During the Graduation Farewell assembly on June 16, 2021, Ms. Lauang gave an inspirational farewell speech to the More students. She talks about the sitcom “Friends”, the past five years, the difficulties of dealing with a global pandemic, and what the future may hold.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it below or follow along with the provided transcript.
In the sixteenth episode of the fifth season of the popular sitcom “Friends”, one of the main characters, Ross, enlists the assistance of two other members of the ensemble, Rachel and Chandler. Their goal is simple, a rite of passage of true friendship: carry a sofa up a flight of stairs together and move it into Ross’s new apartment. Ross sketches it out, leads from the front, but inevitably, they encounter difficulties and, as they approach the second turn, Ross, with exasperation, encourages his friends to pivot. In fact, he says it a total of 6 times, each exclamation more annoying than the previous.
On behalf of all the teachers, I’d like to own very loudly and proudly that yes, we have been and will continue to be Ross until your car parks itself on our field for graduation and you walk across that stage. When we didn’t know what else to say, I think you’d be the first to claim that most of us responded with versions of: “you’ve got this, just go with it, we’re doing our best, read your emails, have you checked Classroom? look at the schedule.” To you, this might not have seemed good enough, but trust us, when we say that this is the best we could have done. Believe us when we say we understand better than anyone that there is no other time in life quite like the high school experience at STMC and that we wish you could have had more. We wish you could have, just one more time, felt the STMC things:
the energy of hundreds of people in a crowded gym or field screaming your name and then crushing pasta, lumpia and samosas after you won,
the rhythmic bounce of the awkward mosh pit during the Friday night dance while the staff are huddled by the black curtains avoiding eye contact with you
the shared butterflies before performing Danzon No. 2 and “Take Me Home” in front of Shoe, Lui, and your loved ones.
the tug of war at Greek Olympics versus the Grade 11’s
and the overnight retreats where, instead of a bear patrolling the grounds as it was this year, it’s Mr. Hall.
It is this sense of collective aliveness and tradition, which makes this school a place where people pursue excellence and where belonging, somewhere, somehow, and with someone, is the difference between getting a diploma and getting an education. So, we get it, we understand that you might have felt robbed of this …
It is quite easy to acknowledge this theft in those of you that who consistently understood what it took to be your best selves here for the four years of Grade 8 to Grade 11. Of course, you have felt lost and stuck since September. The world called on you to pivot and you weren’t quite ready to make the turn. You made mistakes. You lost momentum. You couldn’t quite figure it out. But there are also those of you whose entire journey here during these last five years wasn’t so easy: a nagging injury or pain, frequent visits to Mr. Steele’s office, the irritations surrounding comparisons over GPA’s, a lost friend, a lost family member. We see you too. You made it too.
It turns out that these experiences which force us to lean into discomfort, to understand the power of connection, to ask for help and to gain gratitude and perspective from shared adversity can also form the true core of what makes for a pretty worthwhile education.
In the most challenging of years, in addition to your other responsibilities, you have navigated one of the most difficult eras in history. Your saving grace is that having this community work together with your families to raise you is that resilience, hustle, service and social justice has been embedded in your spirit whether you like it or not. There is an environment here which encourages your empowerment and pushes you to learn how to positively transform our communities. STMC will continue to be home if you choose it but we are quite ready to accept you’re moving on.
At some point, you will be the one called to serve and to use your own privilege and power through an action great or small in the benefit of another away from our guidance and support. So, it is time to hold yourselves to a higher standard. Use your privilege to listen to the storytellers and to speak for those who can’t. Fight to be seen, occupy space and then make room so you can share it and reflect your light back to people who are walking in your footsteps.
If we are just an ever-developing mosaic of pieces from people who have loved us, I hope that the pieces, big or small, which represent STMC continue to remind you to create spaces where others feel like they belong, to pursue excellence in all endeavours, and, of course, to pivot, when things don’t go quite according to plan.
On behalf of the staff, we love you, we are so thankful for the legacy you have left behind and we are hopeful that you will be better than our best dreams for you.
Congratulations to the grad class of 2021.
And always remember: once a knight, always a knight.