By Adam Philie ’13
I want to thank all of you for trusting me with representing our class. I really hope I don’t butcher it. So I haven’t done too much public speaking at Deerfield and when I asked around for some advice, all I got was be funny, be funny. I’m not really a jokester, so that’s just tough luck I guess.
So standing here today is a weird experience for me. I am not really sure how I feel about this whole graduation thing. I think Ms. Creagh hit the nail on the head with her most recent email reprimanding our class. She wrote “You’re ready to leave, but you don’t want to go. You love this place, but you’re feeling claustrophobic. This is your home, but you can’t wait to move on.” It differs for each one of us, but in some way we will all miss this place. The change that lies ahead of us makes me a little scared and I’m not sure it is time to leave.
So first, I want to focus on the past, on Deerfield and on high school, which for Jordan Prizant lasted a total of seven years.
My older brother taught me to appreciate this community. He graduated in ’09 and just got a job in the Athletic Office here for next year, and in some ways I envy him in that he gets to experience this community again. I think all of us can look back and appreciate this community in some way. Not everyone here had a smooth ride, but I am certain in some way we were all shaped by this community. We have all been through it here. We haved shared experiences, whether they are the bonfire, the river, watching Dr. Curtis chase after her dog who you saw taking off to Greenfield five minutes earlier.
From these experiences, we are all connected. In the next few years, some of us will become close, some of us will grow apart, we may live near eachother, talk often, or completely lose touch, Montour may go to prison…No matter what happens in the upcoming years, that bond that we have will always be there. Through all of the change that we are going to encounter, that bond will be constant.
Remember the connections we made here, with the faculty, with our peers, with this campus. The experience we had here will not be remembered with snapshots of fun times. The experience we had will live on through the relationships and connections we formed. I urge you in these last couple hours to truly look to the hills, to establish a final connection with this natural place. Some day it will be these relationships, these connections that will be the sole link to our high school selves, the sole link to our time here in this magnificent place.
Now before I stop talking about the past and look to our future, I want to leave you with the final few lines of a poem that has come to mean a lot to me. It is called “At Deerfield” by Jack Graves, and it ends like this:
I took care to take note of the
and the school that rested in it, of
which were brushed on in not-
quite pink, not-quite
salmon, of the wind that was
unseasonably warm and
seductive, of the still light in an old
ground I came upon soon after that
still more green playing fields.
The burial ground held me.
I felt akin to lives lived more than
ago, to lives lived long, to lives cut
felt for the first time in my life on
that prizes experience, tears
and I wanted to ask some of the
students who were
passing innocently by if they knew
blessed the were,
how lucky they were to be able,
for a time, to take their ease in
and on those fields, in that
In the embrace of the moment,
they would have
thought I was touched, and indeed
I had been.
How blessed were they.
How blessed was I.
Never forget how blessed we have been.
When I think of leaving here, I think of that poem. I think of Choate Day, I think of hearing the Mellow-D’s and the Rapso-D’s at a warm spring school meeting. I think of spring KFC and Spring Day. I think of all of you in my class who made this place my home. I think and I get a little worried, a little sad, a little stagnant. Mr. Heise gave us important advice at our baccalaureate. He said something along the lines of, “Do not be held back by nostalgia” and “move forward into the dimly lit future”
Even if security has to pry Grant Fletcher from the Main School Building steps, we are all going to have to move on physically by 4 pm this afternoon. We have to accompany that physical movement with a mental one as well.
Move forward, have confidence, and act deliberately. We hear all the time about how well prepared we are. If we made it to this Commencement, we have had to have learned something. If this happens to be our second graduation, Ahmed, we most likely didn’t learn enough the first time. Regardless, we have been given a box full of tools from this great place. With these tools we will be able to take that next step and make decisions on our own. Go at it confidently. Be passionate and use the tools we have been given to make choices that you feel are best. That is not to say every choice is going to be the correct one. When we make the wrong choice, let us look to ourselves first. Use the versatility and perseverance that this campus has nurtured in us, and move forward.
Have faith in this school. In turn, you will have faith in yourself to make the right decisions.
My father always tells me to make a difference. Like I said, we have the tools, use them. Jr. always says it. This place is a place of leaders, every single kid here has leadership qualities. Make an impact, make a difference every single day. Be worthy of your heritage, of Deerfield, and be a leader.
While I envy my brother because next year he will return, as he has dreamed of doing since he left, I also know that it will not be the same. No matter how much he wants it to be so, he will not arrive back on campus and return to his days of glory. Those days only come once. Now, sitting here at this ceremony, with but a few more hours until departure, we are being told that our days of glory are done….
Guys, I hope you look back on them fondly, I know I will. Thank you