We define the motto: “esse quam videri”

I’m grateful to Academy to speak to you all today. Not only for giving me this honor, but also for the nausea and fear that have made me lose some weight just in time for bikini season: a win-win situation. During these last four years, we’ve lost sleep, our ability to talk to boys, and the most painful blow of all, our iPads. Although now I can’t think of going anywhere else, when choosing a high school, I never wanted to go to Academy. It seemed like a lot of work. Thankfully, it wasn’t. It was a breeze. None of our teachers have even thought of assigning work that might keep us up at night. In all seriousness, Academy has been hard. Not just in the “will I ever finish this ABC’s of China project?” type of way, but in the way that has made us who we are as a class. We challenged our faith in every religion class, only to make it stronger. Our teachers pushed us to keep going even at our weakest moment. We encouraged each other to enjoy every moment and sometimes, just not to take the easy way out by transferring. We lost friends and family. All in all, we conquered adversity inside and outside of the classroom. Eventually, we’ve found that we can take anything on as Academy women. If things had been easy, we wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun or learned as much from each other and about ourselves. It’s been an adventure. From being the first class to dress in unison on spirit week to staying up to finish Mole Day projects to getting in touch with our roots on Wild Wednesday and going all out on prank day. We’ve won the state title in Poetry Out Loud, earned gold medals in swimming states, and broken multiple school records (not to mention the speakers in the lounge). This year in particular we’ve made memories, whether it was at Senior Retreat where we could only dream of reaching the crone stage or finishing five cookie cakes in the blink of an eye in the senior lounge.

Our motto is esse quam videri, to be rather than to seem, and if we’ve taken anything away from our time here at Academy, I think that’s it. As much as I want to resist the cliché of Academy being a family, it is. Not in the fake, perfect way but in the real way. The “you drive me crazy!”, “why are you doing this to me?”, “we’ve been together way too long!” family. We see each other at our ugliest, both emotionally and physically. We are the victims of each others’ mood swings and sleep deprivation and stress. We cry because of each other, for each other, and sometimes just with each other. A true bond comes from stripping away all the superfluous. It comes from boiling down to the essence of something. To get rid of the fear, the worry, all the things that cloud who we really are. That’s what we have at Academy. We see each other like no one else does or can and consequently, we have a bond like no other. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t drive each other so crazy or be completely ourselves with each other which is probably even crazier. Those same people that drive us so insane, we also would do anything for. Most of the time we don’t even have the energy to seem like anything other than exactly who we are. We define the motto esse quam videri. I think I speak for the class of 2014 when I say we couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Leaving AHN is a lot like leaving home. For many of us, it’s all we’ve known. As much as we’re sick of the routine and ready to leave, we’re scared to leave the place where we’re most comfortable. We’ve found home in the sparkles of Mrs. Chase, in the tardies given by Mrs. Henry, in the Brain Trust, in being called bunnies by Sister Ann. We’ve had the value of a Catholic education instilled through our faith and morals. Sister Mary Glavin’s voice inside our heads now all but guarantees that we won’t have any run-ins with the law. Most of all we’ve found home in our sisters: In quoting Mean Girls and She’s the Man, in staying up all night together, in complaining about work and teachers, stress, and boys, in spending every mundane yet magical moment together of our high school career.

Now I’m not here to tell you we have the best years of our lives ahead of us. Things aren’t going to be easy. We’re going to have challenges. We’re going to question who we are and what we believe and everything we know. We’re going to switch majors and careers and cities and friends. We’re going to want to quit and give up and run home and wish we had never left. But my advice to you is not to ignore the fears and challenges and the obstacles. Embrace them. Tackle them. Because if Academy has taught us anything, it’s that adversity is the greatest gift we can receive. It’s what has made us who we are at Academy and it is what will make us who we are in life. That lesson, my experiences at Academy, and my 99 sisters have made my time here priceless. I cannot say thank you enough to our parents for paying for and supporting our Catholic education at Academy, our teachers and mentors for pushing us every day, and Mr. Raimo, Mrs. Jowanna, and Mrs. Buono and everyone who makes Academy possible. It has been an honor to spend the last four years with you.