Students Speak

Culture, Mt. Vernon, Students Speak

Center Stage From a 4th Grade POV

5 Written by: | Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014 3:00pm

2014-03-12 19.24.30

Last week, I went to Center Stage to see Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night.  I’ve been to plays at other theaters, like the one at Goucher College and the Chesapeake Arts Theater, but it was my first visit to Center Stage.  I didn’t really know what to expect, since the play wasn’t written for kids. Read More →

Featured, Schools, Students Speak

Boys’ Latin Senior DJ Willoughby Delivers Moving Elegy in Memory of his Best Friend

14 Written by: | Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:00pm

DJ Willoughby shown with Gina Molling, Boys' Latin theater artistic and managing director; and Charles Franklin, Upper School assistant head & dean of students.

DJ Willoughby shown with Gina Molling, Boys’ Latin theater artistic and managing director; and Charles Franklin, Upper School assistant head & dean of students.

At Boys’ Latin, the mandatory senior speech is a long-held tradition that each student develops, prepares, and delivers to the entire upper school. Some are funny; many are reflective. Then there was DJ Willoughby’s speech, a searing poem-slash-personal note to the mother of his best friend and former Boys’ Latin classmate, Zakary Aaron Osiris DeGross, who died from cancer at the tender age of 14.

DJ’s speech, which seemed to tumble out from somewhere deep down inside of him, profoundly affected the entire student body. “It was such a powerful speech delivery that shook the entire school,” recalled Gina Molling, Boys’ Latin Theater Artistic and Managing director. “There was not a dry eye in the house.”  With DJ’s permission, we re-print his speech below. EH

This is a poetic letter addressed to the Ms. Leslie DeGross.  In loving memory of my fellow classmate, friend, and brother, Zak DeGross.  It is entitled, “I Can Only Imagine.”

How do you live when you lose the person you can’t imagine living without?  I can only imagine that your days are plagued with doubt and disbelief? I can only imagine that each day falls down aimlessly like an autumn leaf?  I can only imagine that your days are cold even in July heat?  I can only imagine that grief sucks the life out of you slowly and unknowingly, like a leach?  I can only imagine that death grips your stomach so tightly that you can barely speak.  I can only imagine that the road to recovery is narrow and sleek.  I can only imagine that your eyes are heavy because the closest thing to death is sleep.  I can only imagine that your night air is saturated with noises and voices, of which you hear every peep.  I can only imagine that when you see my face, time collapses on space.  I can only imagine that you see flashes and split second images of his future that was limitless.  I can only imagine that my eyes are painstaking reminders.  School rings on fingers are splinters in your heart.  Everything I am and will be reminds you of everything he could have been and should have been.  Read More →

Schools, Students Speak

Students Speak: BMS Senior Abigail Mendoza on Being First-Generation Filipino-American

0 Written by: | Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:00pm

This week, we continue to share select speeches written by seniors from local private schools. The following speech is re-printed with permission from its author, Abigail Mendoza, a senior at Bryn Mawr who is excited to become a proud Terp at the University of Maryland, College Park this fall where she plans to major in Computer Engineering. Abbey, the only Bryn Mawr senior of Filipino descent, writes about what it’s like to be a first generation Filipino-American citizen. – EH 

Abbey MendozaMy name is Abigail Mendoza. My first name is Hebrew, my last name is Hispanic, yet I am a first generation Filipino-American. Nineteen years ago, my parents moved to the U.S. to provide better lives for their future family. Although I have only visited my homeland as a baby, my parents and relatives that live in America have exposed me to Filipino culture throughout my lifetime. However, because I grew up here, there are many aspects of the Filipino culture that are just not part of my lifestyle and probably never will be.

For one thing, I can’t speak the main language, Tagalog, to save my life. I know some expressions and I can understand it in conversation, but I cannot speak it fluently. Learning Spanish at school has helped me a lot with Tagalog, since many of the words have similar meanings. And as much as I want to be fluent in the language, it’s nice to know that some Filipinos think I don’t understand what they’re saying, when I actually do. Over the years, being able to at least understand Tagalog has proven to be my secret weapon. Read More →

Featured, Schools, Students Speak

Gilman Senior Zane MacFarlane on Life’s “Magic Moments”

1 Written by: | Friday, May 24, 2013 1:06pm

Every year, we invite local high school seniors to share with us their senior speech, a tradition at many local private schools where a student addresses the student body on a subject of his or her choice. Today we feature the speech of Gilman School Senior Zane MacFarlane. Zane is senior class president and played the lead role of Joe (Boyd) Hardy in the recent musical production of “Damn Yankees.” He will attend Pomona College in the fall.  Chirp, Zane.- The Eds.

Zane MacFarlane

Zane MacFarlane

The drums were slow at first as they ran around outside, “Dum, dumdumdum, Dum, dumdumdum…” Meanwhile in my cabin, I was lying down on top of my bunk bed, staring at the rafters. It was my third year at Camp Virginia, a place I loved and returned to every summer, and tonight the honor council – the most respected group of campers – were going around, inducting the newest members to their society. The process of induction was called “tapping.” It was a big deal at camp to get tapped, and I thought tonight was my night. The drums got faster and faster as you could hear the kids running around, circling every cabin, until they gathered in the center of the field. The drums stopped. There was silence, followed by a sharp “let’s go.” Chaos erupted as 20 or so kids screamed at the top of their lungs, entered my cabin, pulled me out of bed, threw me up and down outside, slapped me, pinched me, cheered for me, stripped my bed, and dumped my trunk of clothes everywhere. I had just been tapped into the honor council at Camp Virginia, and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Mr. Schmick, Ms. Turner, Mr. Smyth, Mom, Dad, faculty, students, and friends, I am here today to talk about magic moments.

Now, let me step back a bit and open things up to you all. Try to picture something, a moment in your life that gives you the goosebumps. Something you want to relive every day of your life so you can feel that energy and that passion again. Something that happened that made you feel some sort of never-ending joy or even ecstasy at that time…  You can argue that ability or talent or skill are the most important things in life, but I believe that these moments I’m talking about drive my life. They give me energy, they give me electricity to keep doing what I love.

For some people it happens with amazing sporting events, family vacations, or epic adventures with your buddies, but for me, as I said, it comes with traditions – like the “tapping” by the honor council at camp or putting on a musical every spring or, more recently, helping to plan the McDonogh Pep Rally that I’ve been itching to be a part of since pre-first. Those moments are so special for me.

But as I’ve been getting older and older, everything starts to feel smaller or less intriguing – less mystical. Camp Virginia isn’t what it used to be for me anymore. When I was twelve it was a place full of spirit and wonder, but as a senior in high school, it just feels like a summer camp. Basically, the idea of everything losing its sparkle, losing its light as I age has really been bugging me lately. Read More →

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