Graduation Speech: Keally Rohrbacher '21

Good evening. When I found out that my classmates chose me to deliver this speech, I was of course honored, but I was even more confused. But I thought a lot about what it means that I was nominated, that these guys would want (pfft) me to talk because they wanted to end their time here with a nice chuckle at some good ol’ dry humor rather than another, y’know, good speech. But you’ll be disappointed to find that what I have here is the most normal, quintessential graduation speech I could muster. So enjoy:

Part One: Reminiscence. Wow guys, it's been a crazy ride. When I showed up in 9th grade, I'll be honest, I was afraid. I thought I’d show up to a really tight group of kids who have been making memories and friends together since before they could walk, and to a degree, I was right. 

Field Day, Tree Trim, recess football games, reading time and the Williamsburg trip are just some of the great memories I've been lucky enough to hear how much I missed out on. 

But I was afraid about fitting in, and I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact, by the fall of my junior year, I had even made friends. It turns out that everyone else had pretty much already found their people by freshman preseason, but it's not a competition. But since then, just think about everything we’ve experienced together as a class: 

The bowling trip (remember that?); keeping great care of the freshman homeroom, not damaging any walls or overturning desks; when a sophomore year Miguel competed in the 5th grade leg of the Green and White tower day race; (rainy graduation?); unprecedented applause breaks in the middle of announcements; learning a valuable lesson about friendship when we all got scammed out of our chicken nugget money; and even just 2 weeks ago when the seniors all came down with a sudden illness. I am obligated to inform you all that I made up the Miguel thing. Along with the holes in the walls and the part about 2 weeks ago (clear throat).

Part Two: Gratitude. To Tower Hill: thank you. 
For every lunch, lesson, community conversation, opportunity, assembly, practice, game, responsibility and privilege. To the teachers: thank you. 

For every class, test, paper, extension, forgiveness, motivation, and joke. 

To the parents, and to all our family members and loved ones, and to those who could not be with us today: Thank you so much. 

For all of your support: physical, emotional, and financial. We could not possibly give back everything you have done for all of us. 

And finally to our classmates. Thanks guys. I know it's hard to comprehend the impact just one individual, and especially yourself, has on a community, but each and every student in this class has undeniably made a difference to everyone else. And just to honor Mr. Smith, we’re gonna do some mental math and figure out just how many connections that is. -math-. -answer- unique relationships: friendships, acquaintanceships, or just passing hellos, each one we will take with us when we leave.

Part Three: A Call to Arms. As your peer who is younger and has less life experience than more than half of you, I feel obligated to share some tokens of wisdom and advice. As the class of 2021, we have overcome countless obstacles and I think– actually you know what, I'm done saying obstacles, we all know what I’m talking about, let’s just say it on 3: 1,2,3 losing first lunch period, alright, thanks. 

But Tower Hill School has prepared us, not just for our future academic lives, but for everything life might throw at us. So as you move on from this school, I implore all of you to go beyond, take risks, and be bold.

But never forget about your support. Your family, your friends and even your classmates will all be there to catch you if you fall. Even if it makes you look ridiculous. Because I can assure you, everyone around you is far too focused on not looking ridiculous themselves to pay any real attention to how you look. Unless of course you're on stage or something. So take risks, remember your backups, and don't worry so much about how dumb other people might think you look. 

Part Four: Mood Shift and Lengthy Conclusion. 
We’ve waited a long time for this moment. Honestly, that doesn't cover it though. We have waited for so much, and with such fervor, today is the culmination of about 14 years spent mostly waiting. Waiting for the period to be over, waiting for the appropriate elapsed time during class to go to the bathroom, waiting for the second lunch period, waiting for the weekend, for breaks, for summer, and now, simply for Keally to be done talking. 

And I'm sorry, but at this point I'm kind of afraid to stop talking. Because like ten minutes after I do, it's over. I'm not in high school anymore. And that's sad, and that's scary. But then I think about why I was waiting before. I didn't stare down the clock because I was excited to leave English class, and I didn’t believe that my life would be any different once I left 9th Grade and went to 10th. Everything I learned in one class I kept with me in the next, and the friends I had in my first period, were still my friends in the second. We keep waiting because life is meant to be enjoyed in discrete parts. And although we move on today from one part to the next, the friends we’ve made, and the lessons we’ve learned will still be ours. 

I'll leave you with a question, one that I tried myself to answer before I wrote this speech: What makes the class of ‘21 special? Is it that we were the only class ever to live our entire senior year through a global pandemic? Yeah that's it. Thank you. But seriously, I know that our class is unique in the sense that clearly no other group of students could be exactly like this one, but what is inherent to our class to the people on the stage behind me? I have no idea. Maybe it's nothing, or maybe historians will look back on our yearbook shocked to find 76 Nobel laureates went to school together. I don't know, the question is mine, the solution is yours. So go out into the world and please, give us something to talk about at the reunions. Thank you.