Every Friday the Waldorf School of Garden City High School gathers in the student room for the weekly Student Assembly that consists of an extended speech by a senior on a topic of particular interest to them. The Senior Speeches as are a rite of passage for Waldorf students and are a required part of the high school curriculum. See below to read recaps of all the speeches given in the third quarter of the High School Year!
Haana Smothergill – 2/9
An individual’s life is the sum of many small moments that have major implications in their lives. This is known as the butterfly effect and it served as the centerpiece of Haana Smothergill’s speech. She began by reflecting on the various moments that impacted her life, even before she was born, such as her parents meeting for the very first time. She then went on to describe some key individuals and events in her own life that she feels contributed to who she is today. She reflected on how, with the help of her best friend, she worked to build confidence with public speaking and she discussed her burgeoning love of psychology and how it could impact her future. She concluded by wondering who she might have become had the early interactions and events of her life been different. While she will never know that answer, she does know and appreciate the fact that it is the many seemingly inconsequential moments that together have shaped her into the person she has become.
Emily Brew – 2/9
Everybody has a passion for something in their lives. For Emily Brew, that passion is dance. To her, dance is more than just an extracurricular activity, it is an outlet for expression that has helped her through a variety of challenges and also to grow as a person. Emily first began dancing at age 3 with a class once a week and immediately loved it. At age 7 she was overjoyed to receive a new pair of dancing shoes, and after having tried out 3 times, finally landing a role in her dance school’s production of The Nutcracker. Dance is how Emily found and developed her voice as an individual. It taught her to push her physical limits and even helped her to express herself emotionally. She even turned to dance to help her through one of the hardest times in her life. When much was lost in a house fire, the resilience she gained from dance helped her move forward and she continued to push herself. Since 2013 Emily has been on a dance team that has performed all over the east coast including Walt Disney World in Orlando. Emily has loved every moment of it and is incredibly grateful for all dance has given her. She concluded by performing her own dance that she dedicated to her grandmother.
Marisa Cheng – 3/2
Marisa Cheng’s speech reflected the duality of her experience as a person of both Italian and Chinese descent. Growing up, with these two identities was often confusing as she was never quite sure where she fit in. While she spent parts of her life living in both China and Italy she sometimes found that it was difficult to decide which culture and customs to follow. This led her on a journey of self-discovery that challenged her and opened her eyes to new ways of thinking. Now as a young adult, she realizes that she has been given a gift and she embraces all of her wonderful and unique qualities that had one time made her feel different, and she is prepared to face the world with confidence. Marisa ended by advising her fellow students to believe in themselves and to take the time to learn who they really are.
Jake Benn – 3/9
Jake Benn began by musing on how he sometimes thinks of himself as unusual, as a guy who loves the arts and who never felt particularly talented at sports. He understood that creative challenges best suited for him and so he tried to seek those out. His first great love was sparked when he won $500 from a lottery scratch off. He used the money to buy parts for a small electric dirt bike that he could build himself. Ever since, motor sports have been a huge part of his life and he spends much of his free time building and refurbishing motor bikes. According to Jake, there was no feeling more satisfying than getting an engine others assumed was broken to work. This hobby pushed him creatively, and he sought out other outlets, such as art programs, to improve his skills. In high school, when it became difficult to balance school and his hobbies, Jake still made time for his passions. Jake suggests that everyone should take chances and try new things, for they never know what might grab them.
Daniel Zhuang – 3/16
Daniel Zhuang used his speech to reflect on his perfectionism, and how it has been both a positive and a negative influence on his life. It drove him to study very hard for exams in school, but it also sometimes made him late for school because, for example, he had to triple check to ensure he locked the door to his home properly. It was a feeling that he had lived with all his life and he was always striving to find a balance with. This drive toward perfection led Daniel to the sciences because rigorously testing theories is expected and rewarded, however challenges arose when working in groups. Tensions developed after multiple rounds of testing and new ideas did not meet high standards. This helped Daniel learn to communicate better with his teammates and to compromise and listen to others. Meanwhile, his perfectionism pushed his team to develop a highly effective product and his insistence on regular testing ensured its effectiveness. Daniel hopes that while he works to maintain balance in his life, he will use his drive to make positive things happen in the world.
Tommy Zhang – 3/23
Tommy Zhang recounted how he has always faced the challenge of working very hard to try to meet people’s expectations. While going to school in Beijing, he played the piano and was the choral accompanist at this school. He practiced 5 days a week for this role, yet he never truly felt like he was part of the group. Later, when he first came to the United States to study, he faced challenges integrating into life in Indiana. It wasn’t until he started at the Waldorf School of Garden City that he began to feel at home. These experiences taught him some important life lessons. First, it taught him to face challenges with optimism. He believes that a positive attitude helps make obstacles more manageable. He also learned to trust his instincts in order reach his goals. Finally, he learned the most important lesson, to like and appreciate himself. He concluded his speech emphasizing the importance of this final lesson, saying, “If I don’t like myself, I am always with someone I don’t like.”