A Valediction

Friday, June 26, 2020 - By: Kenton Laurion, Rogers ‘20

Hello, family, friends, faculty, staff, students, Grads and Grade 8s. Today, I have the honour of representing the Graduating Class of 2020 on our final day as Brentwood students. It’s been a wild past few months in virtual lockdown, and, honestly, this was never how I saw myself finishing my high school career, but just as we’ve all made the most of Zoom classes, I will make the most of this honour today.

Through all of this craziness, we did it! All the challenges, relationships, and late nights have led us to this moment; all the work that we have done, grads, has not gone unnoticed. The Graduating Class of 2020 is one of great strength, compassion, perseverance, and unrivalled angelic looks. Grads, today marks the beginning of adulthood and the responsibility that comes with it. We survived the ups and downs of adolescence: all the awkward social interactions and hormone-fuelled blunders on the MT. Today, we leave that all behind and carry the experiences and relationships we’ve made forward to the next chapter of our lives.

But we weren’t always the impressive, wise senior students we are now. Four years ago, I arrived at Brentwood as a big-boned, loud, and immature boy. I remember saying my goodbyes with my mom on the first day of orientation. As she prepared to leave, I walked up to her car to say farewell, and in my head, I was screaming, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Everyone’s looking.” My mom started with her goodbyes -- “Ok, well…” -- her eyes swelling and lip quivering. Before another word came out, I had to run; I left the old woman in the dust. And from then on, Brentwood, I never looked back. I realized either you’re in or you’re not -- I was in.

To make the most of the  Brentwood experience, going “all in” is the best way to maximize the opportunities presented. I don’t mean to say I’ve been an ideal student or even an ideal person, but I have grown tremendously during my time here thanks to my decision to immerse myself in the Brentwood community. Over the years, I have been captivated by the people I met -- each person with his or her own story, hailing from a variety of countries around the world and contributing to the richness of my experience at Brentwood. My fellow classmates are some of the most sincere and genuine people I have ever met (good job, parents) and I thank all of you for the lessons you taught me and the good times we shared. From the fun times with the boys, dabbling in our room, to sacrificing a single unlucky crab to the sun gods in times of never-ending rain. From the first awkward Snowball to the second awkward Snowball, to the third awkward Snowball… (you get the point), to jumping so viciously to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” that the Alex House floor gave way, to even just chilling in the lounge, every single chaotic moment lingers in my head as I speak to you all today.

In many ways, saying goodbye is bittersweet: I wish we could’ve spent these last four months together, saying our goodbyes in person on this final day. These unprecedented circumstances have helped me appreciate some of Mr Prokopchuk’s wise advice: “Time is your greatest asset.” I knew he was right at the time, but his words never resonated as much as they do now. The finite time we endured together at Brentwood was precious and we owe this experience to the wonderful guidance of our houseparents and teachers who have demonstrated a truly unrivalled commitment to the students they serve. Behind the scenes, invaluable support staff have kept the gears of Brentwood’s gears turning, looking out for us and remaining integral members of our community along the way. From the dining hall to laundry services, to the groundskeepers to many, many more, we thank you for your service. And, of course, I would be remiss not to thank the administrative staff and leadership team who continue to oversee the success of our community that will serve students, present and future.

Last, but certainly not least, here’s to my fellow Grads. Today, we stand before the world with equal potential, heading off to various university programs around the world . So just like a mama bird must release her chicks into the wild, Papa Patel is pushing us out of the nest. Now comes to the real test where we either fly or fall, and I have no doubt the Graduating Class of 2020 will soar to unprecedented heights as we leave Brentwood’s metaphorical gates, overcoming the adversity of this past term.  William W. Purkey once said, "You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like there's nobody listening, and live like it's heaven on earth." So, my fellow grads, it’s time to take flight and journey to new horizons. I wish all of you the best.

Kenton Laurion, Rogers ‘20

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