Note: This the honors address Nicole Sindoni delivered at graduation.
Hello everyone! First and foremost, I would like to give my thanks to all of the people that made this day happen: the School Committee, faculty, families, and especially my classmates, who also deserve a big congratulations. We did it! This day really wouldn’t be happening without any of you.
When I was younger, I was always a math and science kid, preferring practical numbers over abstract ideas. I loved my times tables, but subjects like poetry just didn’t make sense. I could talk about the imagery and state the rhyme scheme for class, but the minute we had to talk about what the image meant and why the poem rhymed I was lost. It didn’t come naturally to me like numbers, and that frustrated me. Then, in freshman year, as you may remember all students were required to participate in Poetry Out Loud. I was not thrilled, to say the least, and I know many others were in the same boat. I already wasn’t a fan of poetry, and now I had to recite a poem in front of the whole class? Not my cup of tea.
In order to expose us to the art of poetry recitation, my English teacher played us videos of people reciting poems. One was called “Paper People” by Harry Baker. As I listened, for once I wasn't lost or confused trying to decipher some complex meaning. Without having to look up definitions or point out alliteration and metaphors, I understood what the author was trying to say. When I got home, I looked Harry Baker up on youtube and listened to more of his poems, and suddenly a new world was opened for me. Now, I no longer groan when Ms. P tells us we are doing poems in class. Even though I still struggle with figuring them out, I am excited, because that day I might find a new poem I love.
Before this, I never went looking for new poems. In fact, I used to not like new things at all. I refused to wear anything but dresses until I was six, had a pacifier until kindergarten, and ate pasta for dinner every other day. When I used to dance, the only way my mom could get me to try a jazz class was by tricking me and saying it was ballet (sorry mom for being so high maintenance). But in this ever changing world, that attitude doesn’t work. Any day we could walk into school to find the bathroom doors are gone. This year, I had to play tennis with a different doubles partner almost every match (shout out to my OG partner Lauren). The eighth grade New York trip might be switched to luxurious New Hampshire, the class schedule may change every single year (not confusing at all), or we may travel to England and be confronted with some very different, interesting food, to put it very, very kindly.
Whether we like it or not, we are always encountering new things. But I urge you to go looking for them. Some of us have chosen our major and even what career we want to have, others still have to make these decisions. We are all going to be voting for president in the next election (scary thought I know). You may be that kid who said they wanted to be a doctor in first grade and has stuck by it. Maybe you even already know who you are going to vote for president. However, you might also be that science kid who really likes poetry. You might be a history buff who sings on the weekends, or a classic literature lover who likes to play basketball. But you will never know these things about yourself if you don’t explore. Now that we don’t have to fulfill the requirements for graduating high school, we are free to take a class we know nothing about. Watch a different news channel and get a different opinion on the presidential candidates. Accept an invitation to yoga even if we have never tried it and are the least flexible person on Earth. So don’t put yourself in a box. And especially don’t let others put you in a box. In all the decisions you make, people will tell you what they think you should do based on who they think you are. They might tell you to major in business because you’re a math kid and you’ll make the most money. They might tell you to vote for this presidential candidate or that one because they’ll do what’s best for you. Listen to them, but don’t forget to listen to yourself. At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Do what feels right to you, and own it. If you love something, if you are truly passionate about something, then pursue it.
Now, in the spirit of poetry and trying new things, I would like to close with a brief ode to the class of 2019.
Students of Ipswich High School
It’s been a good run
You guys were pretty cool
Now our next chapter has begun
Go explore and have some fun