Senior Speech: Ethan Pender

Ethan Pender, Editor-in-Chief, Student Publications

Click above to check out our ThingLink, an interactive look at senior Ethan Pender’s speech in assembly on Jan. 5, 2016.

After 14 years at this school, never have I felt the rapid approach of time more than now, in the final four months of my Darlington experience. I have come to terms with the undeniable truth that, with each passing minute, the world sheds its past and looks to the future.

Having expended nearly all of what once seemed like an infinite window of opportunity, my senior year has fully introduced the reality that, the people that I have come to school with everyday for one, two, three, four years or more, the people I’ve grown up with and shared a childhood with, I’m not going to see everyday anymore. I won’t see the aisles of cars with red “S” parking stickers lined up at the Huffman, I won’t see the flags hanging in the Language Hall or the ethnic art hanging in the History Hall. I won’t walk into the front doors of Wilcox every morning and see the typical group of sophomores lying in the floor waiting for their advisors. However, these subtle aspects of daily school life are magnified by the fact that, in four months, they will no longer be normal. A lot of times, we as students have the tendency to slump into the normal and the frequent and thus, with this trend, we fail to find a certain value in the things we consider trivial.

Aside from the quiet appeal of a constant routine, another factor to be aware of during a high school career is “What can I accomplish in the time that I have?”.

Now I want to take a minute to address each grade here today individually. To the freshmen in the balcony and the back rows: Yes, you have plenty of time to figure out you and what you want. That’s what freshman year is about: finding you and what you like. Join clubs, become involved in your house, go to football games and the musicals and everything else that makes our DarWorld go round and find out who you are and what you want.

To the sophomores sitting just a few rows ahead: you might feel like you still have over half of your time at high school left, but in reality, that time will fly and you’ll wake up one day in a year or so and realize that you have a very limited period to take advantage of what you missed for two years.

To the juniors sitting in the middle: ….. hang in there… This year will push you like none other, but if you push back, the rewards will be numerous and you will emerge a better person. By now, you should begin to recognize how time passes in the blink of an eye and with that realization, take chances and leaps of faith; you might actually land on your feet.

Finally, to the seniors in the front and to the sides: Ask yourselves: What kind of career has it been? What have you really done to distinguish yourself and to help the people around you?

When I was in Pre-K and the lower grades, I could not even imagine that this year would come. And I’d just like to say to Keara, to Luke, to Sally, to Will Sparks and Crawford, to Tanner, to Ivy, to Abby, to Carl, and Karley, and Daniel, and Drake, and Jay, and Jade, and Landon and Bob, we’ve been together for the long haul. And there are no other people that I would have rather spent my time at Darlington with. We’ve seen people come and go, we remember senior water day and Toys for Tots at the Armory, we’ve seen 3 headmasters, a new middle school, the closing of the Lower School, we’ve seen people who buckle under pressure and those who shine like a superstars. And this is the final year that we can identify as Darlington students, which you are very aware of if you feel anything like I do.

In the final analysis of this speech, the overarching theme is time and its ability to give and to take away. Never allow the ticking clock to take away your happiness, to intimidate or discourage you. With all your heart, use your time and resources wisely. Recognize the value of your education, go home and hug your parents just a little tighter or call them and tell them how much you love them. Spend time with your friends and let them know how much they mean to you. Harness your true potential and reach for the stars. Live in the present and prepare for the future. Another thing: always ask questions. Author Kurt Vonnegut, in his famous book “Slaughterhouse-Four” once reflected: “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.” We should all keep a little piece of the present in the front of our minds, ever-conscious that, in a split-second, it becomes past. And now I want everyone here to ask themselves this question: After 5 months, one, two, and three years, when you are no longer enrolled at Darlington, when you are no longer young and powerful to actively shape your destiny, what legacy succeeds you?