Inspired and inspiring: 2009 Graduation words

Sasha Pansovoy

This past Sunday, June 7th, hundreds of students, teachers, friends, and family gathered in the stands and on the turf field to celebrate the the class of 2009’s graduation. Along with Magda Buczek, class president, graduating seniors James Ivker, Attrace Chang (valedictorian), and Frederique Verly (salutatorian) stood up to share their final thoughts and memories with their classmates and the rest of the community.

James Ivker:

I’m no philosopher; I’m just any other goofy kid who was given a chance to talk to a group of pretty special people on a very important day. So, I figure I should just say what I feel and hope that you all appreciate what I’m feeling.

Throughout the years I’ve been lucky enough to go to see the Celtics, Redsox and Patriots play live. And every time I go to Fenway, the Garden or Gillette I am always amazed by those guys who yell about how the apocalypse is coming. You all know who I’m talking about, those guys yelling… “ The end is near, the end is near,” handing out flyers. The guys who look and smell like they haven’t taken a shower in over a year and cause parents chest to tighten as they hurry to move their children along.

You know as crazy as those guys sound, as pessimistic as they may be, with the way everyone is talking I am starting to find some meaning in what they say. I mean what is going to come next…

It’s surreal. I mean for the past thirteen years we have been on a fastrack to this single moment. For the past thirteen years we have gotten up, taken a shower and hopped into that bus or car that took us to school. For the past thirteen years we have sat through many great classes and a fair share of not so great classes. For the past thirteen years we have watched our peers smile, cry and everything in between. And now, as we sit and take in this moment, after these thirteen years, I can’t help but think…. Where are we going?

All the fear… all the excitement… all the happiness that I am feeling and I hope many of my peers are feeling right now is rooted in that oohh so familiar question, “What do you want to do with your life?”

You know every time I’m asked what I want to do with my life I want to stare at the person who has asked me and say I am eighteen, I hopefully have very very many years of life to live and I’m not even sure what I want to do tonight, let alone the rest of my life. But I don’t, I normally respond with the polite; yet very annoying “ I really have no idea.”

I’m sure there are some peers of mine who do have an idea and are completely sure of what they want to do, in terms of profession. I’m sure in the sea of extremely good looking, intelligent members of 2009 there are future doctors, teachers, politicians, wall-street bankers and maybe even a pastor or two (to pray for the politicians and wall-street bankers)… There definitely are some very talented people among us, who probably have a good idea of what profession they intend to pursue. However, I’m sure that nobody here is sure of what we REALLY want to do with our lives.

We can’t possibly know what we want to do with our lives… but we can know what we should do:

We should never, never, never forget the people that have helped us get to where we are today;

We should always remember to give much more than we take;

We should be honest, especially with ourselves;

We should appreciate everything we are given… whether it be the last bite of a friend’s sandwich or a college education;

We should always be “insubordinate” to the administration because everyone loves a BBQ day as a punishment

(Just kidding, Mr.Tutwiler’s over there — like, you don’t have your diploma yet… insubordination is badddd… but the BBQ was fun);

We should never take anything for granted;

And most of all….

We should do things because we love them and not because we are expected to do them.

We are a privileged group, not because we all have enormous houses or fancy cars but because people care about us. The level of support in this town and especially in this school is incredible. As a group of human beings we have a duty to not forget what we have been given. We’re all ready… We have the tools and the ability to do great things. The real question is, are we ready to take those tools and do something special.

You know at this point I thought I would probably shed some tears. But as I stand here in front of all of you, as every emotion humanly possible is overtaking my brain, I don’t think I need to. Not because I’m too manly or am afraid to show my emotions… trust me I cry my eyes out every time I watch Bambi… That Poor little deer… I am not crying because every time my eyes start to water and I feel that tingly feeling in my stomach, I think of a memory from throughout my time here and all the sadness that I previously felt because my time in Wayland is over, is replaced. It is replaced by a feeling of happiness, a feeling of happiness that comes from knowing that all of these memories did happen. As I start to feel sad:
I remember…
I remember the “Dittie Kitties,” a group of feline impersonating elementary school females whose exceptionally well-constructed “Dittie Kittie Land” shelter in the woods was destroyed by a certain group of rowdy elementary school boys. To all the “Dittie Kitties” out there I’m sorry, I might have been a little jealous..

