Brianne Kendall, 2017 St. Cecilia Girl: Graduation Speech
16 years ago, little two-year-old me toddled through the St. Cecilia doors for the first time. My life, as the seniors will attest to, has always involved St. Cecilia, whether it was dancing at prom with Sebastian Jimenez when we were five, going to every single Oktoberfest and Gherst Haus dinner with the German Latin Club, or attending every theatre performance, from Grease to 42 Street.
For me, there were a lot of firsts on the Dominican Campus. When I was two, I picked my first favorite teacher, Dr. Collins, or as I called him, Mr. Funny Guy. I made my first friend, Emily Vick, in kindergarten. I made my first important life decision in eighth grade when I enrolled at St. Cecilia. I danced, acted, and sang on stage for the first time when I played a horse and a waiter in Hello Dolly my freshman year. And now, today, I will be leaving this place for the first time, and I will have to prepare myself for new “firsts” that are soon headed my way.
Next year will be the first time in 13 years I will not see my friends from Overbrook every day, the first time I won’t see my mom in the hallway, and the first time in 16 years that my first day of school won’t include driving through those front gates.
There will be a lot of firsts for all of us next year. It will be the first time in four years that we do not have to wear a uniform, that there won’t be Mr. Horn to high five us in the hallways, that we will be going to class with boys, that we will have to brush our hair and look semi-presentable. It will also be the first time in four years that we will not see each other every day.
C.S Lewis says, “It’s funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” That is how I would explain the St. Cecilia experience.
Four years ago, over 70 girls from all over the Nashville area and beyond came together to create the class of 2017. We met at Becca Link’s pool party. We bonded at Freshman Overnight. We raced through freshman year as the Fast Lane freshman and, in general, as very confused freshman. We struggled through sophomore year, and I bet Frau is rolling her eyes right now because she knows we are talking about AP Euro. We trekked though junior year as we rejoiced at being upperclassmen, organized the best prom ever, and received our gorgeous class rings. And now, we are here. A large part of this is due to our teachers. Thank you, teachers, for the past four years of guidance and wisdom; because of your attention to detail and your love of learning, the senior class not only accumulated the largest sum of scholarship money at $16.2 million dollars, but we also grew to love and appreciate the gift of education. A special thank you goes to Dr. Collins, for his tireless dedication to the St. Cecilia community, as seen in his 21 years of teaching. St. Cecilia will be a different place without you, but we are excited to see the plans God has for you. The class of 2017 thanks you for daily poems, your love of Hamlet, and your words of wisdom. Personally, I would like to thank you for the past 16 years of friendship.
Ladies, we survived senior year! We are one of the biggest graduating classes in recent years, the first class to put on a self-directed senior showcase “just because”, the last group to be taught by Dr. Collins before he retires, and the only people in this school who remember wearing blue oxfords, red polos, and green sweaters.
C.S Lewis is right: nothing has changed, but everything is different now. You are the same sisters I came to know and love four years ago and you will continue to be the girls that I trust and care about in years to come. Class of 2017, we are all St. Cecilia girls, and I’m not trying to be cheesy. A St. Cecilia girl is constantly trying to balance her involvement in many activities, both in and out of school. She has a kind heart because she loves service. She pursues her passions. She lives according to God’s will. She is not afraid to be herself. And she teaches younger girls to be women of integrity, because a St. Cecilia girl also knows when it is her time to move on.
Juniors, we pass the torch to you now. As you prepare to lead the school next year, we get ready to start the cycle all over again as freshmen. Do not take senior year for granted. Cherish every moment, because before you know it, you will be standing up here too, wondering “Where did all the time go?” Thank your parents for their dedication to your education, because it is a blessing to be here. Thank God for the friends you make, the talents you acquire, and the memories that will last a lifetime. Love this place. Love the people here, because these girls are your sisters and you will never be in the same place at the same time with all of them ever again.
My St. Cecilia girls, I love you. You are beautiful, you are smart, and you are so ready for this next step in your life. And remember, “Bonne Chance means good luck in French!”
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