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A Shared Success

Senior Chapel Speech by Cole Aldrich '16, University of Virginia '20

I believe that the brotherhood that we all share at St. Sebastian’s is unparalleled.

Mr. Burke, Father Arens, Members of the faculty, fellow students, and invited guests.

For my final chapel speech, I want to talk about what St. Sebastian’s has meant to me. I really believe the community of St. Sebastian’s is unique. This is more than just a school. This is our second home. In fact, a few of us spend more time here than our real homes, and that’s great too. For the newcomers and many of you younger guys out there, this feeling of a second home may not be a sense that you have quite yet. But by the time you are a senior, I am confident you will understand how lucky we all are to be here. The brotherhood is clearly something very special. And the breadth of educational activities and opportunities that have been constructed by Mr. Burke and the faculty is impressive.

I believe that the brotherhood that we all share at St. Sebastian’s is unparalleled. I doubt there is any other place where students are so bound to each other. In my case, it would have been impossible for me to take St. Sebastian’s for granted with my parents constantly reminding me, almost every day, how incredibly fortunate I am to be here. But seriously, as the years have come and gone, I have gained a much better appreciation for how great this place really is and how lucky I am to be here. Now, as a senior, I realize that I will really miss St. Sebastian’s. The brotherhood and the unified community is something that I seriously doubt we will ever experience again in quite the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident that we will go on to good schools and interesting jobs and activities but the camaraderie that we have experienced here will be difficult to replicate.

On the subject of academics, it’s easy to sense the strength and uniqueness of the brotherhood. This is a student body that works hard, but also supports each other. Getting the best grades is by no means a fierce competition as we know it is at many other prep schools. Most importantly, Sebs is a community where we also want our peers to be successful. When someone is struggling to complete an assignment there will always be a friend to help out. And if you need more than a little help, the teachers are here as a more than adequate safety net at all hours of the day. I have heard that a line forms at Mr. Palmaccio’s room at 4 in the morning. That’s a little early for me but I may very well be in that line this year.

Extracurriculars at St. Sebastian’s also bring out the best traits of our brotherhood as we are all striving for shared success in sports, clubs, and other activities. Clearly, Sebs is a powerhouse in ISL sports with many great seasons over the years. But there are so many other extracurriculars that the faculty has made available to us to help us grow into well rounded and better equipped students. But for those of you who want some serious competition, you really haven’t lived until you have squared off against some championship debaters at the vaunted St. Paul’s or Exeter schools. These teams have some very seasoned and extremely skilled debaters. I’ve enjoyed the debate team and even though we haven’t always come out on top, I have always felt confident because Mr. Nerbonne prepared us really well. I also think that if you were going to do only one activity at St. Sebastian’s, debate should probably be the choice as it has to be the one thing we will all be doing constantly, in one form or another, for the rest of our lives.

As I reflect on the uniqueness of St. Sebastian’s, the extracurricular that has long been the hallmark of the school is community service. Mr. Burke’s order of the day stresses not only working hard and loving god, but also helping others. Many of the faculty members like Mr. Eaton have shown us the importance and fulfillment of community service. Serving food at The Paulist Center on a Saturday morning is an eye opening experience. There are so many people that appreciate a helping hand which we can provide. We all know we are blessed to be here and that giving back to our communities is one way we can show our gratitude for the gift that we have received. Just this past summer, I bumped into a younger St. Sebs student helping out at a community service activity that I have been involved with over the years. Clearly, the school’s message is being heard by us students.

Finally, to my classmates, let’s make this our best year but not our last year. What I mean by this is that I hope St. Sebastian’s will be central to all of us for the rest of our lives. One of the best ways to increase the chances of this happening is for us to do a lot of great things together as a class this year. Let’s keep the brotherhood strong this year and beyond. And most importantly, let’s make our parents, teachers, and other supporters here at St. Sebastian’s proud of the men we become after we graduate.

Thank you.