Go out into the world and strive to do the best that we possibly can

When asked to write a speech for today, I was honestly at a loss. I mean how could I sufficiently describe an entire 4 years of experiences, friendships, laughs, tears, failures, and triumphs? As I have had the privilege of attending a few graduations and hearing the young women speak, I have realized two things: 1. I have some big shoes to fill, and 2. I can say pretty much anything and you guys probably won’t remember it anyways, so that has given me some comfort. Attending a Catholic high school has shaped my classmates and me in indescribable ways. There is something special about the Academy as a school that is able to teach the importance of independence, while also teaching interdependence; being thankful for what you have, while also always striving for something better. It has provided us with teachers who genuinely care and sincerely want us to succeed. It has been a place where our parents know, without a doubt, we will be prepared for our futures. I think I can speak for all of us, when I say thank you so much to all of our parents for giving us the gift of an Academy education for these past four years.

We have learned that the popular adage “failure is not an option” is an entirely false saying. Failure is an option; in fact, it is inevitable. The important matter is our reaction to failure. We can either wallow in it, or we can face it for what it really is: a lesson to be learned.

When we look back at our four years at Academy, we will see them as possibly the greatest years of our lives, a time during which we made the best memories with the best friends. For some of us, it might be easy to say that these last four years WERE the best years of our lives. But truthfully, I don’t think they were. These amazing years at the Academy have granted the gift of knowing that our best years, our truly paramount years, are ahead. The Academy has given us a future that is bright and full of unlimited possibilities. My sister frequently likes to joke that she “peaked in high school,” and this is funny because, while she may believe it sometimes, it is because of her time at the Academy that she did not in fact “peak in high school.” It is because of her time spent here and now our time spent here, that we are moving forward with the secure realization that our best days are in fact ahead of us. We can see all of the amazing things that we are going to achieve and strive to be, because of our experiences and the lessons we have learned here. If you don’t believe me, I’ll bring you back to our Junior College Day. I think we can all agree that seeing Natalie Smith rap the entire lyrics to “Super Bass” in the Brady Center showed us the great things she will do in the future; needless to say, her best years as a renowned vocalist are clearly ahead.

Many college essay topics always seemed to be along the lines of “share with us a lesson that you have learned or explain some quote that you strive to live by.” And to this, the response I would always give was the importance of resiliency and the lesson of failure. Throughout our time here, the Academy has often taught all of us what it meant to give our full effort and still not reap the rewards we thought we “deserved.” In the beginning, we would feel disappointed, both in ourselves and what we thought were our failures. Yet, the Academy has taught us the value of being proud of when we do succeed; it has taught us that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we will fail. We learned that we need to acknowledge when we fail, then regroup and try again. We have learned that the popular adage “failure is not an option” is an entirely false saying. Failure is an option; in fact, it is inevitable. The important matter is our reaction to failure. We can either wallow in it, or we can face it for what it really is: a lesson to be learned. Success necessitates failure because if you are not failing, you are not succeeding; you are not perfect; you are playing it safe. This unique message taught at the Academy is what encourages each of us to go out into the world and strive to do the best that we possibly can. It has shown us how to support and genuinely be there for one another. It can be seen in how each time, throughout this college admissions process, when someone was admitted into her dream school, she was met with cheers, sometimes tears, and genuine embraces and expressions of congratulations from all of her 98 classmates, friends, and not to be too cliché, sisters. We have been with each other as a constant support system for the past 4 years. We were there at Powder Puff to cheer our classmates on to victory in flag football, we were there to see the Inaugural Lacrosse team take the field, and we were there when our volleyball team made it to the state semi-finals for the first time in 17 years.

One of the biggest concerns we have all shared is what we are going to do next year when there are not constant bake sales making it socially acceptable to have eaten four brownies, two cookies, and a bagel before 8 am. As well as, what are we going to do when we can no longer buy a T-shirt for quite literally anything that we are doing? Our class has been through many ups and downs, but I think that, especially this year, we have demonstrated what sisterhood truly means and the true significance of the bonds that we make here as a family at the Academy. “To be, rather than to seem” is our school motto, and I truly believe that it is something that we all, even subconsciously, try to uphold in our daily lives. As a class, we are real, we are genuine, and as a family of 99 sisters, we are the true meaning of sincerity and authenticity. We have come together as a class to turn the school into a military academy and almost, almost convince everyone that prank day was cancelled; we have made sure along the way to directly tell our friends and sisters just how important they are to us, even making a point at our last retreat to have an “honesty circle” which I am not going to explain now, but I can rest assured that the 98 sisters I stand before know exactly what I am talking about. We worked together as a class and as a family throughout our past 4 years here to challenge ourselves, our choices, and our beliefs, with the knowledge that we have an entire class as a support system behind us; we tackled tough questions such as do animals, including our beloved pets, go to heaven? And should we make a chemistry class version of the Harlem Shake? The answer to both of those questions, at least in our minds, was a clear yes. In all seriousness, words cannot describe how honored I am to have had the privilege to speak about the past 4 years at Academy and about 98 of the most talented, kind, and altogether inspiring individuals I get to call my sisters tonight. Among us we have incredible young women who can sing, dance, and play a multitude of instruments; we have talented fashion designers and filmmakers; members of All-State Teams, record breakers, and recurrent district champions; I have a class of 99 amazing young women. I cannot wait to see what we do in the future. Congratulations Class of 2015, we did it.