Michael Green is the student body president at The Haverford School.
He presented his final speech to the Upper School at a traditional assembly where each Senior presents a Rosette pin to a rising Senior.
My dad once told me: “We deal with the cards we’re dealt.”
So far in life I’ve been dealt good cards and bad cards, I guess it depends what game I’m playing. But one of these cards is Haverford and my high school and educational experience.
Haverford is an Ace; it can either be the highest or lowest card. At the beginning of this year I asked everyone a question: “What do you want written on you gravestone?” I wanted “He lived” on mine. Haverford has taught me to live.
Our generation’s definition of “living” is rebelling, fighting for your rights, drinking, getting high, having sex, partying, dancing, doing something extraordinary … living life like it’s your last. But Haverford has taught me how to “really” live and how wrong this definition is. First of all I wouldn’t want to spend my last day by passing out in a pool of my own vomit then live my second last day with a massive headache wanting to go back to sleep but Lil’ John keeps screaming “Yeah” in my ear.
“Living” is confronting our fears, both big and small. From studying for a test to committing to a relationship to asking someone to prom to dealing with death, living is feeling. I’ve been depressed, happy, sad, joyful, tired, hyper, angry, good, bad, ugly, handsome, smart, stupid, miserable, satisfied, weird, extraordinary, athletic, nonathletic, immortal, suicidal, and contempt. I felt, I lived.
To the freshmen, next year you’re sophomores. The workload’s going to be bigger and you’re going to start narrowing down your friends. But, you’ll also start to face contradictions. You’re going to have to start dealing with people telling you all different things and you’ll get stuck and not know who to trust and who to follow. You might even be told a hundred different truths by one person, like in Dr. Ehrhart’s class when he makes you feel like an idiot and a genius at the same time. When this happens you have to think to yourself about all the information given to you and then you come up with your own conclusion. You become independent and start thinking for yourself. You get scared but you’re going to be all right.
To the sophomores, you’re going to be upper classmen next year. Junior year is, for most people, the toughest year adjustment and workload wise because you get pressures from everyone around you. You have to find time to think alone. Not time to relax or take your mind off of work or whatever else, but you have to find time to just stop and think. Think about everything going on in your life, it’s your chance to stop time. You get scared but you’re going to be all right.
To the juniors, you got the best and worst year ahead of you. You’re the leaders of this school, so this means that you influence everyone. From the little kindergarteners and pre-kindergarteners to the teachers and the administration. You have a lot of responsibility and it’s your last year so make sure you make memories. It’s a scary process, but you’re going to be all right.
Haverford is a special place, and I’m going to miss it. I’ve grown up here and the teachers here have been some of the most important mentors and influences of my life. So, to the teachers thank you for disciplining me, for teaching me, for mentoring me, for letting me out of class early on Black Jack burger days, for entertaining me, for being my friend, and for loving me. I hope that you have learned as much as you’ve taught.
When I was worried about being the president this year, Dr. Cox [Headmaster] took me out to lunch and gave me some valuable advice I’ll never forget. He told me “People crap on my desk; I clean it up; they thank me, then crap on my desk again.” So I asked him: why do you keep doing what you do? He looked at me, and without missing a beat; he smiled and said, “Because we love these people.” Dr. Cox, thank you for everything you’ve done for me since I was 6; and thank you for everything you’ve done for everyone you’ve ever met. I got you this pooper-scooper to help you out with whatever else you have to clean up. We love you and always will.
I have to thank one person who works harder than anyone I know. She’s an amazing woman, and was my best friend this year. She helped me out with more things than she should’ve but I love her for how amazing she is. She helps all of us from students to Mr. Green [Head of the Upper School], Ms. Kasmen [Assistant to Head of the Upper School] is an incredible woman who doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation for all she does.
Finally, my classmates, my friends, my boys: Class of 2013. I heard this quote in a movie: “Have fun exploring the infinite abyss.” We’ve had an incredible time at Haverford whether it’s been 14 years or two, we are all and will always be Fords and brothers of the class of 2013. And, I know we’re brothers because we hate each other and we fight, but we also love each other and stand up for one another. I love each and every one of you. Thank you for everything. And I know we’re scared for what’s ahead of us, I definitely am, but I know that because I’m graduating Haverford, I’m good. I’m scared but I’m also confident.
So, we made our memories here, we left our mark, and we took advantage of every opportunity given to us, we did everything we could and now it’s our turn to go have fun exploring the infinite abyss.