Closing Day - Head Prefect's Address

Friday, July 04, 2014 - By: Nick Wilson, Privett '14, Head Prefect

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’d like to begin by sharing an anecdote with you. At the very beginning of this year, I was trying to decide between calculus or physics. While trying out physics, I discovered that Mr. Tate had heard that I was trying to make a decision, and apparently he really wanted me to take physics. 

Anyway, here I was sitting in the front row of his class. In Mr. Tate’s class students fight for the front row seats. He then asks the class what we wanted to pursue in university. A couple of humanities hands went up, and then the rest engineering, surprise, surprise, being in a physics class. I think I put a shaky hand up and said something along the lines of biology. He nods at the hands, and then turns toward the white board, and writes down: social science. “Ok,” he says, “what are social sciences? Well, in fact they’re just applied psychology. Then what’s psychology? Well, that’s just applied biology.” While he says this, he just looks me straight in the eye for a moment. I think I realized then where he was going with this, and a grin spread across my face. So he continued. “Biology, what is it really? Isn’t it just the reaction of organic compounds in the cell? Sounds a lot like chemistry to me. And what’s chemistry? It’s the movement of electrons between different atoms and ions right? Hmm. Movement of electrons. Movement. That’s definitely physics.” By that time, Mr. Tate looks at me again, stares at me with an expression that seemed to say, “Well? Your move, Nick.” Totally won over, I had one of those moments where you can’t help yourself from smiling, and it was a big smile, ear to ear. That kind of moment is truly special. If I ever get the chance again to be so in awe and respect of a teacher or professor, I will be thoroughly impressed. And man, I’ll have picked the right school. 

I am thankful to say that this is one of many incredible moments that I have experienced at Brentwood. Happy, sad, funny, and embarrassing moments alike, these will forever be the memories we have of our high school days, and of our youthful stupidity. From helping our peers in times of need, to making a spectacle of ourselves on the bus ride back from Strathcona, from developing as school leaders to discovering the mystical powers of a photo booth at Grad, it is safe to say that we as a grad class have perfected the art of selective maturity.

Tying my Brentwood tie these last few weeks, I have only just realized that its four years of use has made it indented for every bend and fold needed to make it just the right length for me. I did some calculations, and I believe that I have tied it somewhere in the order of 200 times. Suddenly, four years at Brentwood seems like a very long time. But who am I to talk about long periods of time? Speak to Mr. Garvey about that. He really can go on for ages.

On a similar note, as parting students we must acknowledge the countless hours of legwork done by the faculty and staff to help us get here. To the administration, nurses, food services, maintenance, cleaning, and laundry staff for their hard work and service, we say an enormous thank you. To our teachers, coaches, instructors and houseparents, who not only have taken the term in loco parentis to a whole new level, but who have also been our mentors, counselors, and friends, we once again remind you of our gratitude and appreciation for all that you have done.

We, the graduating Class of 2014, will soon step out of the Brentwood Bubble into the world where no one can complain about the lack of protein in the salad bar, or the redundancy of day student sign in. These sweet days of easy living will soon have passed, so before we leave here today I urge not only the grads but also all of you attendance to stop and have a MacLeanian moment. Take a look around, smell the ocean air, and pause to reflect on how very privileged we are to be in this beautiful chapter of life in this special place. We thank you, parents, grandparents, family members, and donors, for providing us with the incredible opportunity to experience Brentwood, and for the love and support you have given us along our journey.

Finally, the students, my favourite part of Brentwood. There is too much to be grateful for, and I’ve already said enough, so I’ll close by saying that we came as strangers, and we leave as a family. To quote Tennyson’s “Ulysses”, we leave as 

“One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Thank you, Nicholas Wilson, Privett ‘14, Head Prefect

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