Class of 2020 Moves On
Faculty and families gathered for an online ceremony on Friday, June 12 to celebrate and bid farewell to the Class of 2020. We wish these 29 exceptional eighth graders well as they move on to these high schools in the fall: Arlington High School, Beaver Country Day School, Belmont High School, Belmont Hill School, Boston Latin High School, Brimmer and May School, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Cambridge School of Weston, Concord Academy, Dexter/Southfield School, Lexington Christian Academy, Middlesex School, Milton Academy, Newton North High School, Noble and Greenough School, Pingree School, Rivers School, and Taft School.
We hope you will visit our Graduation Site for photos and tributes to the Class of 2020.
Each year three students are selected by their peers and teachers to deliver remarks about their time at Belmont Day at the graduation ceremony. This year Miranda Harlow, Elena Ferrari, and Davin Roy shared their memories and aspirations for the future.
All year long, I’ve been super nervous to write this speech. Putting five years into a few short minutes is very difficult to do. Also, as many people can attest, my summarizing abilities aren’t as good as they could be. As I tried to put together my thoughts, I remembered something–I’d already written a speech this year, and the concept was very similar. This fall, all of the [Admissions] Ambassadors wrote a tour introduction for open house. We were supposed to include a little background on how we ended up at Belmont Day, and some sort of story to connect with the visitors. Mine goes like this: “My parents took me to open house when I was in third grade. I was skeptical at first, but something clicked while I sat in the library listening to the student panel. Although the kids sitting in front of the room were much older than me and had very different lives, I found myself relating with almost everything they said. That was the first of many amazing and memorable moments I’ve experienced here and I hope you have some of your own today.”
I was a little hesitant to include my tour intro here since its purpose is to introduce the often-used theme of finding your voice and growing as a person. I know it may feel like a cliché, but there is no better way to describe my Belmont Day journey.
Before I get into this, let me just say that my story has a happy ending–I did, believe it or not, learn how to find my voice and how to talk to adults. I gained confidence beyond my wildest dreams, and most importantly, I learned that the only way you could know what would happen was to just try it–hence why, among other things, I joined Ambassadors and said ‘yes’ to later being on the panel at open house myself.
During that panel, a question was asked that I’ve since forgotten, but I do remember my answer. I said, “I remember coming home from school in the fall of my first year and telling my mom, ‘I feel like my teachers understand me better in three months than teachers at my old school ever did.’” I’ve been told many times what a sweet story this is, and I’d have to agree. Not only is it a testament to the incredible teachers here, but it also shows the power of our community at Belmont Day. Only three months into my first year, I’d already experienced how truly tight-knit we are. I’d marveled at how everybody not only knew everyone else but also made a point to say hi to me in the hallway even if I didn’t know them yet. These new experiences were all happening fast, maybe a little too fast for me, as I do remember the terror of name games–having no clue what anyone’s name is when there are 30 people waiting for your answer can be pretty scary.
I learned quickly that this kind of fast change in myself would continue, and continue it did. By the end of fourth grade, I’d performed in our class play. In fifth grade, I joined Model UN and danced a solo at assembly. In sixth, I sang a solo during Freedom Night and talked to the kindergarten class about UNICEF.
And before I knew it, I was in the Kiva. Seventh grade had begun, with Cardigan Mountain, switching classes, and third-grade partners. I started Ambassadors, officially helping at open house and being on the panel for the first time. I spoke in front of the Parents’ Association and emailed a teacher a long message about the time we had for projects. Yes, fourth grade me would have been terrified of all of this. But I had gained confidence over the years and learned that trying things you’re scared of can be a good thing and that messing up is never the end of the world.
Of course, we still need to talk about Capstone. I’d always thought about it but brushed it off because it was so far away, just like being a big eighth-grader was. Only when we began Capstone classes last June did it begin to hit me: this was real, and no, I wasn’t just dreaming. I spent last summer thinking (and okay, mostly worrying.) We’re going to have so much work. I won’t be able to do it. I’m going to be so stressed and tired. I can’t do math this hard. What if I don’t make this year count and I regret it? These worries mostly dissolved a few weeks in, but it was still so overwhelming. My personal favorite way this manifested itself was at Project Adventure; I didn’t bat an eye when they said “eighth-graders” until I realized that they were talking about us.
Anyway, I believe that Capstone is one of the best things I’ve accomplished here. Not because of the grades I got, or the quality of the notes I took. I mean for myself. I did a phone interview all on my own. I shared my project with the head’s team. And, most importantly, I talked to 18 adults. Eighteen. That’s about 18 more than I ever thought I’d be speaking with. I’m not going to pretend it was all easy–there was a night I laid in bed and cried because I thought I was in over my head and couldn’t do it. I think my younger self took over a little because she never would have done this in a million years. But funny things happen when you least expect them–that’s what I told myself as I stood in front of my mirror on September 4 of this year, ready for my last first day at BDS.
