Last month before departing for their spring projects, seniors in the Speechwriting and Public Speaking elective delivered tributes to honor someone or something about the school. Many presented prepared speeches before the school or in class, and some spoke extemporaneously in the US gallery. The following are excerpts from those tributes.
Becky Kendall: Dean of Students Rory Morton
Mr. Morton doesn’t just listen—he listens and responds. He responds with wisdom and intelligence. You know that when you’re talking to him, he’s giving you his utmost attention and focus and is determined to help you until you feel the conversation has accomplished something. Mr. Morton is a father figure to me.
Jackie Sands: History and Social Sciences Department Head Gustavo Carrera
I went to Germany my sophomore year, and during that year I lost contact with a lot of my friends at BB&N, and I was skeptical about coming back. In the spring of that year, it came time for me to choose my courses, and I vaguely remembered being assigned to Mr. Carrera as an advisee, but I didn’t actually know. So I sent him an email and I said, “Hi, it’s me. I went away to Germany. I hope you remember who I am. I think you are my advisor.” He emailed me back two minutes later, saying, “I am” (with three exclamation points), and asked if we could Skype soon. The next day I Skyped with Mr. Carrera, and he said that he actually looked at his roster and didn’t see my name but that “I will fight for you! I want you in my advisory!”
Over the next two years, fighting for me is all that Mr. Carrera did. I came back to school, and, I will not lie, it was a very rough academic transition. But he was not hesitant to write to every single one of my teachers multiple times a week explaining extraneous circumstances, asking for an absurd amount of extensions (including on super major assignments like the Profile and Junior History Paper) and even standing up to multiple teachers for me and telling them why they were wrong—and telling my parents why they were wrong. But perhaps most importantly, and what I will always be most appreciative of, is that Mr. Carrera was my best friend.
Elijah Davis: English Teacher Alda Farlow
People say she’s the best. People don’t usually say, “She’s the best English teacher at BB&N,” but “She’s the best.” It’s because people aren’t just speaking on her occupation but her character. It’s not that she’s the best English teacher, but that she’s the best at utilizing what she can offer to the community outside of academia: social awareness of the privilege some of us have, the importance of speaking your truth, the power of being able to smile at the end of the day—lessons that are not in all English classes’ curricula.
… After I came up with my Marina Keegan Fellowship proposal, I ran to her office and told her exactly what I had planned. I told her I wanted to make a film that focused on the consequences of the lack of diversity in private schools and how we can fix it. I told her I wanted to interview admission officers, parents, and black students.
She said, “I love it!” She praised every one of my ideas, along with the rest of her OG office squad, i.e. Mr. Willey, Mr. Boyd, and Ms. Courtemanche. The one thing I will always remember from that day is her saying, “This film will happen if you get the fellowship or not. We will apply for other grants. We (referring to her office squad) will help pay for if it gets to that point. I just want you to know it’s going to happen.”
And at that moment I understood [what] “Ms. Farlow’s the best” truly meant.
Yliuz Sierra Marin: BB&N English teachers
Ms. Klingler gave me the gift to express my ideas properly… Ms. Getchell gifted me the power to reflect deeply in order to gain a greater understanding… Ms. Bonsey gave me the power to connect ideas and create change… Ms. Kornet gave me the power to find my truth and tell it in a way that is not only effective, but beautiful. My growth as an English student can be explained by the example of a bow and an arrow. I am the arrow, and all of my English teachers have been the bows. They have launched me farther than I would have ever traveled by myself. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
Sophia Scanlan: the BB&N education
Something I deeply value in BB&N is our ability to confront unpleasant topics.
As a lifer, I can say it’s not only in the high school where we’ve faced these tough topics. In my 14 years here, I can recall instances at all three campuses where we’ve dealt with them. In kindergarten, we spent a day learning about Hurricane Katrina because a kid from New Orleans was coming into our grade for a few months. In fifth grade, we talked about al-Qaeda because Osama bin Laden had just been killed. In seventh grade, we all wore BB&N Strong shirts, held hands in a circle, and had a moment of silence after the Boston Marathon bombings.
At the high school, we hear speeches about eating disorders and depression and family deaths at Community Building Assemblies. We watch theater presentations about sexual assault. We talk about drug overdosing with Will Slotnick. Last winter, Mr. Siegel led my history class in a discussion about whether the #NeverAgain movement was snuffing out the #MeToo movement. A few weeks before, Ms. Borking required my chem class to hear a speaker explain the impending global water crisis.
In many schools, students discuss these jarring, real-world ideas only in clubs or with their friends. Of course, we do that, too—in clubs like PRISM, SHADES, or The Vanguard. But at BB&N, Mr. Siegel, Ms. Borking, and others embed these ideas into the curriculum—they don’t just follow a standard textbook and teach us about primary sources or electrons. And our administrators set up the assemblies that address these ideas, too. At BB&N, there’s no escaping the difficult things going on in the world.
This exposure to unpleasant ideas is crucial. It allows us to be active citizens and see what the world is really like. It allows us to gain new perspectives and challenge our own. And above all, it allows us to think about how we can contribute after we leave this place.
And in my mind, that’s what makes the BB&N education so invaluable.