I remember the case of the exploding ketchup packets when a group of curious Claypit Hill Students wanted to see what would happen if you twisted a ketchup packet enough times. And these same students found out that you ended up with a long stay in the Principal’s office and a very messy cafeteria.

I remember the first time I learned how to execute the foxtrot cleanly at ball room dancing. And I remember how angry and jealous I was everytime a Weston kid won the bag of jolly ranchers.

I remember all of the midnight food runs every Friday and Saturday night. I hope McDonald’s is receiving stimulus money because their Massachusetts profits will be taking a serious hit next year.

I remember all of the times that Officer Fitzgerald and the Wayland Police Department have kept us safe and on our toes… literally. Thanks guys.

I remember watching a senior class pull together an extremely well done performance of a senior show that didn’t exist three days before its first showing. And that weekend, it wasn’t exactly too shabby.

I remember watching an awkward mass of scared, pre-pubsecent sixth grade students transform into a succesful, cohesive group of talented young men and women. 09’ we truly have come a long way.

These memories, good and bad will be with all of us for our entire lives and will be with us whenever we get that tingly feeling in our stomach and our eyes start to water. So don’t cry 09’, be happy that we all have so many collective memories that will stick with us our entire lives.

Standing in front of all of you, looking at each and every one of my classmates, my friends, I am happy to say that if we as a class forget about what we were told “success” is and do what we love and do it well, the future looks pretty solid. Unfortunately for the guy outside of Fenway waving his flyer, the end is not near… in fact. This is only the beginning.

We did it 09’ Congratulations.

Frederique Verly:

Good afternoon.

As I took my last walk through the high school on Thursday afternoon, desperately trying to obtain all the signatures needed on my sign-out sheet, I couldn’t help but remember little tid-bits from my four years in high school. As I walked across the courtyard, I had a flashback to the four harsh winters that covered the walkways with black ice. Yes, I was that unsuspecting freshman who slipped on the ice…twice. Even this past year, although I was well aware of the perils of the ice, I had quite an embarrassing spill. I may have been mortified all three times, but now I look on it and smile knowing that I experienced the classic Wayland sport: ice gliding.

I continued my tour of the school, and walked through the language building, the building in which I, a language fanatic, spent most of my time. As I sauntered by L1, I reminisced about the hours and hours I spent in that room, whether I was sitting through, let’s face it, a quite boring freshman study hall or whether I was enduring the anxiety and mental strain that accompany any AP test. Although many complained about the old, creaking chairs and draftiness of L1, I always found that room rather comforting…I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the fact that every other student in Wayland High School’s history also had to experience the landmark that is L1.
I then strolled past L12, where I peeked in on Mr. D.’s class. As I watch a quite animated Mr. D. teach his students, I remembered all my favorite Mr. D. catch-phrases: “yes, and no”, “ultimately irrelevant”, “how’s it going?”, and my favorite “the bitter meter.” Having been taught by Mr. D. for three years, these phrases are all too familiar.

Most of all, on my tour I thought about how much I have loved going to Wayland High School these last four years. I have never met a more supportive and inspiring group of people than the faculty, administrators, staff, and students that make up the Wayland High School community. They all taught me so much and truly brought out the best in me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Of course in school I learned the classic high school subjects of calculus and U.S. history, but I also learned a hodgepodge of other random lessons along the way. For example, I discovered that you ought to be productive when you procrastinate. I think we can all admit that procrastination is pretty much unavoidable, and there’s no way we can change that. What we can do, however, is find another task to complete while we procrastinate. In my case, I always turned to baking.

