Chapel Speeches for May 15 - June 1
Mark McCormick ’20: Mark shared with his class the story of a wonderful family Christmas tradition. Each year, 60-plus members of Mark’s family travel to Stella Niagara for the Christmas holiday. The weekend is crammed full of activities from various tournaments to a unique “Olympics” to an annual Christmas pageant, performed by all the cousins for their grandparents. This tradition has given Mark the opportunity to grow close to his beloved grandparents Seanmom and Abba and to build lasting memories of time with his family.
Aine O’Toole ’20: In another touching speech about grandparents, Aine spoke of the unique relationships she has with one grandmother who lives “25 seconds down the street,” with whom she spends a great deal of time, and with another set of grandparents who “still surprise” her by trying new adventures… such as riding the Tower of Terror at Disneyworld. Aine noted that she has a “special friendship” with her grandparents, as they have provided her a place to “get away” from the stress and the busyness of daily life.
Tom Hanna ’20: Tom took the occasion to honor a special grandparent in his life, his late grandfather, Barry McDonough. Tom spoke sincerely, even reverently, about the life and legacy of his grandfather, from his distinguished career in law to the way in which he was “always there” for people in need, no matter the circumstances. Tom recalled that before he died, his grandfather, who took tremendous pride and joy in all of his grandchildren, told his loved ones “to put family first,” and to trust that “God has a plan” for each of us.
Shanice Saint-Fleur ’19: Looking back on the extraordinary trip that she and her fellow students took to Italy last summer, Shanice marveled at how they were at once enjoying the latest flavors of gelato and witnessing the ancient ruins of Rome. Shanice was particularly impressed with the Vatican. Shanice concluded her reflection by noting how important it is for us to learn about and to immerse ourselves in other cultures so that we may both appreciate and celebrate these unique approaches to food, dance, language, and dress.
Connor Adams ’19: With self-effacing humor and humble honestly, Connor talked of how he has, somewhat reluctantly at first, been drawn into connecting with his classmates over the summer. As a result, Connor admitted, he went from “sitting at home” to engaging in various adventures with friends, including a trip into Boston on the 4th of July. Connor also acknowledged that quite often, all that he and his buddies did was “hang out,” but that taking the risk to accept the invitations from them has helped him to deepen his relationships.
Katie Honan ’19: Sharing with her classmates her love for the water and her passions for boating, Katie reflected on some of the adventures that she and her classmates had last summer—including one notable day on which they ran out of gas and had to be hauled in by the harbormaster. Katie quoted one of her favorite lines, found on a plaque in their house, “Home is where the anchor drops,” and encouraged her friends to find new ways to envision home. From fishing to swimming, Katie noted how we are all drawn to the water.
Olivia DeMarco ’19: Olivia spoke of fun and friendship, describing the day she spent with her classmates, first serving at the Allston Brighton Easter Egg Hunt and then just hanging out. Olivia volunteered with Shadi, Katie, and Tristan. They were assigned a variety of tasks, but the most notable for Olivia was their time serving as traffic guards, during which they did a little more dancing than directing traffic! Olivia noted at the end that no matter what we do, we should make sure we have true friends and cherish their great company.
Shereka Dauphine ’19: Shereka’s Chapel Speech focused on developing and improving our social views so that we might be able to form our own opinions on all of the issues we hear about today. As Shereka noted, when we are young we are often largely influenced by authority figures in our lives. She went on to say that education is the first step to making society better and it is important that her classmates educate themselves so that they might reach their own conclusions about the challenges facing our communities and our world.
Madison Murphy ’19: Madison reflected on a day that began with a broken finger in a basketball game… and ended with learning that her grandmother had suddenly passed. While saddened by the loss, Madison spoke of great memories she has of Nana Shirley, of her Disney-themed house, and of their trips to Disney—wheelchair and all! Madison ended by saying that we should not be upset when loved ones are lost; rather, we should rejoice that they are in a better place and that we have memories of them to keep with us always.
