Due to winter weather, Salem Academy will open at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. See our Winter Storm Update page for details.

Graduation Speeches: Brea Sorrells

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Sorrells 2018 Academy  Grad

One aspect of Salem Academy that many people take the time to point out is the engaged and friendly community that helps define this school. As someone who entered into my freshman year a bit shy, I was very grateful for the people who took me in as a friend when I arrived. Though I was soon comforted by the fact that I would not be alone for all of my years here, I am surprised by how much I have learned and, more importantly, how I learned the lessons that have changed my outlook on life. If Salem has taught me anything, it is that the unexpected is the very best at teaching you the extraordinary. 

As I look back on my years at Salem, many of the traditions that we originally thought would be unusual and weird turned out to be the experiences that gave us some of the best memories. After all, shaving cream fights and shrieking Christmas carols are not your everyday experiences. Despite the fact that we, as a student body, can eat about 81 pounds of peppermints and who knows how many cookies in a week, our extraordinary and unique traditions may not be the only moments that have defined our lives. Perhaps the everyday experiences we have shape ourselves just as significantly as our fun, outstanding moments. 

My fellow seniors have spent four years worth of class days in these hallways, and each ordinary day has left us knowing one more piece of information that slowly adds to our understanding of the world. We move through our classes, turning in assignments, listening to other people’s thoughts on books or physics, learning just as much from one another as we do from our classes. In particular, we have allowed our peers to teach us in a way that strengthens the unexpected friendships that have formed in a school where individuals from so many backgrounds create their lives and do what they love. 

I remember many instances where an unexpected look has changed my day for the better, or an unexpected comment has changed the way I felt about a particular topic. Many of us have developed unexpected loves for activities that we thought we would be terrified to participate in. And, of course, we have learned many lessons about each other and about ourselves, such as the sideways glances we give each other in class when we find something funny, or the times when we purposefully use our vocabulary from AP Bio to talk about everything we’re having for lunch. I have even learned unexpected lessons while working on robotics late at night, googling frantically and filled with concern for the state of our code in the morning. Even if these lessons don’t always directly help us to succeed on our next tests, they are truly just as important.

I have also learned many unexpected lessons from our building itself. When I was younger, one of my favorite pastimes was walking through the halls of this school, seeing all of the places that people make their home. During the summer, if I was in the building, I explored again, this time feeling the emptiness and lack of movement in the hallways, looking into rooms that were standing eerily open. There was always a sense of anticipation in the walls, as if the building itself recognized that an important piece of itself was missing. It was always a lonely but hopeful experience, and I feel the same conflicting emotions now, giving this speech. I believe that many of my classmates understand these feelings as we leave each other for college, but I hope that we are all filled with a sense of anticipation for the future.

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