Just the other day one of my friends told me, “I remember there were so many times when you had a paper due or a big test the next day, and I would ask you what you were doing, and you would say rather calmly, ‘I’m baking muffins.’”

In fact, while writing this speech I made chocolate pudding, banana bread, and several gourmet smoothies. You cannot work constantly, so it’s okay to occasionally take a break, take a few steps back, and clear your mind in a fruitful manner. Although throughout high school I regularly put off my necessary work for an hour or two, during that time I was also filling my home and my classrooms with delicious baked goods, which brings me to my next lesson:

I have learned that a little something sweet, both literal and figurative, makes even the gloomiest day brighten up. During third quarter, my AP chemistry class and I suffered through a horrendously difficult quarter test. We left the room in utter bewilderment of the catastrophe that had just taken place. Luckily, my dear friend had made cookies for us to eat after the test. A few of us sat in the parking lot together munching on those cookies for half an hour…and then almost magically, we were cured of our post-test unease and disappointment. As the chocolate chips melted on our tongues, our cares melted away. Although the sweet tingle of sugar helped relieve our worries, we were also comforted knowing that no matter what, we had such a thoughtful friend who loved us enough to spend time baking for us. Her infinite kindness proved that sweetness in every sense of the word can heal the most painful of days.

Yet perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that we must follow our interests and grab any opportunity that presents itself. Horace got it right: “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.” Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow. That is not to say that we should be pessimistic about what tomorrow may bring, but rather Horace is telling us that we have no idea what could happen tomorrow. An opportunity existing today may be gone tomorrow.

Lest we miss our chance and regret it later, we must take the initiative to go out in the world, pursue our desires, and jump at any chance we get. So Class of 2009, promise me you will not hold back. Live in the present. Do what you want to do, not necessarily what you think you should do. Find your passion in life and hold onto it.

Finally, to the Class of 2009, you never cease to amaze me. Whether it’s Alison von Rohr’s hypnotizing belly dancing or Connor McNeil’s impressive rendition of “the real slim shady,” your many and diverse talents always fill me with awe. I can sincerely say, without a doubt, that you will all go on to accomplish incredible things in life. I know that in the next twenty or thirty years I will read about your successes in the newspapers, or I will watch you speaking or acting on TV. Class of 2009, you have made high school such a wonderful experience for me. I wish you nothing but the best of luck on your future endeavors, but honestly, you don’t need luck.

Combined Speech:

Att: You know, Fred, I completely agree with you.
Fred: Oh, look, this is Attrace Chang, our Valedictorian. What are you doing here? It’s still my speech!
TUT: Attrace, what are you doing? I haven’t introduced you yet!
Att: Oh, you’re right. I’m sorry. I should leave. [starts to walk away]
Fred: No, wait, come back! To the audience, some of you may not know, but Attrace and I are in fact the best of friends.
Att: You see, usually the Salutatorian and Valedictorian are academic adversaries, but Frederique and I have strived to never let any kind of competition get in the way of our friendship. We have realized that sometimes, the seeds of potential rivalry blossom into the strongest friendships.
Fred: What’s the kind of boat that never sinks?
Att: A friend-ship!
Fred: I know, it’s funny, right?
Att: Anyway, as you were saying before, Fred, the Wayland class of 2009 really is brilliant.
Fred: Tru dat!
Att: Double tru!
Fred: But yet, even though we have so many excellent students at the top of the class, our class has always fostered a healthy amount of competition, and we have always been more than willing to share notes…
Att: …study with each other…
Fred: …brainstorm together…
Att: … and just overall support our peers whenever we were down or stressed. We wanted to recognize that even though Fred and I are the ones up here today, there are so many intelligent and hardworking individuals in our grade.
Fred: But not only is our grade amazing for its academic and extracurricular pursuits, but also for the camaraderie we have nurtured over the years.
Att: Fred, I think I want to expand on this idea.
Fred: Okay, Attrace, take it away! I love you!
Att: I love you too, Frederique!

