Editor's note: The following information has been provided by Friends' Central School.
WYNNEWOOD, Pa. – A Friends’ Central education is very much an intellectual journey, as students are encouraged to forge their own path, guided by the Quaker values that have infused their learning. [On June 9], 96 members of the Class of 2012 embark on a new journey, as they celebrate commencement in the 167th year of the School and look toward a future of engagement and leadership in college and throughout their lives.
As the sun peaked through what was an overcast morning, the Class of 2012 and their families and friends enjoyed a spirited morning of reflection and anticipation, as they shared stories of their time at Friends’ Central and their hopes for the future.
Nicolas DeFina, a resident of Haverford, was one of two student speakers at the ceremony. He talked about his struggles with regret, calling it a “subversively powerful demoralizer,” but he encouraged his classmates to use regret in a beneficial way. He quoted playwright Fulton Oursler, who said that “many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for the past and fear for the future.” He challenged his classmates to accept their past experiences and use them to take advantage of their greatest assets, “enthusiasm, curiosity, fearlessness, and compassion.”
“What matters the most is what experiences, friendships, and lessons you have behind you,” DeFina said. “This, my classmates, is what will get us through the mysteries of the future. All we must do is embrace our beautifully erratic pasts; don’t regret them. Free yourselves. You deserve it.”
Kirsten Easley, a Philadelphia resident, was the second student speaker. She noted the similarities between the now-famous “opposite of loneliness” reflection by Yale graduate Marina Keegan. Easley expected to be an outsider upon entering Friends’ Central as a freshman. What she discovered, though, was that she was “surrounded by people who were willing and eager to embrace me and my differences.”
“That’s what I love most about Friends’ Central and the people here,” Easley said. “Everyone can come here with different beliefs and world views and no one is discouraged from sharing them … the embrace and love of community and our differences are what make Friends’ Central so special.”
Easley came back to Keegan’s essay as she ended her speech, noting that she realized that she and Keegan were feeling a lot of the same emotions. “Though we were in different places in our lives, the feelings brought to the surface by getting ready to leave one community and to take on the task of finding another were very similar,” Easley said. “Her optimism about her future and the futures of her fellow graduates was infectious, and I couldn’t help but believe in every word she spoke. I feel the same way about our futures as we leave Friends’ Central.”
This year’s faculty speaker was Carrie Brodsky, Co-director of College Counseling, whose son, Joey Brodsky, graduated today. Brodsky related the difficulty in boiling down the complex sum of a students’ life and aspirations to “the rigid format of the Common Application.” A quote by Albert Einstein hangs in her office to reassure her advisees: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Brodsky spoke eloquently of the many things that Friends’ Central students do that matter, but cannot be counted, things such as gratitude and engagement. She the retold the story of golf balls in the jar—how the golf balls are the important things, like family and friends, and they can fill up the jar. But pebbles still fit, these are jobs and houses and cars. Even these do not fill the jar, completely, as sand can fill in the spaces. Sand represents everything else in life. The lesson is that if the sand goes in first, there is not room for the important things. “The same goes for life,” Brodsky said, “if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, there is no room for the things that are important to you.”
“As you leave Friends’ Central today,” Brodsky concluded, “confident, talented young adults, ready to make your mark in the world, I encourage you to live an engaged life, express gratitude for the things that matter most to you, and be sure to pay attention to the things that can’t be counted.”