Student Profiles

Opening Convocation 2018

Below are the inspiring remarks from Student Council President Lillian Holland '19 to the Porter-Gaud community at Opening Convocation last Friday.

Good morning, Porter-Gaud!

I know this is mandatory, but I'm really glad you're here.

In case you were wondering, summer is officially over. You are probably thinking: Thanks, captain obvious... yet, I believe this is actually something to celebrate! I urge you to approach this notion with open ears and an open mind.

For the new students, those who have been walking these halls since the first grade, and the first graders, I want to welcome you to this new school year. More importantly, I welcome you to embrace it.....

I think it's safe to say that all of us continually keep our eyes locked on the potentiality of the future, only to lose sight of the present moment.

It starts in Lower School. I remember always wanting to be one of the "big kids".

In Middle School we just want to get past the awkward phases, pointless drama and finally reach the milestone of freshman year.

But then freshmen usually just want to stop getting cut in the lunch line and become sophomores.

The sophomores just want to become upperclassmen.

And the Juniors just want to escape standardized testing and finally become seniors. Then this daunting word appears around that time: College.

The eyerolls are so strong now I can actually hear them......

The parroted questions begin:

"Where are you looking for college?"

"Do you know what you want to do with your life?"

Well, last time I checked, most of us seniors are seventeen years old, and we still don't have a clue. There are exceptions, of course, but let's face it, we are just a little bit less clueless than we were 12 years ago.....yet people think we have to have our whole lives planned.

In reality, we don't know the events that will transpire in the next five minutes. I don't want y'all to think that I am undermining the importance of the future, I just believe that right here... right we choose to act in the moment remains most important.

Not the cyclical pattern of the "what's nexts?"

I read a book this summer called "Everybody Always" by Bob Goff and it changed my perspective about how to look at life. Mr. Goff examines our affinity for spending time with those who are the most similar to us. But taking the step to reach out to different people, is where the true boldness and understanding lies, and serves as the medium through which true character and deeper relationships are built.

Goff says: "Don't wait to join a movement. A movement is just a bunch of people making moves. Be a movement. Figure out what your next move is going to be, then make it. No one is remembered for what they only planned to do."

I believe we all share the common desire for both genuine love and authentic affection....and they are so very contagious! Starting this movement one interaction at a time would connect our school to an even greater degree!

This is the challenge-- be bold and brave this year- take chances.

Ask people you don't know very well how their day is going. Try and sit with different people at lunch. Don't initiate or give into the gossip, but maybe swerve the conversation into a more positive one. Why not laugh with people instead of at them? We may never know the true impact of a simple smile.

Here are a few things to consider:

Lower Schoolers, those clay figures you sculpt in art class are more important than you think... they will be on the mantle forever.....

Middle Schoolers, stretch your wings on a winterum trip even if all of your friends are going on another.

Upper Schoolers, I promise you can play sports and rock the stage during the same season! It's been done.

It starts with the little efforts. Little changes..... Those little things done every day can lead to dramatic changes over time! When we repeatedly live in fear of what is to come, present moments don't become memories, they become the passing of time.

I would never assume to speak for the senior class, but from my perspective, we have come to realize over these past few days that we are all in this together and every moment together is truly a gift to be cherished and remembered; everybody, always.

I could not be more proud to be part of the class of 2019, and you all have a piece of my heart......and finally, In the words of one of my favorite artists, John Mayer: "By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone." So instead of focusing on the "what's nexts", let's focus on "what's now".........

Thank you, God bless you all, and Go Cyclones!