Lake Forest Academy 'Taught Me to be a True Citizen of a Community'
All-School President Casey Coulter delivers school's traditional 'Move Up' speech.
Good afternoon Dr. Strudwick, faculty and staff, parents and guardians, and fellow classmates.
I stand before you today humbled and extremely proud to be a part of the Lake Forest Academy family. And while it is my responsibility as All-School-President to deliver this speech, I can assure you that I am simply one voice among many capable voices.
So I tried to write today’s speech the way I wrote everything in High School: last minute, with the help of a few energy drinks, and of course, on my iPad, which I must say is the best thing to come to LFA since Sonia’s Snack Bar.
Unfortunately I had a slight setback, yesterday I had the iPad taken away from me and I’m still heartbroken. So before I put pen to paper, I prepared by reviewing great speeches: Abraham Lincoln….a little dated; Barack Obama…too much Change…Oprah Winfrey…a little too emotional, and finally, Stephen Colbert…. Maybe I’ll turn my speech into something along the lines of The Coulter Report??
OK who am I kidding. However, through the process I realized I was missing something they all have in common….a speech writer. So I apologize in advance if I lack those speech-writing capabilities, but I feel rather comfortable after practicing and bouncing my ideas off of my dog, Otis.
But on a more serious note, and before I start handing out advice to my peers, I just have to say, I cannot begin to thank Lake Forest Academy enough for everything it has done for me. I'm very grateful that here at LFA I never wasted any time trying to become somebody else's image of what I should be. It has taught me how to become a true citizen of a community and how to embrace the opportunities that are set in front of me.
For example, just last week, for the first time in four years, I went into the back of the Visual Arts Room in Upper Cressey and started making pottery, and Ms. Fowler said, and I quote. “This may be your true calling in life."
Now I later found out that it wasn’t, but nonetheless, it was the fact that I tried something new. However small or large these opportunities are, I encourage you to take them.
You have a responsibility to yourself. Every single one of you has something you excel at. Every single one of you has something you can offer, and you all have the responsibility to yourself to discover what that is and to enjoy it. As a freshman, I had no idea what I was good at. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and yes I will admit, I still don’t know for sure, but I have a much better idea because I took the opportunities LFA offered.
Without doing so, I may have not realized the potential that I had. You may be a good author – good enough to be the next Shakespeare - but you won’t know until you write that essay in your English class. Maybe you could be an inventor, maybe even good enough to solve the energy crisis, but you won’t know until you do a project for that science class.
Maybe you could be a senator, chief justice, or even a president, but you might not know until you run for student council. Don’t just stick with what you know, try something different, and maybe you will find something you would’ve never thought you could do.
What I can tell you today is what I have learned. What I discovered as a student at LFA. And that is this: you can’t do it alone. Often, other people’s ideas are going to be better than yours, so be open to collaboration. I can’t stress enough that the people around you are the people who make you who you are. Conan O’Brien once said, “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”
Now I’m going to give a little bit of advice to each individual class.
Freshmen: I gave some advice to you in the beginning of the year, as the typical scared freshman, but you all seemed to overcome that very quickly, from the upperclassmen’s perspective, too quickly. You still have a lot of high school ahead of you - Embrace it. Sure, I’m excited that tomorrow I will be done, but it is bittersweet. I will not be able to experience this community like yourselves for another three years, so like I said before, take advantage of the opportunities. Also, just a friendly reminder, try looking up from those iPads every once in a while, you’ll be amazed what you’ll be able to see. I’m sure Temple Run or whatever game you are all playing is awesome, but don’t forget that high school is about learning and experiencing it with the people around you, and no, playing a multiplayer game doesn’t count.
Sophomores: Well, you all have been waiting two years for some ounce of seniority in this school, and I guess you are finally receiving it as juniors, with a slight setback - it is junior year. You may be too glued to your textbooks to put into use some of the power you are going to gain. For instance, you’ve probably heard a million times, junior year is going to be hard. Yes it is true, it is going to make you work harder than you ever have before, but you are all ready for it. That is what the last two years have been preparing you for. Just remember to relax and have some fun every once in a while, but not too much fun, you still have to get into college.
Juniors: I’m sure every one of you is excited to be a senior. You have made it through junior year and have started looking at colleges. It may seem like a daunting task picking one school out of thousands of choices, but if you take the experience with an open mind, you can’t go wrong. The essays may be overwhelming at times, but just get them done early and you couldn’t be happier, any college counselor will tell you the same thing. As for second semester, I have come to the conclusion that it does not exist. You will have to work just as hard, whether you think so or not. Just find the motivation to finish out the year strong.
Seniors: We have in fact survived. Whether you’re going off to college, juniors, or wherever else you may end up next year, just enjoy it and don’t forget what LFA has done for you. Right now you may just want to graduate, but I’m sure every one of you will miss LFA. It has been good to us, so let’s be grateful. I wish all of you luck next year and I look forward to hearing about all of your future successes.
Congratulations to everyone for moving up! And I’d like to finish with two of my favorite quotes.
Dr. Seuss said: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
And finally, I’ll leave you with something simple Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”