An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sebastian Alfonso, Class of 2019

Following is an excerpt from Student Government President Sebastian Alfonso’s speech at Commencement 2019.

I generally don’t subscribe to looking in the rearview mirror; as a rule, I feel you can only afford brief sentimentality before plunging headlong into what lies ahead. But today is an exception. We are gathered here to celebrate four years in happiness, four years in more stress than I care to remember, four years on the rockin’ roller coaster that is high school, four years together. And at the same time, we’re here to usher in a future rich with opportunity. Every one of us will disperse across the United States, some beyond, and this will be our last moment as a class united. For some this will, sadly, be the very last time we see one another. We stand, in other words, at a very significant intersection of past and future.

… We all have our own stories, arcs that we trace through time and space and that just so happen, by some miracle of fate, to cross at this moment. But I do feel I would be committing a disservice if I did not take today, our last hurrah, to highlight a few landmarks on the receding horizon.

We recently held our final Drama IV showcase, an event that lasted well into the night and had me thinking, as I listened to “Come Sail Away” on the drive home, of my journey to where I had come. I joined Drama in 9th grade as a mere check in the box, driven mostly by my inability to draw anything more complicated than a stick figure. I had no real passion for it and planned, after completing my arts requirement, to quietly slip out and turn my attention to other classes. Well, suffice it to say, I am lucky beyond one’s wildest imaginings that never happened. Gradually the fine art of thespianism won me over. We’ve grown together as a class, many of us since that first day of 9th grade when we walked through the chapel doors without the slightest inkling of the adventure that lay ahead. In my mind it represents, without being overly theatrical, the magic of Lakeside. The freedom to explore and be open in an exceedingly rare environment.

I was reflecting, a few days ago, with a friend – and I hope he doesn’t mind my mentioning it here – on our favorite snapshots from Lakeside across these last four years. From the bigger moments – receiving acceptance letters to colleges and universities – to the small ones, no less profound – playing hours of Blokus one afternoon, or the night before our cross-country state competition watching SpongeBob on the hotel TV. I’ll borrow from the musical “Rent,” which Lakeside produced last year, in claiming there’s no universal way to measure that experience. Because clearly, it’s greater than the sum of its parts; more than seconds ticking away on a clock or a never-ending deluge of assignments. We’ve passed through seasons of love.

And here I think it’s appropriate to mention someone whose love is very tangible, who has been a source of unwavering support through thick and thin. You will have to forgive me: this speech is intended to be more general, but I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to embarrass Ms. Asaka one final time while I have everyone’s attention. There are no words to express my gratitude for what she has gifted myself and the school. ...

Before I close, I have to give thanks where thanks are due. There are a dizzying number of individuals who have helped along the way, and I cannot possibly hope to thank them all. I could stand here for years and still not have given adequate thanks to repay all that has been selflessly contributed so we could be here today. My thanks will be colored by my own experience, but I will try to capture as much of the essence of each “thank you” as I can.

The teachers, first and foremost. They have been the bedrock of our time at Lakeside, working ceaselessly and putting up with constant questions – to Mr. Culhane, who scared the living daylights out of me when he slammed his fist upon the table while we were quietly reading Frost, to Mr. Kresser, who taught us that downstairs downstairs equals upstairs, to Ms. Christy, whose love of musical theater is unparalleled, and to so many others, we thank you. Staff is just as essential and receives, perhaps, far fewer thanks than it merits. To everyone in the business office, to admissions, to Ms. Maiorano, whose smiling face I am always eager to see, to Ms. Wilks and to Mr. Noe, who gently nudge the overpowering passion of our school always forward, thank you. Special thanks, by the way, must go out to the college counselors; what they achieve every year is nothing short of miraculous. Last but not least, we come to family: parents, guardians, siblings, and friends. Through sun and rain, through our worst decisions and most difficult moments, they stand always by our side. It is never a sacrifice, never an obligation; and we thank you for that love.

When I was little, my grandfather ended every story with a phrase that I feel is particularly apt under the circumstances – colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado, y el tuyo, no ha empezado. This story has ended, but yours has just begun. With that I’ll let the new story take flight.

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