Reflection, Appreciation, And Endless Possibilities

Editor’s note: The Wanderer has invited student speakers at this year’s high school graduation exercises to share their speeches with our readers. Tabor Academy’s Commencement Ceremony celebrating the Class of 2024 was held on May 31. Tabor annually selects a male student and a female student to deliver the Senior Address as co-heads of school.

By Julian Badger, Tabor Academy Co-Head of School

Hello and thank you to everyone for being here today.

I want to start by saying congratulations to all of my peers for a successful four … or five years of high school leading up to this point.

Graduates, as you sit here today and reflect on all of the hard work you have put into your education, I want you to also think about how you have grown outside of the classroom. Think about when at Tabor you have become a better artist, actor, athlete or anything else you have excelled at when putting your mind to it.

We have been exposed to people with completely different backgrounds and upbringings. In our grade alone, we have students from 12 different countries and 13 U.S. states. Students from almost 10,000 miles away in Jakarta, Indonesia, to right down the street in Marion, Massachusetts.

Through our differences, we also share many similarities like waiting in that long D-hall line for chicken tenders, and wanting this speech to end so that you can get your diploma. But we are also bonded through times like having to navigate through Covid early on in our high school careers or going the Camp Burgess retreat before the start of this academic year.

Tabor has a section of the website dedicated to explaining what students will get out of their Tabor experience called “portrait of a graduate.” I asked a couple different students to give their personal experiences and takeaways.

Cam Martin was the “XO” of the Tabor Boy this year. Through coming to Tabor, he discovered authenticity is key, and people will attract towards you if you are true to yourself. For an adjective of a Tabor grad, he used the word truthful.

Sarah Adams is one of the more vocal voices in our class and is on a wide range of different committees, as well as being a two-sport varsity captain. And she said in her four years here she has learned how to be confident and her true authentic self, and the word she would use that embodies a graduate of Tabor is confident.

Next was Brett Csongor, who was someone that got to live and become comfortable with both the day-student life as well as the boarding experience in his time here. Through Tabor, he learned that great friends can truly make a difference in your high school experience. And the word he provided was ambitious.

Perry Goodridge was a varsity football and baseball captain and a leader of the Tabor madmen this year. He stressed that by coming here he learned the importance of community and how cherishing everyday interactions is extremely vital, and the one word he used was driven.

Natalie Konowitz was the co-head of the Gender Sexuality Alliance and is involved in many different art spaces on campus. During her time here, she learned that the point of learning is to embrace the challenge of the unfamiliar despite the risk of error. And the word she used was potential.

Richard Ye is an amazing actor-slash-singer and was the lead in the musical Footloose; he is also one of the most electric people you’ll ever meet. He said Tabor offered him the will to aim for the moon and shoot for the stars, as well as the skills and friendships that he will cherish for my lifetime. The word he used was inspired.

The last person I talked to was Taylor Darby. Taylor was my fellow co-head this year. Her biggest takeaway from coming to Tabor was she realized asking for help is not a sign of vulnerability, and when asked one descriptive word to outline what Tabor molds graduates into she said compassionate.

After hearing all of these answers, I realized that through our time here we all have picked up different traits and skills. Truthful, Confident, Ambitious, Driven, Potential Filled, and Compassionate are just a short list of what Tabor has helped develop.

We have been molded to become better students but more importantly better people. These characteristics will carry us further in life than any math equation or history lesson.

Wherever is the next step for you, I urge you to not be a cookie cutter of a model graduate; instead use this portrait to springboard you forward. Never let your environment change who you are and who you are becoming.

I know you all will cherish these high school memories forever, but also take with you the experiences, interactions and lessons that have shaped you into who you are today.

Also, when reflecting on the takeaways you have from your time here, think about everyone who has contributed to you sitting where you are today. All the parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, coaches, teachers.

And to those in the crowd that have a student you are here for, just know it’s not just them walking on this stage today, it’s your pep talks and words of encouragement, your shoulder to cry on and everything you have done to help, so congratulations to you, too.

Before I wrap this up so that we can move on and we can all get our important piece of paper, I know I’m not supposed to make it personal, but I want to thank Coach Patrick, Mrs. Wallace, and Mr. Gales. You guys have taught me so many life lessons, and I wouldn’t be here today without your guide.

And my parents, you guys have sacrificed and invested so much for me, and I want you guys to know I appreciate and love you so much.

And lastly, I want to thank Tabor for a fantastic, four-year sleepover.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And with that being said, Tabor Class of 2024, congratulations, we did it.

Next, I would like to welcome to the podium the other co-head of school this past year, and someone that I am extremely lucky to have in my life. She my partner in crime and, as some would say, the Michelle to my Barack … Taylor Darby.

