Photo Credit: Sara Phillips
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Elizabeth Dolan, and I am honored to represent the Class of 2017 – these magnificent, magnificent girls – in delivering this address.
To begin, there are several people I need to thank.
To Mr. Raimo, thank you for always believing in us girls, for dedicating much of your life to our upbringing, our happiness, and our futures. I know that there is much you do that we will never see.
To Mrs. Nitchals and Mrs. Krukar, thank you. For many things truly, but most of all, for always giving us second chances and pushing us to grow into strong, independent women.
To the Sisters of the Holy Names, I hope you know how much my class admires you all. Your endless dedication, your constant service, your undying love for all of us: we won’t forget it. I especially won’t forget the wisdom of you, Sister Mary Glavin, in my religion class, or Sister Ann, how you helped us grow last year as principal. Sister Lisa, I think I can speak for all of my class in saying that we will all miss your terribly, that you are one of the most extraordinary people we know, both in your talents and in your humility, and that you have become perhaps the greatest role model of our lives. And to Sister Mary Patricia Plumb, I will miss our lunch dates, the times I came in crying to your office, and how you seemed to know the solution to all my problems in life. You truly are the glue that holds this school together.
And finally, I must say thank you to our teachers. You have transformed us, plain in simple. You have taught us the power in education, how it will unlock doors to our future, how it is the gasoline and spark all in one that only we can ignite to set this world on fire. You have shown us an endless well of passion, of love, of sincerity, of service in revealing the mysteries of this world to us. You have impacted us beyond what you can imagine. It has been an honor, a complete honor, to be your student.
And now, to my class. I have much to say, so much more that I want to talk about that can never possibly fit in to a seven-minute speech. To say that I am going to miss you is an understatement. You mean so much more to me than you will ever know; you have impacted me beyond what you can understand. I love you all so very much.
So, as I got to thinking about this speech about what I should say, I decided that I could not do it in a normal fashion. I just couldn’t. Perhaps some of you know where this is going, but to explain to the whole audience, I think it is best to quickly do a snapshot of my personality.
To those who don’t know me, there are three things that make up who I am:
I love Montana. I breathe Montana. I might as well live in Montana. I’m pretty sure every other word out of my mouth is me talking about Montana. You can ask my class, it can get pretty ridiculous.
I sing when I am stressed. Or when I am happy. Thus it goes to say, I sing all the time. It drives all of my teachers – and classmates – crazy during class, especially when I sing my answers to questions, but I personally love it. It keeps everything upbeat.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I am in love with poetry. I’m no fantastic poet, but there is absolutely nothing I would rather do more than talk about spoken word…
Because of this, when I sat down to write this speech, I just knew, there was no other way to do this than to write a poem.
So, let this be a gift to my class, a final poem for the girls that built me up into the person I am today. There is so much I wish I could say, and I hope this can at least touch on the spirit of you all and my hopes for you in the future.
If there is anything in this poem that you agree with, feel free to snap, clap, or remark in any way you’d like.
So, to my class of 2017, a poem.
When I started this poem,
I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to rhyme.
You see, I was worried about running out of time
and messing up the lines
and not being able to rewind
to fix my mistakes.
But then I thought, hey,
who cares what they say,
this poem is to you, my friends,
and the world you are about to climb
after you graduate today.
Because let me tell you what I see right now,
looking at you on this stage.
I see determination,
I see passion,
I see this burning, yearning rage
that has looked at this world and what it has spit out
We are the game-changers of our school,
yes, the class that broke the rules,
but also the ones that redefined cool,
the ones that took the string out of the spool
and created a web
that has led
our younger classmen to understand
that without compassion,
any hope for a brighter future is dead.
Oreos to the freshman,
a huge thank-you note for our new chieftain,
hours upon hours of service for those bereft, and
did I forget to mention,
that have become the intersection
between youthful minds
and community progression.
nothing if not solidarity,
sitting outside the senior lounge singing let it be,
passionate faces behind white morph suits
shouting out what we believe,
and if that doesn’t suit you,
at least try to understand its beauty.
Because, looking at all of you,
that in this world,
when people tell you no,
you won’t crash like a paper plane
in the rain,
saying this is insane,
but rise like a bird
that is already out of range
and fly far away
and recreate the game
that they told you, you shouldn’t play.
it isn’t always so dreamy,
it isn’t like the yellow-bricked walls that have taught you EsseQuam Videri,
and full of people who will make you doubt
the morals that used to come easy.
They will tell you,
you’re a woman,
you are a feminine function,
you’re an emotional wreck without the gumption
to take this job
and bring it to the top.
But those were just presumptions.
Because they don’t comprehend
the fire I see,
the burning inside of you
that won’t die out so easily,
and when they question your position,
doubt your intuition,
comment on your disposition
you won’t just sit back and listen,
you will breathe with fire
and tell them that being a woman in this world
is NOT an imposition.
It’s an edge,
an ability to empathize when no one else will,
its the characteristics that will fill
the gap between our society
and the ill will
that has brought it to a standstill.
when you get out there,
when you are scared,
and doubting why you even dared
to take the opportunity,
just remember one thing.
It isn’t some false chant we sing.
Together we are the crack in the glass
that will shatter this ceiling.
And no matter where you go,
no matter how far you fall,
no matter if you change the world,
change just one person,
or feel like you’ve done nothing at all,
you can come back home,
to this community
who have faith and love
in everything you do.
Who are proud of you simply being you,
who won’t forget how you’ve touched us
in just four years at this school.
And I promise you,
I will always have your back,
I will always pick up the slack
you might be leaving behind you,
and be your loudest fan
when you make your stand
when the world has decided to reject you.
And I hope,
that the rest of my class can make this promise too.
So keep dreaming,
keep being rather than seeming,
remember the morals our Catholic faith instilled,
remember how it filled
remember how it stilled you.
Remember to love people in the context of their concrete situations,
and when you get to life’s devastations
don’t give in to the temptations,
but step up
to your vocations.
And to you,
the proud parents,
the extended family,
the crazy siblings,
don’t reject our aberrant minds,
our need to toe the line,
our hunger for changing times.
Come with us on this climb.
We need your support,
we need your dime,
and I know
you wish you had more time
to protect us before we begin this journey,
to warn us of the dangers we might find.
But trust that we are ready,
that we are steady,
and that instead
we will fly.
We are ready to take this flight.
We are birds with our eyesight
set on the sky’s
of a new world dawning.
So sit back,
watch us leap,
watch us fall,
then watch us soar,
and be a testament to what you heard,
that on May 25th of our senior year,
110 girls graduated
and went on to change the world.