Senior Dinner Speech

Joshua Neudel, Head of Upper School

The following remarks were given on June 1 at the Senior Dinner, the night before Commencement.
Just about last week, I was speaking with Mr. Murray during the middle of the school day, and he said, “It really is quiet around here”. My first thought was that it is always quiet during Senior Project with the grade not really being around, but then I began to think about it some more. 
Mr. Murray was right, for the past few weeks, the hallways felt emptier, and the energy of the school felt lower. While some may say, of course, things feel quieter with more than a quarter of the school missing, it hasn’t been the same type of quiet. 
Over the course of the year, your grade’s energy and joy spread through the hallways like a gas, finding the farthest reaches of campus and infecting others with that energy. This has been true since you arrived in the Upper School and while COVID may have dampened the spirit slightly, neither the virus nor masks could truly stop you. 
While it is hard to remember what 9th grade looked like, one vivid memory I have is of your grade making the best of outdoor lunches in 10th grade — juggling a soccer ball, jamming out on guitars while sitting in Adirondack chairs, and laying out on Brimmer mats in the sun. This image of the field during lunch brings a smile to my face. Though that magnetic force between you caused us to keep reminding you to spread out, your desire to be with each other and enjoy each other’s presence is a testament to the way you have led at Brimmer.  
As a school and educators, our hope with any class or individual student is to make an imprint on them. To help each person leave better than they came to us. Certainly, more knowledgeable, but also improved in other ways, ways that are individualized to each person, ways that likely jump to mind when you or your family members think about it for a moment.  
Just like we hope we left a mark on you, I believe that you have done the same for Brimmer. As you exit as a student tomorrow, the school is a better place than it was when you arrived. The marks you left on us serve less as blemishes but as reminders of the memories created and how you’ve helped move the school forward. 
You helped solidify the impact of the Gator-Aides program, elevated the admissions ambassador program, secured championships on the sports field, and earned standing ovations in the theater. You have brought positive leadership to the clubs and groups you have led, bringing them to new levels, decorating the walls with your artwork, bringing robots to life, and continuing to show us the benefits of impromptu recess. 
You have lived out this year’s school theme, Finding Balance, Finding Joy. Modeling to the school ways that you can be serious about learning, while also filling classrooms and hallways with laughter. How you can take a text seriously, while not taking yourself too seriously. It is true that we already began to feel the absence of your presence on campus, but this week has been a reminder of the positivity you bring when you are here.  
In Bill Waterson’s final comic strip for Calvin and Hobbes, the title characters are standing on top of a hill looking out at a landscape freshly covered in snow. I want to share this final exchange between Calvin and Hobbes: 
Hobbes: Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new! 
Calvin: A new year…A fresh clean start 
Hobbes: It’s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on! 
Calvin: A day full of possibilities 
Calvin: It’s a magical world, Hobbes Ole Buddy, let’s go exploring. 
While everything familiar is going to disappear, blanketed with newness, a world of possibilities awaits you and the time for new adventures has come.    
As an inclusive private school community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.