I have very little time left as a Kent Place student. My last day of classes is in less than a week. I completed my CHP and my PE Labs, I signed my name in the Honor Code book, and I tapped my student ID number into the machine by 8:15 almost every morning for four years. I suppose that makes me “brave and brilliant,” although I still do not have a Genius Project. Regardless, I am about to graduate.
It feels strange. The last trimester of my senior year was online, which I actually enjoyed, but remote-learning does not provide me with closure. I want classes in classrooms. I want a real Step Sing. I want a traditional commencement. I cherish many of my high school memories, and I want to conclude them by cleaning out my locker, saying goodbye to my classmates and teachers in person, and sitting in the Great Room as a student one last time.
I understand and accept that I am not getting that. Kent Place is bigger than a senior spring, and life is bigger than Kent Place. We are part of a monumental, historic time, one that will define the Class of 2020 way more than Step Sing will. During this time, it is important to commit to our shared societal responsibility (i.e. distancing). Kent Place end-of-year ceremonies are not the most critical thing right now.
What I take away from these circumstances is that life does not always work out as hoped or as expected, but that is okay. I am okay. I also learned the value of looking ahead. Instead of ruminating in sadness, I am looking forward to college, even if my first semester is online. I keep moving forward.
Yesterday, I made a list of ten highlights from my Kent Place experience. It inspired me to share a few words of advice for you (younger and future Kent Place students), based on what I learned during my high school years. Keep in mind that this is personal advice based solely on my experience, so take it with a grain of salt.
Grab every opportunity that interests you. Taking advantage of opportunities made my high school experience meaningful. Set ambitious goals, pursue big ideas, and do not be afraid to challenge the Kent Place status quo. In doing so, I learned that I am capable of much more than I can imagine. You are, too.
Enjoy your classes. Classes were my favorite parts of most days at Kent Place because of the dedicated, caring teachers and the brilliant, motivated students. Kent Place classes are more than credits or grades; they are exciting. So, enjoy them. To do that, approach each class with an open mind and prepare to work hard. Do the reading, participate, and take risks. Have fun.
Do not let nonsense bog you down. Kent Place is a tricky environment. For me, there was a lot of difficulty, disappointment, and hurt. It was upsetting. Things were not always right, fair, or rational. Even still, I could not let any of that get in the way of my success and happiness, which is my advice to you. Focus on what will help you reach your goals and what will keep you sane.
Get to know as many people as possible. Every single person at Kent Place is really cool, which I honestly did not realize at first. Try to talk to as many people as possible: students in all grades, and teachers, too. Kent Place is full of wonderful people who create the school’s heart and character. Also, if you can, find those one or two people who will always be in your corner. I did, and I would not have survived the past four years otherwise.
Embrace every moment. Try to appreciate all of the weird things, big and small, that make Kent Place special. Suspend judgement and throw yourself in wholeheartedly. It will be more fun that way, I promise.
Those are five of many lessons I learned at Kent Place. I also learned Coulomb’s Law and the prologue to the Canterbury Tales, but I value the lessons I learned on my own a little bit more. The advice I shared for younger students is also advice for myself; it will inform my experiences in college and throughout the rest of my life. After learning so much, both in and out of the classroom, I am confident that I am ready to move to the next chapter. Even though I will not graduate in a typical way, my time at this school genuinely feels complete. I took what I needed from Kent Place, and I gave what I could to Kent Place.
I miss it already.
Vivienne Germain, KPS Class of 2020