Friends Select School
Chelsea Cylinder is one of three students who addressed the graduating Class of 2013 at the Friends Select School in Philadelphia.
Chelsea Cylinder ’13 is an accomplished student, leader and thespian. A member of the Cum Laude Society, she was an honors and high honors student throughout her high school career.
Chelsea earned a Silver Medal in the National Spanish Exam Recognition her junior year and an Honorable Mention her freshman year. Recently, she was awarded the Friends Select School Alumni/ae Award and The Jonathon R. Levine’73 Drama Award in recognition of her many contributions to the life of the school.
As a student leader, Chelsea was co-editor in chief of the yearbook, president of the student government her senior year, and secretary of student government her junior year. She also is an accomplished thespian. Some of her favorite roles include Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire; Luciana in The Bomb-itty of Errors, for which she received a Greater Philadelphia Cappies Nomination for Best Comic Actress; Gretl Von Trapp in The Sound of Music; and Barbara (Ba) in Estamos en el aire (We’re on the Air). Her enthusiasm and spirit also earned her the school’s first annual Greater Philadelphia Cappies Spirit Award.
Chelsea will attend University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences in the fall.
Good morning family, teachers, and friends. My name is Chelsea Cylinder, and I would like to thank you for coming to support the graduating class of 2013.
I first stepped inside of Friends Select’s brick walls in September, 2000, alongside several other wide-eyed kindergartners. We all looked around, completely mesmerized, as we entered our very first homerooms, and, though I did not realize it then, I can now say with certainty that this was the day that our class was born.
As a member of the thirteen-year-club, I have seen the class before your eyes transform. I have seen new people come and old people leave, and I must say that it is a special feeling to understand how we as a group evolved into who we are today. The group sitting before you consists of forty-nine loud, intelligent, crazy, funny, accepting, friendly, opinionated, and all-around fun people. We are all distinct individuals, but we are tied together tightly by a special bond. We have grown up together; we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we know how to deal with each other. In essence, we are siblings in one large family, and I would like to take this time to explain how.
Ideally, siblings always have each other’s backs. Siblings teach, argue with, talk to, and travel with each other. They make trouble together. They know that they can rely on each other for help and support. But most importantly, they just feel comfortable with each other, and this enables them to have fun together. This is the epitome of the class of 2013.
It is very commonplace to find people in our grade working with each other, teaching each other material, and in general, striving to help each other succeed. To give you some examples, I will never forget exchanging calls with a friend at midnight about one calculus problem to avoid failing a test the next day, or having three-way Skype calls to solve complicated physics problems.
But we’re not always so easygoing. There are plenty of times when we argue a lot, but that just reveals something very special about our grade: that we are able to tell each other what is on our mind at any time, and we know that no real repercussions will ensue.
I also love that I can walk up to any one of my classmates and have a genuinely good, fun conversation about anything. Nothing is forced with us. We are relaxed when we are together, and we are able to sit together, and frequently on top of each other, and just talk.
Next we, like siblings, have had unique traveling experiences together. Whether it was the lower school camping trips to Camp Onas, the middle school mini-vacations to Cape May and New York City, the ninth-grade rafting extravaganza, or the eleventh-grade adventures in Washington, D.C., our travels have brought us closer together. I specifically remember the eighth grade trip to New Mexico, as it was a turning point for me and for several others. On our last night there, we gathered together in the cramped lobby of a hostel for Meeting For Worship, and it started to hit us that it was one of the last times our grade would be sitting together, for in one month, many of us would be leaving for different high schools. I relate this sentiment to how I feel right now. As I stand before you, I cannot believe that this may be the final time that I will sit with my grade as a whole, that I may never be in a room with all of these people at once ever again.
There are so many aspects of my class that I will miss, but one that I will miss the most is all the fun that we have when we are together. Some of that fun goes along with getting in trouble, but when we get in trouble, we get in trouble together, and that has made for some pretty great memories over the past four years. And here are some examples. In ninth grade, we set the record for being the grade to go the longest without getting building leave. Ever. In Friends Select history.
Now that’s impressive. Since then, we have lost our building leave several times; it has become a pretty regular occurrence that we all have just learned to accept. In eleventh grade, after trashing the much-beloved junior alcove and then after ignoring the many warnings that we received from the entire upper school faculty to clean up, our favorite hangout was actually caution-taped off. And from the bright yellow tape, Wendy hung a note, which ended with, “you are close to losing this alcove! Love, Wendy.” And, this past year, we ruined our favorite blue couch after only a couple months of having it due to playing too many rounds of “How Many Seniors Can You Fit On The Couch?”
However, no matter what we did, we kept smiling and laughing because we knew that no consequence would be too much for our grade to handle, for we would support each other regardless of the situation.
In a family, support comes from siblings, but it also comes from the parents. Our family is no exception. We, kids, often rely on our teachers, the “parents” of our family. Our teachers have always been ready and willing to help us succeed with anything we do. They have helped develop us into the hard-working students that we are today, and we will forever be indebted to them. In the past four years, I have been pleasantly shocked to encounter teachers who would meet with me 15 times for one college essay. Or who would re-teach me material 10-20 minutes before I had to take a test on it. Or who would just be so enthusiastic about material that I would start to love it as well. And, in addition, it has always been so common to find teachers’ doors wide open for us to pop in and say “hi” and inform them of what’s new with us, and it is really nice to know that we have authority figures in our lives that care so much about us. We leave here knowing that when we come back to visit, they will be there to greet us with open arms.
I think I can speak on behalf of my entire class when I say that Friends Select School has become our home. Leaving is extremely hard and painful, and, after attending classes here for the past thirteen years of my life, I cannot face the fact that I won’t be coming back in September. This school will be missed greatly, but it has made an everlasting impact on all of us and will never be forgotten. We may be leaving Friends Select, but our time here together will never leave us. And that is because this school has given us something that we will cherish and forever be grateful for: a second family. A family full of lovable individuals with loads of different interests and goals, and Friends Select has shown us that we can successfully pursue whatever we want, that the sky’s the limit. For me, that has meant being able to perform in school plays, but for the person next to me, it could have meant being the captain of a sports team, or making computer programs, or painting pieces for an art show. We have all traveled down our own unique paths, but in the end, we have all ended up in the same place: in these benches before you waiting to receive a piece of paper saying that we have grown enough to go to the next phase of our lives. And the best part is that we got here together. Every day, we have grown closer together. And after each day for the past four years, we have become a tightly bound unit. We may move away and pursue different lifestyles, but if we reunite, we will just pick up where we left off, as if nothing ever changed. In that way, we are a unique, extraordinary group. The bond between us is strong, and I strongly believe that it can never be broken.