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graduation speakers

Class of 2021 Graduation Speech Excerpts

members of the Class of 2021
At Commencement in late May, four seniors spoke to their classmates. Here are excerpts from their speeches.

Kelile Southwell, Class Speaker

After a year of wearing masks, helping teachers with technology, standing on dots, and forgetting to fill out SchoolPass Questionnaires, we did it, and today, 118 Ensworth tigers earn their stripes. After these four years, no longer can our parents hit us with that “back when I was a kid” speech because when they were kids they, in fact, did not go to school in a pandemic. Now, we have our own stories to tell when we’re all old heads at someone’s cookout.

As a class, it is evident we are talented in many ways that extend beyond the classroom and into many areas. Just not into the area of planning senior pranks. For the future of this class, I have high hopes with 19 Capstone Scholars, 19 Service Scholars, 12 Athletic Signees, six National Merit Scholars, and three US Presidential Scholar Nominees. I have no doubt that we are one of the most, if not the most, talented and capable classes to ever walk the campus. Such an abundance of talents and abilities is rare and is worthy of celebration. As I look into this crowd, I am confident that I am looking at future CEOs, movie producers, doctors, Olympians, actors, and everything in between. I name all these different roles because greatness takes on many forms. Greatness has no age, gender, or race, and what makes one person great may not make someone else great. In the words of the contemporary Canadian Philosopher and musician, Drake, “Mike never tried to rap like Pac, and Pac never tried to sing like Mike.” So as we move on to greater things, class, I urge you to think about what makes you great, not your peers.

Liam Frumkin, Elected by the Senior Class

My actual number one memory: Student Speaker Series. Earlier this school year, I shared my struggles with my eating disorder with all of you. I had no idea how you guys would react. Honestly, I was scared to go to school afterwards. I am so incredibly grateful for all of you. You not only treated me completely normally, but also supported me, shared with me, and got me through some tough times. Every day I battle my disorder, but it is so much easier to win the fight with you guys there with me.

As we go into college, I do want you guys to know that if you want to wear some memory foam Skechers, then you wear some Skechers. If you want to get up on a weirdly placed balcony and sing, knock yourself out. If you want to shove a staple in a door….well, don’t do that. Most of all, though, know that everything is easier with people by your side. Writing this speech showed me how I could not have done any of this alone. I got through school by observing, learning, and working with you guys. Getting to this point was definitely a team effort. Thank G-d I had such a good team. I wish you guys all the best and thank you all so much for the amazing memories together.

William Vreeland, Student Government President

Much of my high school experience was shaped by the pursuit of things that I was afraid of, public speaking being just one of them. As we collectively enter into a new chapter of our lives, there will be moments when we all have to make big decisions. When considering your options, I urge you to not shy away from something simply because it scares you. Would you make a different decision if you were not afraid of rejection, uncertainty, or the unknown? Now, leaving high school, one of our most valuable assets is our youth. Your destiny is not set, and there is still time to choose your path through life. Think long and hard about your values, what you want out of a career, relationship, or friendship, and before you lock in a large decision, always consider the choice you would have made if you weren’t afraid. I urge you all - every member of the absolutely awesome class of 2021 to always ask yourself “what would you do if you weren’t scared?” Then do that.

Ensworth Class of 2021, you are an amazing group of people, and I can not wait to see what comes of us. You are talented, hard-working, ambitious, and passionate, and I will miss more than anything getting to see your friendly faces on campus. It’s been a great four years, but this is only the beginning for us all.

Jacqueline Frist, Elected by the Senior Class

I know I cannot be the only one wondering what our motto, “In Search of Truth,” even means. What is this big truth we are searching for? Is it the secret ingredient that makes E-cookies taste so good? Is it the answer as to what lurks inside the bell tower? Or maybe it’s the identity of the person who left that poor, half-eaten sandwich on the locker room floor during sophomore year? Well, I’ll tell you this: the truth we are in search of is not always what you think. This past year has unearthed a lot of needed reflection for myself; in turn, I thought about what this maxim truly means to us as students. Initially, I perceived that the truth we needed to discover was our plans for college. I thought the truth could be found in the pages of our textbooks. I will admit that I merely saw our school motto as a surface-level encouragement to study hard; in reality, that does a disservice to the genuine meaning of the statement. The truth is—well, I can’t exactly tell you what the truth is. There can’t be one answer when there is no question in the first place. That’s how life works: you can only find answers when you are willing to ask yourself what you are looking for.

[..] I feel that I have discovered my truth, for now. I say “for now” because truth works in ways that we don’t always expect. The “truth” Ensworth was in search of twenty years ago is different from what we search for now. Nevertheless, the mission statement remains the same. It is timeless. The motto will never change to “In Discovery of Truth” – we will always continue to be in search of it. Life always gives us more to learn from. That is why I can’t tell you all what the answer to our motto is, because that is your truth. Our mission statement implores us to constantly reach for a greater understanding of ourselves and of others. We survived high school, gritted through every test, and made it to graduation. These little victories in life, however small, are yet one step closer to understanding ourselves. And so, we continue our search for truth.
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