An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Yasmin Luthra, Class of 2017

Following is an excerpt from Student Government President Yasmin Luthra's speech at Commencement 2017.

When I look back on senior year, I recall a perpetual sense of closure. And though this year has been full of lasts and endings, three specific instances come to mind.

The first was way back in September, when we opened the letters we had written to our senior selves as wee freshmen. We laughed and cringed and cried at the goals, fears, and crushes we'd had back then. Many of us were grateful not to still be looking down the long, scary tunnel that was high school as a freshman.

The second was at the end of a canoeing trip down the Green River in Utah with the Quest class. After 17 days working our way down the river, living off only what we could load into our canoes and carry on our backs, we were picked up by a monstrous metal jet boat that roared back up to Moab in but two hours.

The third happened last night at baccalaureate, as I looked up from my seat at the flowers on the stage in St. Nicholas Hall. It's a Lakeside tradition for 8th graders to place a flower into a vase as they enter the Middle School gym at the start of their graduation, which was on Tuesday, and for these vases to be placed on stage at baccalaureate. I remember walking into the gym with Miles four years ago, placing my flower in a vase, and bursting with pride at the thought of having graduated Middle School. I couldn't wrap my mind around being on the receiving end of those flowers, a senior bursting with pride at the thought of graduating from high school. But here we are, all gathered on this campus together for the last time...

The thing is, I don't think that these experiences are just over, period. For instance, the Quest trip may have ended in April, but last Wednesday, I may as well have been transported back to the river for a class period. We were napping in Chip's backyard as Chip sang the very song he would sing each morning on the trip to wake us curled up in our sleeping bags... To relive Quest any more thoroughly would require flying back to Utah.

What I'm trying to say is that just because we've completed our time here does not mean that we've closed this chapter in our lives forever. I believe that Lakeside will continue to come back to us in little and big ways as we move on from this place. It's like how when you finish a really good book, and though you may never open it again, the characters never really leave you.

Lakeside may come back to you when you're sitting up late studying in your dorm room and can't for the life of you remember what a free radical chain reaction is, so you whip out the free gift of organic reactions and their catalysts that Mr. de Grys gave you in organic chemistry senior year. Or maybe you'll think of Lakeside when you eat a really, really good cookie and think, "Meh, Daphne's are better." Or you'll be opening a tin of sardines for whatever reason and might remember running through the campus decked in tin foil and gray sweats with these 139 other people and throwing candy at—excuse me, to—underclassmen.

In the future you may find yourself facing resistance fighting for something you believe in. You may feel strengthened by looking back on our class's mature but unwavering efforts to reinstate the Wall of Shame because we believed that it was vital to disband the illusion that Lakeside students are perfect.

You may one day be depending on members of this class when you've been chewed up and spit out by life and feel completely vulnerable. I can't imagine a more compassionate, generous group to turn to... I know I'll never forget that these very people crowded into the Fireplace Room for Sylvie's beautiful Real Talk a couple weeks ago even though the sun was finally out and it was senior pet day. There are people here who will come through for you for the rest of your life...

Lakeside Class of 2017, faculty and staff, administration, parents and grandparents, thank you for the experiences that will forever be a part of each of us. Thank you for being the people I've grown up with.

And, in the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, I'd like to say, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." And how relieved I am that this goodbye isn't forever.

Thank you.