Gioia Guarino ’19: Gioia spoke of how much life has changed for her in these last two years, particularly in terms of taking on new roles and additional responsibilities. Noting that having a “real job” over the summer, where she learned to deal with both bosses and customers, has been a challenge, Gioia described how she has become more independent. Gioia reflected on how choosing to be Confirmed has also been a sign of maturity, along with managing to balance all of the academic and extra-curricular demands of life at SJP.
Kira Fernandes ’19: Celebrating that fact that travel has always been a part of her life, Kira listed off a wide array of places and countries that her family has visited. Kira chose to focus on a most adventurous trip to Cancun, where she experienced everything from the thrill of high altitude zip-lining to the terror of swimming near a waterfall. Kira encouraged her classmates to have an open mind and a brave spirit when it comes to new activities and opportunities, because if we let our fears overcome us, we risk losing out in the end.
Jack O’Dea ’19: In a most thoughtful and thorough speech, Jack spoke about one of the great heroes of his life—his grandfather. Jack spoke of his grandfather’s roots in Ireland, his exemplary career as a soccer and Irish football player, his strong work ethic, and his remarkable business success. Jack encouraged his classmates to follow his grandfather’s example—to push themselves, to discover their purpose in life, and to answer the “why” question for themselves, acknowledging that if all of this were easy, everyone would do it.
Elina Tong ’19: Admitting that there are all kinds of things we often do not want to do, Elina challenged her classmates to overcome their resistance to some of these “necessary” elements of life so that, in the long run, they will be happier. Elina creatively used the example of going to the dentist—a visit that she never likes to make—to illustrate that, over time, this little bit of “suffering” will result in a happier (and healthier) life. Elina concluded by asking us to sacrifice in the short term, because the law of “delayed return” is very real.
McKenzie Jennette’18: In one of the more insightful speeches of the year, focused on the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, McKenzie addressed the many ways in which we do not address mental health issues properly and honestly in our culture. Noting that Thirteen Reasons Why misrepresents some of the “causes” and “reasons” for suicide, and that it fails to provide resources and strategies for coping with depression, McKenzie challenged her class “to listen authentically” and to remove any stigmas we have around mental health.
Kelli Aquino ’18: Recalling a most terrible—and potentially tragic—moment in her life when she was struck by a car while walking across the street, Kelli bravely shared how she has made her return back to “normal” these last few months. With courage, grace, positivity, and even humor, Kelli recalled how she reacted to the women who hit her, how she responded to some difficult news from the doctors, and how she managed to keep up with school via Skype. Kelli’s gratitude to her classmates for their help and support was so heartwarming.
Julianna Parker ’18: In what was essentially a “good-bye letter” to her class, as Julianna and her family are moving to California this summer, Julianna offered a deeply, beautifully moving speech. Facing the challenge and emotion of this difficult transition with honesty, maturity, courage, and hope, Julianna thanked her classmates for their love and friendship. Julianna admitted that she will miss many things about SJP—especially her soccer sisters— but added that the memories and the relationships she has will be a part of her life forever.
Emily German ’18: Acknowledging that she was not exactly sure where to go with her third Chapel Speech at SJP, Emily chose to look back on her two previous reflections, and to provide a kind of “update” on how things have gone in her life since she delivered those speeches. Emily shared that her relationships with her two brothers have developed and changed, and that her friendship with her cousin—who is like a sister to her—is still very strong. Emily encouraged her classmates to be “open to evolving” at all stages in life.
Tahjay Thompson ’18
: In a most thoughtful and provocative speech, Tahjay chose to focus on the complex and compelling issue of education, and on how we must insist that the ways in which we educate young people keep pace with the rapidly changing times and the continually developing technologies. Extolling both students and teachers to take chances and to push the limits, and to move beyond the traditional methods of education, Tahjay noted that we have to emphasize creativity and innovation if we are to be successful.
Friday June, 9