teachers, Br. Andre, and Professor Grinstead and I really couldn’t have done it without their help. Professor and Sister Mary Peter have had to put up with me the longest. They worked patiently with me for years, and they have tried to help me get over my lazy habits. They offered their time and attention in ways that I can never thank them enough for. All of the teachers here go not just the extra mile, but the extra ten to get us students to be successful, and we can never really repay them.

I also want to mention all the classmates I have had over the years. Thank you for helping to make the days feel shorter by just making the classroom a fun place to be. I can’t forget to thank my friends as well; they saved me from hours of unwanted studying time so that my cramming could be as hectic as possible. (Sometimes, the only way to focus is to just be distracted for a while.)

I’ve been dreading this moment for nearly the full dozen years I have attended this school. I have thought about standing on this stage and giving this speech, and I would break out in a cold sweat as I pondered the ordeal, but as I wrote the words I needed to say to those people who really deserve the credit for any success I have had, I felt strangely calm. It felt like I was doing something right—something that had to be done to pay them back for everything they have done for me. This is the last time I can call myself a student of IHM and I feel like the only way to leave this place is to give credit where credit is due. Thank you to everyone who supported me and to everyone who helped me to get right here. I will have to work even harder for the next few years as I continue my education at Mount Wachusett Community College, studying to be an Assistant Physical Therapist and I know I can be successful with your continued support and prayers. Thank you.

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