Senior Speech: Will Robertson

Emily Orr, Managing Editor, Darlingtonian

Click above to check out our ThingLink, an interactive look at senior Will Robertson’s speech in assembly on Oct. 5, 2015.


I’ve been sitting with a lot of you for the past 3 years, so I’ve seen how difficult it gets for some of you to stay awake during these.

That being said I’m going to do my best to keep this short and sweet. But there are a couple things I want to talk about.

First off, I want to address challenges. My first day at Darlington, except for my sister I knew no one.

I walked through the doors to the dining hall and saw basically nothing but unfamiliar faces… Emily and I ate breakfast alone, and then went our separate ways to advisee. Most of that day was spent meeting people, but still feeling pretty separate. The next day, the second day of school, was my birthday. That afternoon, we had a class meeting in the DBR. Where Mr. Allen announced my birthday in front of about 100 people I had never met. He wanted everyone to sing to me. Of course, being the wonderful brother I am, I made sure everyone knew it was Emily’s birthday too. Our entire class sang to us, uncomfortably because no one knew our names yet. Seniors, some of you may remember this, but I get the sense it wasn’t as memorable of a moment for most of you as it was for me. Coming to this school and knowing no one was a big enough challenge, which felt (briefly) doubled by this event. Thanks, Mr. Allen.

Challenges face us every day. Sometimes massive, sometimes meager. Every day is a new challenge. Some of you may face that challenge by accepting it and letting it rule your life. For those of you that have this mindset… try to change it and become one of those people who fight back against the challenge and make everything they can out of it. To quote Cave Johnson, “When Life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make Life take the lemons back.” When you’re faced with a challenge… cut the crap and fight it. You should face challenges like each one can make a difference in your life, because it can. You just won’t know until you can look back on it and hopefully, like I can now with my second day of school song, hopefully you can laugh at some of those that ended poorly. But at least you can say you fought for the best outcome.

Second, I want to talk about opportunities. At this school, we are all presented with so many opportunities. How many of you actually seize those opportunities and make the most of your time? Some of you try to do everything. You’re in 8 clubs, 4 sports, and you’re spending all your free time doing volunteer work. If that’s what works for you, great! Keep at it. If you’re one of these people, but you’re feeling overwhelmed, calm down. Try to find what you are most passionate about and stick to it. To quote Orison Swell Marden, “The greatest thing a man can do is make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given him. This is success, and there is no other.”

I want to reflect on that a bit.

You, every last one of you, has been given so much.

Take it.

When you set foot on this campus, you should realize that you have an opportunity most people don’t have. Some of you may go out there and take advantage of this opportunity. Some of you sit in your rooms all day playing video games or sleeping. I can’t really argue with sleeping, I love it. But there is a certain extent to which we need to control ourselves. Too much sleep, and you’ve wasted time you could’ve spent doing something more productive. Too little sleep, and you won’t be able to focus when you need to. Learn to manage your time wisely. If that means you’re playing less video games or you’re doing homework during your free time during the day, so be it. You’re being more productive for your own greater good. And yes, if you want to properly grasp an opportunity, it will take work. “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” “Opportunity may be where you are right now.” Take it.

Finally, I want to thank some people, both here and gone, for what they’ve done for me in my time here. To my parents, for providing the opportunity for me to go to this wonderful school and for giving me the chance to obtain everything I have today. To my sister, Emily Robertson, for being there for me from day 1, both in life and here at Darlington. To Will Crawford, for singing happy birthday to me every time you saw me on the second day of school, when I was still freaked out and knew no one. To Virginia Summer, for teaching me how to row well enough not to flip the boat the very first time we went out on the water in crew without any prior instruction. To O’Keefe Johnson, for being the smiley-est person I’ve ever met and for being a role model I hope I take after. To Ms. Atkins, for being quite possibly one of the best teachers I have ever had and for being an inspiration in all aspects of my life, from academics to who I want to be. To Mrs. Barnes, for introducing me to the world of dorm life. To Mr. Hamil, for helping me expand my involvement in the dorm and make it a second home for me. To Mr. Hudson, for showing me that teaching doesn’t have to be stereotypical, boring lectures, but instead can involve yelling…and lots of it; for being a fantastic coach to me and my peers in swimming even though you are, as quoted by one former swimmer, “not my real mom.” To Adam Tarrant, Carl Schriever, and Alex Russell for coming up to the dorm and making it a part of your life as well as mine. And finally, to the student body as a whole, for creating an environment I can really call my second home.

To summarize: Everyone faces challenges. Face each one like it will have an effect on the rest of your life. It just might. Learn to manage your time wisely. Seize opportunities as they’re handed to you, and reach for those you may need to stretch for.

I would like to think that all of you will take this speech to heart. I hope all of you listened and will leave today reflecting on my words. But I can’t make you do anything. I’m not in control of your life. I may have just been talking AT some of you, but I hope I talked TO many of you.

But ultimately, I am not in control of your life.

Take control.