Cheryl Taliaferro: 2015-2016 Faculty Reflections

May 8th, 2016

Graduation is not about an end but rather a new beginning – in this case, twenty-three Unicorns’ exciting beginnings as new middle school, upper school, and college students. Fortunately, beginnings provide good opportunities for reflections, so it’s fitting for us to take a moment to reflect on some of the great things that these students have accomplished this year as leaders of their divisions. They have discussed compelling ideas and complex literature, tested science hypotheses, and debated the principles upon which societies throughout history have been founded. They have labored in the gym and on the courts to improve their athletic skills, experiencing both the exhilaration of winning games and the opportunities that come from understanding defeats as opportunities for further growth. They have challenged themselves with academic and art competitions as well – advancing in spelling bees, qualifying for nationals at history bowl events, and refining their rhetorical skills at Model UN and Model Arab League conferences. They have nourished their souls with music, drama, art, and poetry. They have also selflessly served others, planning and participating in a number of Selwyn Work Days, donating and sorting food for the hungry, and building wheelchair ramps for low-income residents. They have been leaders in our school and our community, serving as founders, officers, and valued members of National Junior Honor Society, National Honor Society, student councils, the Varsity Cooking Squad, and the International Debate Club. The work that they have done this year has not always been easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Their accomplishments as Selwyn students have been no small achievement, and the special role that they’ve played as leaders in our school has been a vital part of our community.

At a time such as this, it feels appropriate to acknowledge not only the work that these students have done but also the role played by those who preceded them. Our space here at Selwyn is unique – designed, built, and maintained by Unicorns. While it may at first glance appear that pieces of it are falling apart, another way to understand those sometimes-crumbling pieces is to recognize that they are really hanging on. Many times my eye has been caught by a name or a mark left behind in this space, and each time it’s caused me to pause and consider the person who left it and what kind of life he or she had here. One thing I know about all of those people is that an indelible bond permanently connects me to them, and that same bond ties together all of the teachers, the students, and the families who have, throughout the past fifty-nine years, believed in this place, this school, and the ideals upon which it was founded. Tonight, our graduating seniors are taking their places among our distinguished alumni, equipped with the lessons they learned here to become leaders, innovators, and activists in whatever fields they choose. I hope that they go forth with the understanding that, during their time here at Selwyn, they have also made a permanent mark on our school and the people in it. That mark, like the stray marks in some of our bricks, cannot be erased. It will always be a part of this school, this faculty, and the younger students who are following their example. Congratulations to all of you who are promoting and graduating tonight. As you move forward to new divisions, new classes, and new schools, continue to be brilliant and to do great things.

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