By Olivia Maguire
During these difficult times one looks for signs of hope. I often find them through the children and the young men and women of our parish and our school. It is their generation who will someday lead our nation and our church. This past Friday evening, at Holy Trinity School’s 8th grade graduation, I found the commencement address given by Olivia Maguire a source of hope and inspiration. With Olivia’s permission we are sharing her eloquent words. I invite you to read the text and notice the way she incorporates an appreciation of her 38 classmates, their parents and their teachers with an awareness of the salient issues of our day. In listening to this young woman that evening, I was amazed at her words and her poise and felt grateful for all the graduates, their parents and their teachers. And I found hope!
—Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J.
Good Evening Fr. Gillespie, Mr. McShane, parents, families, faculty and staff, and especially our graduating class. My name is Olivia Maguire, and I am the Class of 2020’s student council president. While I wish we were together in person, it is my great privilege to be able to speak about our class, at the first, and hopefully last, Virtual Closing Ceremony.
I wanted to write a speech as memorable as the class of 2020. Believe me, it was nearly impossible. But one thing my class has taught me, is that nothing is impossible. You get your finger stuck in a locker and survive, You can be trapped on an incredibly hot field trip bus in Gettysburg and survive, You can apply to high school and surprisingly… survive. Like I said, this class has taught me anything is possible.
To most of you, the class of 2020 is made up of your children, students, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. To me, the class of 2020 is made up of future artists, dancers, politicians, historians, writers, athletes, mathletes, and definitely a few comedians. Our variety of unique talents is what makes us so special.
I came to Holy Trinity in the second grade, making this my seventh year at HTS. To some people that might seem like a long time, but I don't consider myself as a “lifer.” Eight of my classmates have been attending HTS since the nursery program, which means they are coming to the end of their 11th year at Holy Trinity. To put that in perspective, that's 11 years of Mrs. Shannon's impeccable conducting of the Christmas Show and around a million of Mr. Hennessy’s fabulously sarcastic jokes. So for the eight of you, congratulations on completing the whole ride.
However, whether you have been here since nursery or came to Holy Trinity last year, I can safely say we were all looking forward to the spring of our 8th grade year. We were dreaming about wearing our new high school sweatshirts, leaving school early after final exams, flexing in front of seventh graders, and annihilating our teachers in the Student-Faculty basketball game. Many of us were already talking with our 1st and 2nd grade buddies about the annual zoo trip and planning what rides to go on with our friends at Kings Dominion.
So when school was canceled for the rest of the year, it felt unbearably sad and unfair. All these traditions and experiences we had been waiting for since our first years at Holy Trinity, were snatched away from us.
It would have been easy for us to focus on the things we are missing. As a class, I believe we are committed to not letting the events of the last few months overshadow the years we have spent together. I’m thankful for one of my close friends, Lila Touchette, who reached out to everyone in the class asking us to record our favorite memories from our time at HTS.
The most commonly mentioned memories were from the Gettysburg Field Trip, the trip to the Spy Museum, and the Christmas Show. All of these events were extremely fun, but the average days at HTS were also special.
Like many in my class there were some days I would show up to school with the worst attitude due to having slept in, my annoying younger brother, forgetting my lunch, or simply being a little stressed.
But I would walk into the cafeteria, sit down at the table closest to the milk fridge and I would laugh. This class makes me laugh. We all make each other laugh. Whether its people obviously cheating at Uno—looking at you Kyion—or sharing a surprised laugh at the depth of Mr. Devlin’s knowledge of internet trends. There is never a dull moment with this class.
While stuck in my room during quarantine, I was endlessly scrolling on TikTok, as one does while stuck in quarantine, I came across a quote by Dr. Seuss that changed my perspective. He said, “Don’t cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” I am not saying we shouldn’t be sad, we have every right to be disappointed. But I am committed to following the lead of so many of my classmates. I will remember the good—there was so much good—and I will smile.
Last week, the United States recognized 100,000 fatalities due to the coronavirus. That very same week, George Floyd was killed and protests have broken out across the country, including in our hometown. Our country is in a strange place right now, and it feels almost impossible to see how we can push through such sorrowful times. It would be easy to feel as though there is nothing that I—or any one of us—can do.
In these uncertain times I feel fortunate that I have grown up in a community with a strong commitment to being a person for others. People for others—a phrase that we used to think was just part of our honor code that we had to say everyday. But these recent events have made me realize not only what being a person for others means, but what a person for others does. A person for others speaks up and fights for the people who feel as if they have lost their voices. It is not just “thoughts and prayers” or hand sanitizer that will get us through these difficult times. It is rising up, caring for, and extending respect to all the people around us.
Part of being a Student at HTS means standing up every morning, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, The Suscipe, and The HTS Honor Code. Next year, we will not be HTS students, we will be Holy Trinity alumni. But we can still carry our passion, our talents, and our desire to be part of a change to our respective high school communities.
A class of 39 students who will attend 14 different schools next year. I have no doubt in my mind that you will all continue on to do great things. As this speech comes to end, I feel the need to say a few exceptionally important thank yous.
First, to our teachers. Not only are you our educators, but you make Holy Trinity a safe place to go to school, where we can be ourselves. Thank you for taking on the challenging and somewhat impossible task of surrounding yourself with teenagers everyday. Even though our humor is… complicated, and sometimes we smell, you are always there to listen to us. and we are leaving this school, with the feeling that we have someone in our corner.
Thank you to our parents. I mean, wow—there is not enough iCloud storage in the world, to write a long enough list of thank yous to you all. From the moment we are born, you support us and raise us to be the best versions of ourselves. We make mess after mess, and you are always there to...verbally encourage us to clean it up. You show us right from wrong, and teach us to see the little bits of light even in, what seem, like the darkest moments.
You made sure we got an excellent education here at Holy Trinity, and continue to do so as we move on to high school. You’ve taught us everything we know. Well almost everything—Wikipedia might deserve some credit. Sometimes we disagree (I mean, come on—we’re teens!) As Mekhi says, “We’re never wrong, just sometimes we aren’t right.” But enough with the jokes, while every family here is different, I do believe I can speak for all my classmates when I say, we appreciate you! Sometimes we show it in a funny way, but we do, and like I said there just aren't enough thank yous to make up for everything you do for us.
Finally, thank you to my class, the graduating Class of 2020. This was the hardest thank you to write. So I tried to think of my first moments with you all. I thought of my shadow day at Holy Trinity. I wore a green dress with butterflies on it and I was nervous as I walked into Mr. Denny’s first grade class. I was the only one not wearing some form of navy blue which only added to my awkwardness, but the minute I walked in a swarm of kids ran towards me, smiling. When I left that day, I told my parents that I wanted to be in that class, 100 bazillion percent. Not much has changed since the day I came to visit. We are still a fun, ambitious, creative, benevolent class. It says a lot about the resilience of our class that after months of being trapped in our houses, we can still come together, laugh, and recognize all that we have accomplished together.
I know it’s such a cliché, but thank you for the memories and the experiences, thank you for the life lessons and the unforgettable friendships.
Holy Trinity School Class of 2020
Student Council President 2019-2020
Photo of the Class of 2020 and their teachers was taken at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.