The best gift our teachers have given us was always demanding the best ...

The best gift our teachers have given us was always demanding the best …

2012 Salutatory Address

Good evening, Bishop Lynch, Mr. Raimo, Mrs. Jowanna, and the administrators, teachers, students, and families of the Academy. I have been pondering the secret behind an Academy education for some time now because I knew I wanted to find a college that was like Academy. I was convinced that if I found a university with a small enough student body then I would have recreated the magic formula that makes this place so uniquely wonderful. But I was wrong. As I procrastinated on my college decision, I realized that what makes AHN so special is that it is a school with a soul. As a Catholic institution, Academy wasn’t simply interested in funneling us into the wonderful colleges that we are about to attend, nor was it interested in leaving our minds unchallenged. Instead, Academy had a vision for us when we did not yet have one for ourselves.

None of our teachers ever lost sight of our true potential. For instance, I once received over four consecutive B minuses on one particular assignment in one particular class. I became convinced that injustice in America was real, and it was happening to me. But when I finally received an A, I realized that the best gift our teachers have given us was always demanding the best.

Nevertheless, Academy has never been about quizzing us to death or filling us with facts and figures.  It exists to educate the whole person and to form individuals who care about the world around us. Before I came here, I didn’t think about the environment. I thought that was dumb. But this school taught me that I was wrong.  Through service days, mission trips, and religion classes, I know that Academy opened all of our eyes to the need for caring about each other, to question what it really means to be women of faith, and to make the world around us a better place.

Of course, our parents are not to be forgotten as the most important people who always remember our true potential. Less than a week ago, I was toying over whether I should watch Khloe and Lamar or study for my penultimate exam. I was completely burned out and leaning towards the Kardashians when my mother took out my review book and started asking me questions about the unique properties of water because that’s the sort of thing that parents do-they believe in your ability to push yourself even when you think that you’ve got nothing more to give. From the time I was four years old, and my father challenged me not just to repeat the days of the week but to know how to spell them as well, my parents have challenged me as yours have been challenging you.

So, I know you’ll join me in thanking all our parents, our extended family of teachers and administrators, and especially the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for never abandoning a vision of excellence for us.

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The best gift our teachers have given us was always demanding the best …