An Ellis House Lifer

Saturday, July 25, 2020 - By: Derek Yu, Ellis ‘20

The following was delivered at the Lifers’ Dinner in late May, 2020.

If there is one thing I hate in this world, it is public speaking. But when Mr Wismer asked me to do the Ellis Lifers’ speech, I accepted it with no doubt because I want all of you to know how important you are to me. If you know me, you probably know I don’t talk much nor do I show much emotion. I have been a quiet and introverted kid for as long as I can remember. It was hard for me to express myself through words.

But the past four years at Brentwood have changed me, it has helped me find my way of self-expression which is fashion and art. The diverse and supportive Brentwood programs have transitioned my passion into a career. Special shout out to Mr Luna for being such a good mentor who guided me throughout the process. But more important than the programs are the people that surround me. You are truly the ones that give me the courage and confidence to pursue what I love. Out of all these people, Ben R, Pete, the O’Malleys, and Gus were alongside me from the start to the end. You guys all have such a special place in my heart. I think it is only right that I do a little speech for every single one of you.

Ben R, was my Grade 9 roommate, and is my current neighbor. I have to be honest, we weren’t super close in grade 9 but that’s probably because I didn’t understand those wise words that were coming out of your mouth. It wasn’t until later when I realized how smart and talented you are at literally everything. You really are such an intellectual and I am so happy to be able to call you one of my best friends.

Pete, my grade 11 roommate, and my teammate on the basketball court. It is still so hard for me to believe how much you’ve grown both in height and your skills in basketball. I still remember when we were in grade 10 and you told me you wanted to make the basketball team next year, at first I thought you were just talking big but soon you proved me wrong with your outstanding work ethic. I’m so proud of your achievements and I know you are going to do big things in the future.

Liam O’Malley, was my grade 9 and grade 12 roommate. I still remember when I first met you in grade 9 when you ran into our room and dropped your bag in the corner without a word and then ran back out again. I still find that self-introduction quite strange. But you have changed a lot since grade 9: you’ve become one of the most mature and calm people I know. I know I can always depend on you and I am glad I had you on my side for the past years.

Ben O’Malley, my old day student, and Liam's little brother. We have been through so much together, from us rooming in grade 10 and 11 to Charity Work Day at your mom's place and even sleeping over at your house. Although I do get mad at you sometimes for borrowing my clothes, I always have so much fun when I’m with you. You are a good friend and a great person, I am so pleased to spend my past four years with you.  

Gus. You remember on the first day of grade 9, when we were waiting in line to the cafeteria?  You asked me if I played any video games and that’s how we started our friendship. Out of all of the Lifers, I think you and I changed the most throughout the years. Not only did your hair grow out, but your attitude and perspective towards things have also matured in different ways. You were there for me throughout the entire journey and I wouldn’t have become who I am today without you.

It is hard for me to truly express how much I appreciate each one of you through words: you guys are my family and I miss you every single day. To the teachers, coaches, houseparents, and staff thank you for making Brentwood such a great learning and living environment; you are the ones that make all of this possible. Although my Brentwood journey is going to end in an unusual way, the good memories from the past four years are the ones that I will take away with me.

I’m so glad I have all of you as part of my life. You will be missed. Thank you.

Derek Yu, Ellis ‘20

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