Given by Bou Lee '12
I’ll be frank. I am not that sentimental. Two years ago, a senior gave a Moment of Silence about this one tree that she saw every morning on her way to the dining hall. She described the tree’s beauty and how meaningful that scenery was to her NMH life. Listening to her Moment of Silence, I couldn’t really relate.
I could not relate because what that student got from NMH was different from what I got from this place, as what each of you has derived from your experiences here is distinct from the ones of the person sitting next to you. On the other hand, that does not mean we haven’t taken in all the overarching, clichéd, and sometimes sentimental words from our various Student Life Curriculum sessions, Moment of Silence addresses, and Founder’s Day speeches.
Basically, there is no moral that I can say to you tonight that you don’t already know. Each of us has a different story here. Some of us have found many ups here. Some have found more downs than ups, and some are just in the middle. But because my GPA was pretty high, I guess I’m here to tell you a little something of my time here.
After just one year here, community members say that NMH has changed them. Well, after attending this school for four years, I have found there are many ways that I have not changed. I’m still 5’7”. I haven’t gone through any extreme plastic surgery. I’m still impatient, obsessive, and at times, immature. But besides my physical and internal attributes, I have habits that didn’t really change.
The first of which was my love of playing my GameBoy SP. Before coming to NMH, I envisioned a student body in which every single student took ridiculously hard courses. Every student was on high honors. Every student was athletic. Nobody would have time to play a GameBoy, or even consider playing such a kiddy form of entertainment. Well, after arriving here, I realized immediately that the former part of my assumption was obviously wrong. The second part seemed real until sophomore year when I saw Wilson Josephson playing his blue GameBoy SP in the dining hall. To make it even better, he was playing Pokémon! I don’t remember if it was Ruby or Sapphire, but it was the Hoenn region, which was all that mattered to me. Wilson, who was an amazing swimmer, chosen to be a junior Student Leader for the next year, and extremely smart, playing a GameBoy? From that moment on, I proudly wielded my GameBoy. I play it before I go to bed. I play it on busses to away games. I play it sometimes before class until my teacher tells me to turn it off. As a high school senior who is about to graduate, am I any less intellectual or mature than any other member of the class because of my love for my GameBoy? I hope not, and I do not feel that way. Even adults here know how to have fun. Peter Weis and I once had a long conversation about Pokémon Emerald and which Pokémon was the best. I don’t remember what Mr. Weis’ favorite is, but it doesn’t really matter because my favorite is Charizard.
The second habit that I could not quit was my love for doing schoolwork. I know, shocker, right? Well, being up here was not my plan freshman year; I heard other students talk about those Asian kids who live in the library, never sleep, and don’t play any sports. Seriously, the horror. I could not understand how that was possible, or why these kids would even think of studying over watching a movie or hanging out with friends. Well…so here we are tonight. But actually, I do love schoolwork. So, with the help of my classmate Gabriella Lee, we decided to break the stereotype by approaching studying in a more sociable manner. We formed a club sophomore year, and it has been extremely successful. We meet several times a month; sometimes we don’t meet for months at a time. Our meetings are held in the dining hall, usually on a Sunday afternoon, and actually, we are the only members. It’s called the Loner Club. Our meeting consists of us sitting at different tables doing our homework. Sometimes, if we want to take a risk, we’ll sit together. But that takes a lot of effort.
I hope you are seeing a pattern here. Well, the final habit was my loudness. I inherited my father’s annoyingly loud voice. I am the person that turns heads in the restaurant because my conversation is not only being shared with the person I’m sitting with but also with the whole restaurant.
So I decided what any person would decide to do. I vowed to use my loudness only for good and never for evil. That meant speaking loudly for the debate team, speaking even louder for Mr. Block (because I know those years since Moody has hired him have definitely done something to his ears), and cheering loudly at volleyball games. That doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped running into trouble. Just a couple weeks ago, before Econ class started, Kyra Toomre asked me to not be loud for just once. That day was truly a challenge. Whenever Drew Inzer spit out corny econ jokes, or Justin Pau lost to me in Scramble with Friends, or when Avery asked the most random questions, I just wanted to burst out laughing. But I controlled myself. But other times, I let myself be annoyingly loud.
Some would say that these habits are trivial ones to have my four years here. But if there’s one thing I learned in DK’s AP lit class, is that we should treat the trivial things seriously and the serious things trivial. Being able to continue these “trivial” habits have made my time here more enjoyable.
On the other hand, college is serious, or people say it is. You know, I thought that my whole life was for college, that that one day when decisions came out, dinosaurs would rise from the dead, Cutler was going to burn down, and that Mr. Block would give everyone A’s because the day was going to be so revolutionary to my life. But then the day came. Yes, I was happy, and yes I was relieved; I even cried. But moments after I was so disappointed. I was disappointed that I had lived most of my life for those decisions. And now the day was over, and I hadn’t thought much of the future.
For the past two months, that made me think about what was truly important here; what were the things I previously believed were trivial that were now serious. The most important were the people. It’s sad how I’ve been here for four years with almost 100 of you, and yet I don’t really know all of you. Sure, I know your names, and almost creepily, I still remember who roomed with who freshman year, even for the guys. There are people who I waved off as acquaintances until they became my close friends only this year. There are also faculty that I didn’t get to know better until this year. For example: sophomore year during HUM II, Charlie Malcolm thought it would be great to dance on top of the tables while a tour was walking by. I could only think that it was going to be a very long semester. And it was. But then I had the pleasure of taking two of his classes senior year, and again, they were long, but in a good way. I had the pleasure of getting to know a teacher so much more in depth than I ever could before.
To be honest, I still have yet to be inspired by one image on this campus. Like I said, I’m not that sentimental. Maybe I’ll tear up a bit during graduation. I can’t say for sure what will happen in the future. But looking at the past, I can say that my time here has been worth it. Worth it. That’s another clichéd phrase thrown around as we near graduation. But in reality, this place has been worth it for many. You can only leave this place with the things that have been an integral part of you. If you disliked this place, you better get over it because it took up a four-year chunk of your life. Even for the non four-year seniors, you have all spent at least one school year here. A year is a long time. There’s no point in stubbornly holding onto only the negative memories.
The next couple days will be our last together all as a class. That sounds pretty heavy. But seriously, my biggest regret would have been my attitude while I was here. It was not my activities. It wasn’t even that I gave up socializing sometimes in order to do homework. It was that I didn’t open enough to people here. Let’s just say I’ve avoided people I disliked or feared. Consequently, I realized that I avoided the very people that are very important to me now. But I can go only from the present, from this very moment, and reach out to them in these last couple days, as maybe some of you will do as well.
Finally, I want to take this time to say I’m really thankful to have been a part of the class of 2012. Some people say lines like that just because it’s appropriate for the end of a salutatorian speech, but those of you who know me know that I don’t say anything unless I truly meant it.
And if you thought what I said tonight was pretty trivial, I hope it becomes serious to you in the future.