Speech to the Synergy Graduating Class of 2008
I’ve been struggling with this speech for a while. Graduation is an interesting thing - on one hand its not such a big deal, you leave one school and join another. On the other hand it is a big deal - you’re still here, you’ve made it this far, and you’ll never be a student at Synergy again. I don’t know how much practical advice I can give you - as a Graduate of Synergy I guess I can do a better job of predicting your future than some, but with only 6 years between me and the little school that could, I’m not exactly a fountain of wisdom. None the less, congratulations Synergy class of 2008.

When I was about fifteen I went to my first high school dance. I had spent hours making sure my hair and cool red shirt were just perfect and I was feeling pretty good as I walked down the hall towards the noisy gym. Music was thumping all around, and as it grew in intensity and the lighting slowly dimmed I became nervous and excited and scared all at the same time. I finally worked up the courage to venture on to the dance floor and as the crowd engulfed me I became incredibly aware that I had no idea where to put my hands.

Pockets looked strange, as did folding my arms or letting them hang loose, so I tried to dance with them, but despite my efforts I looked less cool and more like I was swatting flies than I had hoped. No matter what moves I did, whether the cowboy western or the creepy jazz guy my hands were simply a complete problem.

Now synergy has since improved its ability to get invited to other schools daces, but the lesson to take away from this story is not my dancing tips, but rather that most of High school can be summed up in a single word: Awkward.

Don’t despair yet, though. Learning to live your new and more awkward lives is not too difficult. In fact, by joining the elite club of under 800 individuals who can call Synergy something they lived though, you’re closer than you may already think. You see, awkward can apply to many things, and often the most important and most fun things come with a high cost of feeling not very cool.

It is these events, like making new friends, giving a presentation in class, or calling some girl you don’t know who you have to do group work with at her home and having her grandmother yell at you in a language you don’t understand that will mark the day-in and day-out of your lives to come.

You’ll experience the color of living in a large city while you ride the bus, or go to Noah’s bagels and have them call out your name as “Ann” even though you clearly said “Ian” right when those kids from your class walk in and all you can do is grab your bagel and walk away knowing they just saw you get called “Ann”. But its times like these that I feel a synergy education comes quite handy.

Through every broken agreement, frozen pea ice pack, and flagrant misspelling these people around you, your teachers at synergy, have been there. They’ve helped you learn 6 and ten letter words while trying to make you forget a few four lettered ones on the way. They’ve helped you deal with bloody noses and scraped knees.

They’ve even watched your fashion change, some times for better, sometimes for worse, over the long years you’ve spent together.

So when you’re out there, and you feel that terrible awkwardness that can come in almost any occasion, look back onto your synergy training. Maybe its telling nice things to one another at farm school, or wild stories every person should get Jana to tell. It might be the dances with moves like “rape the willow” from Mahala, or hearing Tammy and Elena sing your praises to your parents at a conference. I guarantee that while every teacher at synergy has their quirks, and has their ability to make you sweat a little bit, remembering what you’ve been though will give you faith in what more you can take. Because Awkwardness is so often felt when we’re outside of our element, and often it’s one of the best things you can feel. It’s like a compass telling you where the new and scary and potentially exciting lies.

These crazy people who work at synergy have led you to do some pretty crazy things - You’ve performed in front of thousands of people at a music teachers conference, and acted in an original play. You’ve slept alone in the middle of the woods, and created inventions and final projects that I’m sure are more than refrigerator door worthy.

There will be kids at your high schools who have never seen snow. There will be kids at your high schools who don’t know what a lunch in Mexico tastes like. There may even be kids who don’t know the staffing problems at the SF zoo night shift.

And I can promise you one thing - if you ever think that synergy doesn’t have dirt on you, and that your tolerance for the awkward is too strong I’m sure that one of these teachers would be more than happy to remind you of a few memories you’ve been trying to repress - Joan and Jesse do it to me all the time. Besides, simply returning to Synergy and seeing all those other kids carrying on without you can be an awkward experience too.

I guess my speech is less advice, as it is a warning. You are about to enter the unknown and the strange. High School is a formidable time, and it tests you in many ways. While I can’t guarantee you’ll all have a great first week or month or year at your new schools I can tell you this: It’s going to be awkward. Consider yourself warned.

Best of luck.

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Christina Roper (croper)
fun talk, I especially like the part about not knowing where to put your hands while dancing.  so true.  I have vivid memories still of my first high school dance and much nervousness.
Jul 30, 2008  ( 1 comment )  
Kathy Carr (kathy)
Good way to describe high school freshman, "awkward"!  I like teaching incoming high school freshman, because they don't know what to expect, so I can lay down the rules and expectations for them and talk about values along the way!  (See our awkward group of freshman on their last day of summer school in my photo blog, "July Happenings". Good job!
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