Senior breakfast speech: Mrs. Satterthwaite encourages students to be present in the moment


Julia Satterthwaite, Adviser

It seems fitting for me to talk with you today because, as many of you know, my family is moving to California this summer to chase our dreams of warmer weather and smaller class sizes, so this is OUR last year as Falcons.

It’s bittersweet, for the walls of this place have fundamentally shaped me, as they have shaped you. I’ve become a stronger, more confident, more passionate individual not just because of this place, but also because its students.

Can I ask you to stand if you had me as a teacher at some point in your high school career? Wow. Hold on, I’m going to take a photo so I can remember all of your beautiful faces. [TAKE PHOTO]

I’m really going to miss you all. I mean it.

The one thing that stands out about your class in particular is your sense of humor, and I’ll miss laughing with you …
-when Socratic discussions got heated or flat-out awkward
-when your class won the tug of war competition year after year
-when I had a ton of students suddenly “need to use the bathroom” during third hour last semester during the phone prank when word got out that phones were being confiscated
-when I judged Mr. Rochester and laughed hysterically at the talents, pick-up lines and question and answer portions
-when the tardy policy was introduced

Man, we’ve been through a lot, haven’t we? We’ve laughed together AND learned together.

Speaking of learning, at this time I’d like to give you a recap of our RHS literary journey and the hidden wisdom within the pages you tackled.

FRESHMAN YEAR kicked off with a unit about facing monsters and how it can be scary, but it’s worth it to confront challenges head on.
The Odyssey taught us how hubris or ego can create complications.
Lord of the Flies taught us to be aware of the civil and the savage within ourselves.
Speak taught us to talk to someone and ask for help if we’re going through something difficult.
Romeo and Juliet taught us about young love, the importance of communication, and the impact suicide makes on those you leave behind.
To Kill a Mockingbird taught us to step into another person’s shoes before passing judgement.

SOPHOMORE YEAR was about what it means to be an American.
The Declaration of Independence taught us about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and that all people should be treated equally.
“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” taught us to learn from our past mistakes.
“The Devil and Tom Walker” taught us what goes around comes around.
“The Raven” taught us to not allow our lonely, depressed selves to take over and drive us mad.
Emily Dickinson taught us that we should appreciate simplicity, be hopeful, and not fear death.
Walt Whitman taught us that we should celebrate our individuality and our wonderful democracy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau taught us that we can find clear answers in nature.
The Crucible, which was an allegory about the Red Scare and McCarthyism in case you missed that, taught us to question authority instead of allowing fear to dominate.
Fahrenheit 451 taught us about the importance of books and the danger of ignorance … and flame-throwers.
A Raisin in the Sun taught us that following our hearts and dreams isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it.

JUNIOR YEAR focused on standardized testing. [PAUSE] Just kidding, it actually was about assimilation, yet also provided the freedom of choice in selecting literature electives.
The Catcher in the Rye taught us about the fear of growing up and to make sure we don’t turn into phonies.
Night taught us about the tragic violence that occurred in concentration camps during WWII. We must constantly be vigilant that history does not repeat itself.

SENIOR YEAR was about making it to the finish line, as well as preparing for the next stage of your lives.
The Glass Castle taught us to be resilient and to choose happiness. YES, it’s a choice that you get to make every day, even if your dad’s a drunk, your mom’s a wacky artist and you sleep in a cardboard box.

So, after all of the wonderful lessons these texts and authors have taught us, what could I possibly have left to impart?

Be present in the moment.

You’ve spent countless hours preparing for the “real world,” which is kind of a giant myth. You’re already living in the real world. Your two feet are on this Earth and it’s spinning. And we only get so many spins around the sun, so live in the present. Yes, set long-term goals, but don’t always place your entire focus on the distant future.

I’ll be happy when I graduate from high school.
I’ll be happy when I get a girlfriend or boyfriend.
I’ll be happy when I get an internship.
I’ll be happy when I graduate from college or technical school.
I’ll be happy when I find a job.
I’ll be happy when I get my dream home and/or my dream car.
I’ll be happy when I find a husband or a wife.
I’ll be happy when I have kids.
I’ll be happy when my kids grow up a bit.

STOP IT. BE HAPPY NOW. Be happy today. This IS your “real world,” so enjoy each moment as it comes.

The great Albus Dumbledore warns Harry Potter in the first book that “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Don’t forget to live. And to live in the present.

And while you’re living in the present, I’d encourage you to be kind (it’s really not that hard), be optimistic (it’s a daily choice you have to make), and to be open to new experiences and meeting new people (remember your vibe attracts your tribe).

Life gets exponentially harder as your responsibilities increase, but it also gets exponentially better. We’re leaving this place and will need to face our fears, put ourselves in other’s shoes, determine when it’s appropriate to assimilate and when it’s best to stand out, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’ve got this.

I’d be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t terrified about picking up my family and moving across the country, and I suspect some of you also secretly feel this way about whatever next year entails, but I, but WE, can do it. RHS has prepared us for the scary unknown and it will always have a piece of my heart, as it will yours. I’ll always be proud to be a Falcon and I hope you will too.

But back to the present. Enjoy the rest of your senior breakfast. Your senior walk. Your prom. Your graduation. Your summer. Each and every single day, be present, and enjoy it.

Thank you.