So much had changed in the last four years–I’ve learned and laughed and made connections I will never forget. Of course, I’ll always remember the teachers who supported me every step of the way and celebrated me and my classmates for exactly who we were. I will also always remember my friends for fixing my dress before picture day and helping me with math homework and being there in general when I had complicated feelings to sort out. These are so so important, sure, but as I laid in bed writing about my thoughts on beginning eighth grade, I noticed that I was really focused on the little things–the hours we spent writing perched on the counter in Mr. Frey’s room with the rain pounding outside, begging to use the smartboard (even though it wasn’t so smart), taking the scenic route to the library, everybody’s it tag, Friday folders, magic sponges, our Illiad script, circular schedules, clean pages, tracing out our Venn diagrams since we were “troubled in the circle department,” and reading logs. Now, you may not know what all of those things mean, but I sure do. They mean community and growth and love and change and everything that’s made up my Belmont Day experience. And you know what? I think that’s a good enough summary for me. Thank you.
Click here to watch a video of Miranda’s speech.
When I started thinking about what to write in my graduation speech, I looked over my ten years spent at BDS. While revisiting various memories and milestones I had, I saw so much growth from the time I stepped foot in BDS for my first day of pre-kindergarten to now. When I thought of how I started out and where I have ended up, I thought of a tree’s growth.
We arrived at BDS as a seed. We were in pre-k, ready to grow, so much opportunity and so much to come in one tiny package. As we were slowly tucked into the nurturing soil of our teachers and friends, we sprouted tiny roots, underground, and started to anchor ourselves to what would eventually become a second home. We painted crazy swirls in art class and ran around and laughed and got to know who would grow beside us in the next 10 years. We looked up to the immense height of the eighth graders, tall trees that stretched into the sky. We never imagined what it would feel like to be them someday.
Kindergarten, and we poked our heads above the soil, slowly letting go of our iron grips on parents as they left the classroom for the day, We repeated three-letter popcorn words over and over again, and learned our first nine-letter word: community. This was a word we had already become, and a word we would use for our next eight years, though we didn’t know it yet. We ran around on Big Blue and made up countless games to play at recess, shrieking with laughter. Many of us read our first full book that year, on our own.
First grade, and we sprouted and shed our seed coats. We were in a grade now, school became more real. We wrote simple descriptive poems about peaches and apples and had a chart that counted how many teeth we’d each lost. There were quite a few gap-toothed smiles at the Winter Concert that year. We sang with Mr. Toppa and took books home in our book bags, reveling in the fact that we could read chapter books now. The monkey bars outside became a sort of Mount Everest, the barely surmountable challenge we’d tackle every day when we went outside.
Second grade, we lived by the words flexible, best, and perseverance. Not everything was going to go our way, so we had to be strong enough to keep our tiny stems upright but gentle enough to sway side to side with anything that shook us. As long as we tried our best, it was good work, and we were proud of it. And no matter what happened, we’d persevere. We’d keep trying, again and again and again, and we’d learn from each attempt. I remember walking around the classroom when we were sharing our endangered animals projects, and seeing everybody’s wooden animals on the table. That year, we learned something that has stuck with me for all of my years at BDS. Twenty-nine plus two equals one. This seemingly impossible mathematical operation makes perfect sense when you consider that 29 peers and two teachers come together to form one class, and one community.
By third grade we were seedlings. We had homework for the first time, and we felt so grown up, but we were still the younger cross-graded partners. I remember the frantic excitement in the weeks leading up to our state fair, and how much work we put into it. We cut apart Twizzlers in math class and had dance parties. I remember doing the bee dance on the rug in what used to be the Annex, running around in dizzy figure eights to show how bees communicate.
Fourth grade, we finally became the older cross graded partner. We felt like it was too early, but we met the challenge. The expectations we faced made us look down and realize how much we’d grown. Class times were spent hot gluing together pyramids and speaking at our Egyptian forum and drawing huge Greek gods. The math classroom was constantly filled with plants. Bean plants, or hundreds of tiny sprouts for the plant sale. We tried to write our own Greek play. It went … alright, and by alright I mean I think we invented a new genre. Something like “Modern Chaotic History.”
Fifth grade was the first year of middle school. We were saplings, it was our first time having a real trunk. It was the first time we became aware that others could look up to us. We wrapped our roots around each other, forming an underground web that we couldn’t always see, but it was there when we needed it.
Grade six, and we stood backstage, feverish with excitement for Freedom Night. We had made films, written essays and poems, and made art for months and it was all leading up to this night. We went to Farm School together, and wrote poems with Mr. Spencer. We learned about space with Ms. Moriarty and we cried at moving up as we said good-bye to 11 of our classmates.
Seventh grade we felt this loss of part of our forest, so we stretched to grow and take up the space that had been left behind. We made new friends in advisory and ran across Big Blue on our way back from lunch. This time on Big Blue, we walked under the monkey bars and touched them without jumping. It was a sort of bittersweet realization, that the mountain we’d struggled up in first grade was now far too small for us.
Eighth grade and I think we’re fully grown trees. This year, we are a forest, formidable and wonderful. Each and every one of us has found an abundance of courage to continue learning, growing, and becoming better people. In the next chapter of our lives, we’ll drop a seed and start anew, but I have confidence that that courage to continue will stay with us. It feels so strange to say that my journey at BDS is over. That I’ve learned all I’m going to learn here, and that I won’t come back to this place where I have grown so tremendously. Some of us have spent 10 years here, and some have spent two, but we have all grown together and created a community that I know I’ll sorely miss. I wish everyone as great an experience as I’ve had at BDS in the next chapter of their lives.
