Allie Brunner was one of the students chosen to address the Class of 2013 at the Friends Select School in Philadelphia.
Allie Brunner ’13 has achieved much during her well-rounded career at Friends Select. An honors student for each of her four years at FSS, she is a member of the Cum Laude Society and recipient of several awards recognizing her leadership and community service: the FSS Faculty Award for Leadership; the FSS Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Service Award; and the FSS Parent Association Most Valuable Senior Award. She also received an Honorable Mention on the National Spanish Exam.
In addition to her academic achievements, Allie has exhibited leadership both in and outside school.
She was this year’s FSS yearbook co-editor-in chief; co-leader of Helping Hands, the school’s community service club; and was varsity tennis captain.
Allie is a Sunday School teacher at Calvary Episcopal Church and also volunteers with Episcopal Community Services.
Allie will attend New York University in the fall and will major in elementary education.
Good morning fellow graduates, students, trustees, faculty, families, and friends. I’m Allie Brunner, and I’d like to begin by saying that I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to speak to you today.
I have attended Friends Select School for the last four years and for those of you who do not know, the “Friends” in our name signifies that we are a Quaker school. I have gone to Quaker schools my entire life; and while I am not a Quaker myself, I think I finally have a good grasp on what Quakerism is. And I have come to the conclusion that it really is not about just sitting in silence for long periods of time!
Quakers have a set of beliefs referred to as “SPICES”, meaning Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. Being a Quaker school, Friends Select embraces all of these values, but there is one particular “Spice” that I think is most noticeable at our school: Community. According to Webster’s Dictionary, community is “a unified body of individuals”. At Friends Select, we are a unified body of scholars, artists, athletes, musicians, teachers, and more, who are able to come together and have honest discussions, friendly conversations, and intellectual debates. Our community is what makes us special, and there are a few particular parts of this community I would like to discuss.
First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents for allowing me the opportunity to go to this school and become a part of this community. Without them, I would have never been able to get as wonderful an education as I have had throughout my life. So thank you, Mom and Dad, I owe you the world and more.
Now in order to explain just how special the Friends Select community is, I have to discuss the faculty and staff who make this community unique. The relationship between students and teachers is mutually supportive. We do not fear our teachers at Friends Select; in fact, we text them! I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to make sure my phone’s autocorrect did not change any of my Spanish words into crazy English ones as I texted my Spanish teacher about the homework.
We have such good relationships with our teachers that they occasionally become more like parents, particularly when it comes to a class meeting with Wendy scolding us about our messy hallway. All of the teachers here create a comfortable environment with their students as you could notice as you walk by a classroom and see a teacher playing guitar or using their Harry Potter wand to duel with students. And I believe that a comfortable environment allows a student to excel. My relationships with every single one of my teachers have allowed me to ask for help easily whether with test prep or a personal problem, and therefore to do better in all aspects of my life. And I think that is true for almost every student at Friends Select. The faculty and staff at Friends Select are supportive, friendly, and loving. They make the students strive for excellence and they make the community thrive. On behalf of the Class of 2013, thank you to all of our wonderful teachers over the last four years. We could not have become the responsible, college ready students we are today without you.
Next, I must address the most important part of my Friends Select community over the last four years, this very eclectic group of people behind me, the Class of 2013. We are actually a community all of our own, like one big dysfunctional family. There is a lot of drama, a lot of arguing, but most importantly, a lot of love. Now I am not going to lie; we are a grade with tendencies to complain and whine about yearbook ads or still getting homework during our second semester as seniors. But we have always been so much more than our flaws; you just have to get to know us. After spending some time with us, you can see that we are a class full of big thinkers, caring friends, and hard workers, in sports, art, theater, music, or schoolwork. While we may sometimes be a little crazy, like when we dragged a couch to Love Park for a class picture, what family isn’t? But out of all these good and bad qualities, I personally think the best one our grade has is the ability to strongly encourage and support each other in every way. I knew I could count on every person in this grade to help me with a calculus problem or just to put a smile on my face. Over the last four years, this class has given me the courage to speak up, the encouragement to try new things, and the confidence to be myself. We have had a lot of downs, but even more ups, and there is no class I would have rather spent my high school career a part of. I came into freshman year knowing five people in this class, and I walk out of my senior year happy to say that I have, in some way, created a relationship with all forty eight of you. I know every single one of us is going to do amazing things in the future and we could have not prepared ourselves for this future without each other. So thank you to the Class of 2013; you created the most encouraging, funny, and crazy community I could have ever asked for.
These are just a few of the aspects that make the Friends Select community so extraordinary. I am lucky to have been educated in a community so open and tight knit. Friends Select has helped me grow from the shy, awkward freshman I walked into this community as to the confident, prepared high school graduate I walk out as today. I am sad to be leaving this community that has changed me so much, but I know that I have been given the tools to face what the world has in store for me next. So I would like to finally thank Friends Select School as a whole, you have shaped me, and every other member of the Class of 2013, into the adults we are today. I will take everything this community has given me on to college and beyond, and I know everyone else will too. Thank you faculty, thank you fellow graduates, thank you Friends Select, and thank you all for listening.
Congratulations Class of 2013 and good luck, not that we really need it.