[Excerpts from speech given at Crescent School's Opening Assembly on September 7, 2017.]
We often talk about our Crescent journey starting on our first day of school. While that’s absolutely an important milestone in it, I’d argue that this journey starts a bit earlier. In my case, it began with my acceptance letter. There was no big celebration or parade in my honour, just a letter and, eventually, my choice to come to Crescent. At the time I was happy and excited, but I’d be lying if I said that I understood what that letter, and my response to it, would lead to.
That letter would turn out to be a call to adventure that would change my life, just as I’m sure will happen for all of you if it hasn’t already. It has been a key for me to open up so many incredible doors and access countless opportunities that I could have only dreamed of otherwise. It has been an invitation to meet hundreds of amazing people whom I now can’t begin to imagine living without. It’s taken me my entire Crescent career so far to grasp the significance of that letter, and my choice in response to it, but now, I can thank my lucky stars for being that letter’s recipient, and I can thank myself for making that decision – the best decision of my life....
When I first came to Crescent in Grade 7, I felt quite nervous. I had said my farewells to the simplicity and comfort of elementary school, and I was coming into a new, much larger school, where I knew no one…but that’s not to say I was alone. I was surrounded by friendly faces, eager and willing to help me out with the challenges of such a life-changing transition. Wherever I turned, there were the outstretched arms of classmates, teachers, mentors and administrators, all happy to lend a hand when I was in need.
Here, We All Belong
Within the first few weeks of being at Crescent, I became well acquainted with the astounding sense of community that had so strongly drawn me to here in the first place. Here, we all belong, and this sense of brotherhood is vital to our Crescent identity.
By the end of my first year at Crescent, I was eagerly looking forward to another five with the same amazing people that had instilled me with the infectious sense of school pride that I carry with me every day. I had truly become part of a family, one that would encourage me to strive for excellence and look out for my brothers, and one that would provide a tremendous amount of support for me on my journey through Crescent.
Today, it’s with honour that I say Crescent feels like home to me. I can come to school in the morning thinking or feeling anything I want, but by the end of the day, you’ll never see me going home without a smile on my face. No matter what happens here every day, we each have our Crescent brothers, our teachers and our mentors to go through it all together.
Invaluable Life Lessons
It was with the great people I met here that I learned some invaluable life lessons that have stuck with me to this day. I’ve learned that what you put in, is what you get out. When you’re passionate about something, work hard at it and your accomplishments will be your rewards. Another lesson that I think about all the time, is that you can’t do it all alone. Yes, it’s true, we want to be able to do it all ourselves, but trying to take on an assortment of different challenges without help can be very overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your brothers for support when you need it, that’s what they’re here for.
One of the most important, and sad, things that I’ve discovered over the past five years, is that your time at Crescent will be over in what feels like the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the grad class with me, with only one year left, or you’re just starting Grade 3, with your entire Crescent journey ahead of you, your time at this amazing school will be all too short. As someone who’s nearing the finish line of their time at Crescent, the best advice I can give to everyone in this room is to take advantage of the opportunities you have right now, and make every precious moment count.
Now Is The Time
For this reason, our Grad class has adopted the motto: Now is the time. This motto is a call to action for everyone here, a rallying cry for us all to take full advantage of the present and the opportunities that we have in front of us right now. Yes, it always feels easier to wait a little while longer before doing something that we have on our minds, but we don’t have to take the easiest path on our Crescent journey. We’re all capable of seizing each day here, and making sure that valuable opportunities don’t pass us by.
In this grad motto, there’s a component of individuality as well. Yes, now is the time, but it’s for you all to decide what you want to do with it. Take action in your own way, in a way that you genuinely care about, and in a way that benefits your brothers, and your school. While we ask everyone at Crescent to make this year count, I have some individual messages as well that I’d like to share with you today.
To the Lower and Middle Schools, continue to display the energy, curiosity and compassion that you’re admired for. This is a time in your life where you’ll learn, grow and mature quite a bit, but more than anything, it’s a time that’s meant to be enjoyed. With your brothers by your side to support you and your teachers close by to guide you, you’ll never be alone. As long as you put yourself out there, you’ll be able to build friendships that will last until the end of your Crescent career and beyond, and create memories that you’ll never forget. You guys still have the majority of your time at Crescent left ahead of you, but it’s never too early to start. Take advantage of the opportunities around you to hone your skills, and share your talents. Transform your big dreams into reality, you’ve got all the tools you need for it.
To my peers in the Upper School, these final years at Crescent may be some of the toughest for you, but they will absolutely be the most rewarding. Take risks, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, as that’s the place that you’ll have the most impactful and memorable experiences. You may not always have the success you were hoping for when trying someone new, but learning from a failure is still valuable, and you shouldn’t lose sleep over small mistakes you make while taking risks. Besides, you guys will have plenty of more important things to lose sleep over. With the potential for failure that we have to accept, we’ll need someone to catch us if we fall, so always have each others’ backs, and know that someone has yours.
To the faculty and staff, you’re at the center of what makes this school so great, and you’re essential to shaping the experience of Crescent students. You not only teach and coach us, but you guide us, inspire us and care about us. You keep our school clean, safe and well-maintained and you’re responsible for the great lunches we have here every day. Whenever I’ve needed it, the mentorship of a staff member has always been within arms’ reach. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or the court, in the lab, the CCL, the cafeteria or simply in the hallways, you all have an unbelievably positive impact on the lives of Crescent students and we can’t thank you all enough for everything you do for us.
To those of you who are just joining the Crescent community now, either as a member of the student body, or the Crescent faculty, welcome. Believe me, if it hasn’t already happened, it won’t be long before you truly feel at home here. You’ll become a part of this Crescent family in no time.
To the grads, it’s been a hell of a ride. As our time at this schools nears its end, I hope that you’re all as proud to be a part of this grad class as I am. As a grade, we’re incredibly diverse in our talents and interests, not to mention extremely caring and loyal to one another. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that there’s not a better group of guys I could have picked to spend my time at Crescent with. More than anyone else here, our time is now, so let’s make this last year count, and at its end, let’s be proud to have become Men of Character together.
There's No Shortage Of Ways To Get Involved
In closing, I’d like to remind you all that at Crescent, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved. Just as I was, you were all the recipients of acceptance letters to Crescent and you chose to come here for a reason. So I know that you have the potential to do something meaningful with your time here, and this year, let’s focus on making that happen. Let’s work hard, be resilient and use the resources around us to have the success that I know we’re all capable of achieving. When someone asks us what school we go to, let’s answer “Crescent,” and let’s make sure we can do it with humble pride.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year, from academics, to the arts, to athletics, leadership, community service, robotics, and beyond, and I hope that you’re all just as excited to start as I am. This year will be a year of proactivity and initiative. We won’t be procrastinating, or waiting endlessly to take action, because I cannot be more genuine when I tell you all that now is the time.
Thank you for listening, and I hope you all have a fantastic school year.