Head Prefect's Address

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - By: Alejandro Godin Gonzalez, Head Prefect 2017; Photo by Ian McPherson

Good afternoon family members, friends, staff, faculty, fellow Brentonians, and graduating class of 2017.  

As Mr. Patel mentioned, this year I had the greatest honour of being Brentwood’s Head Prefect, and I want to start off today by saying thank you, to all of you that believed in me and gave me the opportunity to be your Head Prefect.

Part of being in my position means meeting many people who want to know more about the school, and over this past year I got asked the same questions over and over and over again. One question in particular: “What is the one thing that makes Brentwood so special or great?”

I absolutely hate this question.

Not because I don’t think that Brentwood is great, but rather because it is impossible to find the one thing that makes this place so special, as greatness is not one thing done to perfection, but a collection of small things done right, consistently.   

After digging deep down to find the right answer to the question, I came to one conclusion, and it is something that Valentin Eisenberg, a one year wonder student from Germany, told me before he left Brentwood last year: “The thing about Brentwood is that nowhere in the world is there another place like this”.

What makes this school so special is not only our tripartite students, but our very tri-partite teachers. It is Mr. Smith’s dad jokes during a derivatives unit and Mr. Bryant’s university tips halfway through a class on acids and bases. It is the maintenance staff decorating the campus according to the season and the cafeteria staff going out of their way to make ethnic dinners. It is the SAC, SPARC, the BEAT, and all the student-run groups and events. It is our beautiful ocean-front campus and the ability to do everything you want without having to get in a car or even plan an activity with your friends. It is the people you meet from all over the world and the family-like relationships that you make with your friends in less than a year.

And for all of that and much more that I couldn’t fit in here, I’d like to say thank you. THANK YOU to the supporting staff for always going above and beyond to make this campus what it is. THANK YOU to the faculty and teachers for passing down your years of wisdom (in some of your cases many many years). THANK YOU to the Admissions team and parents because without you none of us would be here today. THANK YOU to the students for making this year one of smiles, success and emotion, and THANK YOU, Brentwood, because I gave you four years of my life, but you gave me a lifetime of opportunities, friendships, and memories.

I would also like to personally thank my house parents, Shem, Mr. Wismer, and Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Patel for their leadership and guiding me into the right path and never expecting from me less than I expected from myself.

And lastly to the most important people in my life: my family. A huge thank you to my brother Santiago who is here and my sister Mariana who unfortunately couldn’t make it today. Ever since I can remember, I have aspired to be just like you and I can honestly say that even though we get compared a lot to see who is ‘better’ I could never be who I am without you. Lastly, thank you to my mom and dad. None of this would have been possible without you and I hope you know that everything I do is to make you proud.

I think I can speak for all the grad class in saying that today will go down in our books a one of the most bittersweet days of our lives, and it’s crazy to think that today is the last day we set foot on this campus as students. Although it is now time for us to leave our Brentwood family, I can most confidently leave knowing that it will always remain in our hearts and that it will be left in good hands.

This year, one of my biggest goals as Head Prefect was to say something meaningful during assemblies, and so, De Manu En Manum, I’d like to leave you with the top 3 + 1 things I learned at Brentwood:

1.     Life is a game of inches

Sometimes stress can take over our lives in this busy place, so take things bit by bit and always remember that the most important moment of your life is the very next one. That will help you tackle big tasks without them feeling as big tasks. As Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday, live life “One inch at a time”, because “The inches we need are everywhere around us”.  

2.     The best things in life are on the other side of your fears

Get out of your comfort zone! Especially here, I mean you have so many opportunities to try new things and before you know it is your last term at school and you regret not doing so many of them. So, as Will Smith once said, “Forget security, live for experience”, and you’ll find that each day becomes a little more fun.

3.     Be like Kirk – for those of you who don’t know Kirk is Mr. Neufeld’s son.

This one is especially for the soon-to-be Grade 12s, but not exclusively. Last month Mr. Neufeld told us about when he asked Kirk what he wanted to be when he grew up. He quickly responded: “I want to be Kirk”. Just like Kirk, focus on WHO you want to be instead of WHAT you want to be when you grow up.

Now, the most important thing I’ve learned at Brentwood, by far, is that it doesn’t matter how bad you want something, how much you are willing to sacrifice for it, or how much others around you guide you in the right path, at the end of the day no one is going to do the work for you. I can give you advice, your teachers can tell you what to do, your parents can show you the way, and so many other people can help you, but if YOU don’t take action and go get what you want it will simply not happen. But if you do, that’s when you’ll notice the change.

Thank you Brentwood, see you soon.

Alejandro Godin Gonzalez, Head Prefect 2017

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