Click here to watch a video of Elena’s speech.
First off, I started this late. I knew I would. Yes, I do procrastinate, but usually not this much. I’m usually not this late. I knew that I would have to write a speech, and that didn’t scare me at all, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to my desk and begin to write. Not because I don’t have anything to say; it’s the opposite. It might sound cliché, but it’s 100% true., and I think everyone graduating today can tell you the same thing, as much as they might try to disguise it. This is hard. Hard because there’s too much to say, too much to re-cap. Too much to squeeze or fit into one speech, one farewell, or one “this is it.” It’s like trying to wrap your mind around the whole world with all of its complexities, yet somehow you simultaneously know everything about it. You don’t know what it’s going to be like after you leave, but at the same time you do. It’s bittersweet leaving this place during an ordinary year, and this year has been so far from ordinary. Various pieces of ourselves were abruptly left behind at school. Binders, papers, coats, boots, gloves, hats, scarves, and memories. We didn’t get a chance to say good-bye to this place. But Belmont Day isn’t just a place, or just a school. It’s the atmosphere, the environment, the feelings that are associated with it, that truly make it special. The most remarkable part of our school is the people–the community of students, teachers, coaches, and families. As I think about my time here, I imagine Belmont Day as a combination of all of those people, someone who has taught me many valuable lessons, and I’d like to share three of the most important lessons with you today.
Belmont Day, or let’s call him B.D. for now, is a person of good heart. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Of course, most people who know B.D think he is kind, somewhat overprotective, honest, incredibly trustworthy, and an everlasting friend that you know you can count on. He taught me how to be a great friend. It’s quite interesting that his favorite song is “Count On Me” by Bruno Mars, which he knows every word to like it’s written on the back of his hand. He tells me that he won’t let me down no matter what the scenario is, and that he’ll want the best for me, and push me to be my best, but will always respect me for who I am and make my choices for myself. That’s one of the most important lessons that I took from B.D.:
Look out for your friends, no matter what, but you be you, and stay respectful and mindful.
I distinctly recall a memory from kindergarten. I was attempting to shoot a basketball for the first time in my life. I was so weak and small, being only 6 years old; I couldn’t even get the ball to touch the net, let alone the rim or even going in. B.D noticed that I couldn’t make a shot. B.D also noticed that I was trying, but would get discouraged when I missed, and would sometimes walk off of the court after two or three attempts, my head low between my shoulders. B.D helped me over the next few weeks. Since he knew how to shoot the ball already, he was willing to help. He helped me with my shot, told me where to put my hands, and where to aim. It was fun learning something new, and with a goal ahead. Even though he taught me all the mechanics, he told me the number one thing I needed to do was keep trying no matter how many times I missed. In eighth grade words, that probably means staying consistent with practice and maintaining a good attitude. I understood B.D and took his advice. Soon enough, by the end of kindergarten, I was making shots like Michael Jordan–in my mind of course. Even after making my first shot, I didn’t just stop since I’d achieved my goal of scoring. After thinking about B.D and what he taught me and continuing to practice and improve, I realized that through the years that I loved the game and I kept at it, and it became my first love in the world of sports.
B.D taught me to navigate challenges with my head up high, and learn from my mistakes. Mistakes are okay! They always are. Along with that, struggle can often lead to a world of success and opportunity.
B.D taught me that life is not what it always may seem to be visually, or even mentally. I remember one specific time, pretty recently in fact, I was assigned an arts elective that initially, I wasn’t too thrilled about: kinetic sculpture class. Now, I’ve done numerous sketches and paintings; those are things I consider myself to be pretty good at. But sculpture? Nope. I had no experience, no prior knowledge, and in the beginning, almost no desire to improve. B.D told me to give it a chance. Try something new, explore undefined or unopened parts of your personality or interests. So, I gave it a try. Of course, as B.D often is, he was right. I started off with a few rough pieces of work, my sculptures looking a bit dilapidated and sad. I sought help from a teacher, since I trusted B.D that trying new things and trying to excel could never hurt. For the final project, my inner sculptor began to show! I combined my love of basketball, and artistic side of me to create a realistic looking spinning basketball out of tape that was colored with the real colors of a ball. I was excited to show my friends outside of the class, not just the material I had created, but the new skill I had been able to pick up, with the help of my teacher, and of course, B.D.
Belmont Day has been a school that has made such a profound impact on my life. My life is influenced by the things you all have been able to teach me, which I’ve done my best to take to heart and live by. Belmont Day has been my home, my rock. You’ve taken care of me, accepted me and my family, and in this school are the kindest and most genuine people I know. Now I want to leave you all with my personal memento. My parting remembrance of this school in one sentence, the moral of my Belmont Day school story. The lessons you teach yourself through your own process of life are the most valuable that you will ever learn, so stay true to yourself and what you value, and the sky’s the limit.
Click here to watch a video of Davin’s speech.