Upper School students gathered in Chapel on May 16 to hear words of wisdom shared by members of the class of ’23. Before entering the building, the seniors rang the bell at the Belltower 23 times.
After the welcome from Interim Head Chaplain Vj Sathyaraj, Zaira H. ’23 read the land acknowledgement.
Student Body President Arun S. ’23 was the first senior to share his reflections. Among his remarks, he said:
“One of the most significant things that I learned at OES is this: if you have something you need to say, say it loudly and proudly for the wonderful person that you are. It’s terrifying, just like public speaking. But just like the world needs to hear our voice as a generation on pressing issues, it needs to hear each and every single one of your amazing voices saying what you need to say. And saying what you need to say, for yourself—whether it’s to try to resolve a disagreement with someone, or to speak out against an injustice, or to disagree with someone, or whatever—might just change your life.”
Sam S. ’23 and Claire J. ’23 read from a collection of senior wisdom. Among the advice their classmates gave was, “Take advantage of everything that OES has to offer. Go to the events. Meet with your teachers when they offer. You get as much out of the school as you put in.”
Naphat S. ’23 shared about being nervous when he first came to OES from Thailand, but that he made friends and especially found a place of belonging in the rocketeering club. He encouraged classmates to “Seize the moment and do the things you are afraid to do.”
Hollis H. ’23 spoke about her longtime connection to OES through her older siblings, and taking the time to get to know people: “Everyone at OES has a story. What matters most here are the connections. Take five minutes to ask someone’s name.”
Two longtime faculty members also shared their words of wisdom with the group.
Wisdom from Upper School Science Teacher Bettina Gregg ’92 included:
- “Always stand up for what you believe in, even if it is uncomfortable. It took me over 40 years to figure that one out, and I am still not very good at it. Don't wait as long as I did!”
- “Make sure you always have someone you trust wholeheartedly. Identify that person who you can call at 2 o'clock in the morning, knowing they won't be upset with you. Carry that information in your back pocket!”
- “Lift up the people around you: celebrate their accomplishments, and be there for them when they need you. Surround yourself with people who will do the same for you.”
Upper School Science Teacher Rob Orr shared, in part:
- “You each are a mosaic of skills, interests, backgrounds, experiences, and goals. Revel in your uniqueness and enjoy adding to your resume.”
- “Take advantage of opportunities to reinvent yourself. You are a fish out of water and each new pond offers the chance to revise who you are and how you act.”
- “Don’t let social media, peer pressure, or the need to belong make you into someone you’d rather not be.”
- “Don’t fake competence; you’ll be found out. Ask for directions, help. and suggestions with curiosity and humility—let other people be helpful heroes to you sometimes.”
- “You are surrounded by competent adults who are interested in your success in whatever way that reveals itself. Teachers (and parents) are almost universally on your side—embrace this, it won’t always be the case in your life.”
In addition to the student reflections, Izzy P. ’23 read a poem, and everyone sang the selected senior song, “Leaving on Jet Plane.” The students also sang “Wisdom,” which was composed by former music teacher Adam Steele and will be sung at graduation.
The commencement ceremony will be held at Trinity Cathedral on Friday, June 16, 2023 from 7-9 p.m.