By Taylor Darby, Tabor Academy Co-Head of School

Good morning everyone! It’s great to see you all, faculty and staff, proud parents and families, and of course the Class of 2024.

Before I get started, I have to make a confession and give you all a warning. From the moment I knew I had to give a speech today, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was going to cry. I mean, if you know me, you know tears are inevitable. But for everyone else, if you see a tear, or two, or 10 flow down my cheek, just know it’s because I’m so happy and proud of each and every person in this graduating class. I haven’t been gifted with a pretty crying face, but don’t be alarmed. My not-so-pretty, crying face just has its own unique way of saying “Congratulations, we did it!”

Uncertainty and I have been two peas in a pod throughout my high school journey. From the moment I stepped foot on campus and laid my head on my freshly made bed in Baxter as a freshman, my head filled with thoughts of excitement and anxiety. I had no clue what the next four years would hold. Would I fit in? Would I find my people? Is this the right place for me? But despite the uncertainty, there were moments of clarity and courage that helped me navigate that rollercoaster that high school is.

One moment came during junior year. I was always the kid who was scared to raise my hand in class to admit I didn’t understand the material or ask a question. I’ve always been an independent person, refusing to ask for help, even when I desperately needed it, and continuously convincing myself I could figure anything and everything out on my own.

Late one night, I was sitting at my desk staring at my notes, completely lost and ready to give up. However, I didn’t have that choice. The absolute last solution popped into my head. Asking for help. I sulked all the way to my friend Lara’s room dreading saying the three words… “I need help.”

As soon as I walked in, she could immediately see the stress and frustration on my face and without hesitation, she offered to help. We spent hours going over the material, and by the end, I understood the concepts, but also realized the importance of reaching out. I discovered that asking for help is not a sign of weakness and that it’s okay to be vulnerable and not have all the answers. We grow when we admit our uncertainties and confront them head-on.

Another defining moment was the moment that allowed me to be up here speaking to you today. I remember standing in front of the whole school, delivering two speeches with trembling legs, clammy hands, and my heart beating out of my chest. I was unsure if I should’ve ran.

Did I have what it took to lead? All I knew was that I wanted to be the voice of the student body, advocate for them, and help continue to build community at Tabor. Being one of the co-heads this year has been such a rewarding experience. I’ve learned that leadership isn’t about having all the answers, but about listening, learning, and growing with those around you.

Well, we’re here. The end of our high school journey. The day some of us have been waiting for since sixth grade, ready to grow up. For others, this is the day you have been dreading, and hoping you had just a little extra time. Regardless of how you feel, the time is here. It feels like yesterday we were wandering around campus as new students, trying to get accustomed to this place that would soon become home. The obstacle of COVID-19 didn’t make things any easier. Who would’ve thought that wearing masks and white tents covering the campus would become the new normal? But hey, we made it through proving that even in the face of uncertainty, we can adapt.

Now, as we get ready for the next chapter of our lives, it’s only normal to feel a little nervous. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still afraid of uncertainty. Will we make new friends? Will we find our passion? Did we choose the right path? But, I find comfort in words of wisdom from Matt Reynolds, Class of 1982. He said, “Don’t ever worry that you made the wrong decision. ’Cause you didn’t, if you felt comfortable with the decision you made, it was the right decision.” Now these words may sound straight from a fortune cookie, but they are wise words that resonate deeply with me.

Life is full of choices, each one shaping our life journey in ways both big and small. Though the future may be uncertain, the choices we make are what ultimately define us. So, let’s embrace the uncertainty as we have the power to write our own stories.

Before I close, I want to say thank you. To my friends both near and far, thanks for filling these four years with laughter and memories I’ll cherish forever. You’ve been my sanity and comfort in times of chaos and joy in times of celebration. To my family, thank you for traveling to be here, and thank you for your support and for believing in me. To Ms. McCarthy, Mrs. Wallace, and Dr. Black, you have all been a guiding light, listened to my endless stories and rants, and provided support and encouragement when I needed it the most. To Julian, thank you for being my partner in crime. I know I’m not always the easiest person to work with, but thank you for your patience and understanding. And last but certainly not least, my mom. Mom, thank you for everything. For being my rock and biggest supporter. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made for me. Your unconditional love has carried me through the ups and downs of high school, and I wouldn’t be standing here without you today. I hope I’ve made you proud and to continue that.

To the Class of 2024, I wish the absolute best for all of you. As we bid farewell to Tabor Academy and set sail onto our own perspective paths, remember that the journey may be uncertain, but the possibilities are endless. Thank you.

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