Attrace Chang:

Hi everyone… so, now it’s my turn.

Anyone who has ever seen me eat lunch knows I have this odd little habit called sandwich smashing. Before eating my daily sandwich, I am sure to first squish it flat. [Allow me to demonstrate – like this.] People always ask why I do it and I’ve never been able to give a satisfactory answer. I usually say either a very vague, “Oh, you know, it gets my anger out”, or I say that I like my bread flat; it simply tastes better. Well, I am about to let you in on the real reason.

Allow me to share a bit of my sandwich-making process. I start with two hearty slices of bread. Like the people of this school, bread serves as the foundation, without which there would be no sandwich at all. Without every one of you graduates, along with a healthy dose of Wayland’s educators and parents, there would be no class of 2009.

And then comes the meat. Add a slice of Walden Pond, a wedge of Cape Cod, a sliver of awkward middle school dances. Throw in a piece of Washington DC, and sprinkle on some chunks of myriad high school events – Six Flags, semi, prom, senior show, you name it. Of course, any sandwich would be incomplete without personality spread, from curious to catty to cool. And there you have your sandwich! But that still doesn’t explain why I punch it before eating, does it?

Think about this – you can lay out all the elements and assemble your sandwich, but what’s to keep all the filling from falling out when you pick it up to eat? Pounding my sandwich is the only sure way to guarantee it will not fall apart in the middle of my meal.

All right, so maybe I just completely made up that very poorly connected sandwich metaphor for the sake of my speech, but the thought process behind it remains true. In the same way that a pile of bread and meat does not constitute a sandwich, you also cannot throw together a bunch of people and events and call it a class. I measure my sandwich strength based on how well flattened it is. The strength of a class is defined by the bonds that are created. In what ways were we, the class of 2009, sculpted into form?

I don’t know about you, but in a few years, I probably won’t remember the geometry test I almost failed, or the book project on Brave New World I stayed up all night completing or even the lonely two demerits I received during my very last week of high school because I accidentally overslept.

No, rather, I’m going to think back and remember the time my friends and I decided to do something “wild”…or maybe more like slightly adventurous but neither dangerous nor destructive. I will remember falling off my bike on the way to Walden Pond, but having my entire TAG group wait for me. I’m going to remember the nights we stayed at Yearbook until past seven racing to get pages in, yet not actually doing any work for utter lack of motivation. Engraved in my mind will be the time I tripped over the Commons rug…as a senior. I will remember looking out on our entire grade as we grilled, ate, and reveled in our beautiful bike day “punishment”.

For the past four years, in the undercurrent of our homework and tests, we were also working to forge friendships. Stressing about our chemistry labs only brought us closer together in shared experience. In the context of a psychology class, we were invited to open up and share frankly about our thoughts and opinions. It was only through Senior Show that some of our…couples came to be. These bonds are the greatest fruits of our labor here at Wayland High. The friendships we have made will prove the lasting results of our four high school years.

The beautiful thing about a pounded sandwich is that once flattened, it can no longer be torn apart. We have been brought together as a class and nothing can undo that bond. You probably think it’s ironic that I’m the one saying this because I know you all think I spend my life studying, but it’s something I’ve come to realize in the past few weeks.

Yes, do your work and get it done, but also take the time to appreciate those around you. Going forward, the events and people that fill our sandwiches may change, but we cannot forget the friendships we’ve made here.
No matter where we end up, we will always have a family here in the WHS Class of 2009.

This past week, while sitting on our senior cruise, it occurred to me that this was one of the last times we would ever be together as a grade. There are some of you out there who I have never even had a real conversation with, but nevertheless, you have all made my life at Wayland just a little bit different.

Despite the many times I may have refused to give you a hug, or snapped at you to get your forms in, or whined at you incessantly in the midst of stress, please know, my class of 2009, that you, along with all the faculty, parents, siblings, best buddies, teachers and mentors our there, deserve my greatest thanks. I love you, and I will miss you all.

Thank you and God bless!