Farewell Brentwood

Thursday, June 27, 2019 - By: Lulu Jama, Allard ‘19; Photo by Paul Fletcher

Below is the text of the speech delivered by Head Prefect Lulus Jama, Allard ' 19 on Cloising Day, June 21, 2019.

On September 3rd, 2016, I strolled onto this campus as a new student without fear or excitement, I was simply indifferent. My older sister showed me around and then we arrived here at Crooks Hall where Mr. Patel was standing by the dinner line greeting the returning students. “Hello” “Welcome back” “Good to see you” “Hope you had a good summer”... the usual. 

Finally, my sister and I were close enough to him that we were able to make eye contact. He came towards me and gave me a great big hug and said “Welcome back sweetheart, it’s good to see you again.” I paused and thought “Uhh okay strange man that I don't know”. Right after me, he embraced my sister. It was then that a lightbulb went on in his head and he realized that he hugged someone who looks a lot like me. “Oh ... I hugged the wrong one didn’t I?” he pondered. Of course I chuckled and responded “No worries sir, it happens all the time.” From that day, my first impression of Brentwood was set, ugh this is gonna happen all the time. I’m just going to be Balqees’ little sister. And who is this fool anyway? Needless to say, I found out he was the Head of School rather quickly. 

That aside, what I should have noticed from the get go, rather than his awkward mistake, was Mr Patel’s immediate instinct to give me a hug. Granted, he technically didn’t mean to give me a hug, but I was hugged nonetheless. As the months went on, I began realizing the culture at Brentwood where the staff and faculty are not only ours educators and caretakers, but also ours friends and mentors. Brentwood can be unique in that way, but everyone thinks their school is unique in that way. Just listen to every valedictorian speech ever, the only thing that will make Jaylynn’s speech more bearable to sit through is if she just doesn’t speak at all. 

So, what is Brentwood truly unique for? The fact that we are a social experiment to see what a bunch of sexually charged teenagers would do in a confined space? Yeah probably, but the students know what Brentwood really is. It is a place where kids complain about the food that can probably feed my entire tribe back in Somaliland. A place where rolling kilts and wearing socks at the ankle is a civil rights movement. Where there’s a thing called “cookie break” and people still wonder why they got the freshman 15 in highschool -- A school in which their students’ gmail inboxes are primarily filled with emails from reception asking if anyone has seen little Suzy’s airpods. In those regards, Brentwood is unique. 

On day one, kids arrive confused and afraid but end up coping with it well. With the help of our amazing Health Centre staff, the school counsellors, the endlessly supportive teachers, the extraordinary catering staff, our talented groundskeeping and facilities team, the hardworking housekeeping team, the wonderful ladies in laundry services, and the dedicated house staff, we have been given every avenue possible to succeed. So for that, we cannot thank you enough. To the administrative staff, we quite literally would not be here without you, and I personally want to thank you for accepting my bribes. Before leaving, I am instructed to impart to the students some advice moving forward so prepare yourselves for some 18 year old wisdom.

To the Grade 8s going into Grade 9, get ready for the beginning. Everything and everyone will be new to you, but go out of your way to make new friends because you never know whose parents are millionaires. To the Grade 9s embarking on a new adventure in Grade 10, hold on to those millionaire friends (if they’re good people of course), and secondly, don’t stress about school. The amazing thing about Grade 10 is that it is a year of your life you can spend just figuring out what you enjoy, so take full advantage of that. For you Grade 10s going into Grade 11, this is your year to really crack down on time management because sometimes you can’t watch Netflix for 4 consecutive hours every day for nearly a week. I found that out the hard way. People say it is the hardest academic year in highschool, but only you can determine that.

To you poor Grade 11s who will be taking on the burden of leadership roles next year, good luck. It truly is a blessing in disguise, but your ultimate goal should be to set the tone in the school because you'll be the trend setters. You’lI miss us when we’re gone until you realize that you’re probably doing a better job than us already. And now, to my favourite cohort in the school - the adults - listen up. 

#1) Get rid of all those dried out white board markers that have been lounging there since 2009. Stop trying to use them, realize they’re dry, get mad at the last teacher who left them there, who put them right back on the board. This seems like a universal issue. And #2) When you’re showing us a Youtube video in class, please stop torturing students and move the cursor off the screen. We don’t need to watch each second of the video go by making the video feel slower than it already is. I recognize your generational difficulty with technology, but please watch a tutorial or something.

To some, the year has felt like a million, to others it felt like a second, but know that this is the end of another year at Brentwood, we’ll one day look back and think, “Wow, I went there.” Some of us will have that thought pretty soon, and there are some in the audience likely thinking the same thing. And I’ll be honest, I’ll miss this multi-racial Brady Bunch of a family. I’ll miss my 2nd family, maybe more than my first. I’ll miss the 7 am bell waking me up every morning only to fall back asleep and arrive late to class. I might even miss the 5 sign ins we used to have as juniors on Sundays for unknown reasons. I’ll remember you all in my long years of therapy yet to come. But instead of thinking about what I’m leaving behind, I’m excited for the future. Finally, I don’t have to go to the same school as my little brother anymore. It’s bitter-sweet, I’ll admit. I’ll miss bothering you, kid.

So students, we made it. Parents, we’re sorry you’re broke now, and teachers, you’re probably thankful  for some of us finally getting out of your hair. In the wise words of Mrs Felix, “Do ordinary things to make extraordinary changes.” I have never heard truer words. 

Be bold Brentwood, Head Prefect, O U T. 

Lulu Jama, Allard ‘19

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