On Thursday, October 26, Headmaster Bill Burke, Assistant Headmaster Mike Nerbonne, and National Honor Society moderator Sean Albertson inducted 48 St. Sebastian's students into the Sr. Evelyn C. Barrett, O.P. Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Assistant Headmaster Mike Nerbonne welcomed everyone in attendance and shared the following words:
“No bird soars in a calm.”
The famous Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, spent countless hours on the shore of the sea observing birds in flight looking for clues and insights about flying which would help them in their quest to fashion the first motorized airplane. Wilbur Wright penned these words, “No bird soars in a calm” when he realized from his observations that it is the resistance of the wind which gives the birds the lift they need in order to soar through the sky.
I want to suggest this morning that Wilbur’s insight has an important relationship to all that we are celebrating today, namely that the greatest achievements, including the many accomplishments of you, our students, in every area of School life, are possible only through struggle and adversity and challenge and difficulty.
In 1780, Abigail Adams wrote to her twelve-year old son, the future President John Quincy Adams, at that time in Paris with his father who was negotiating a peace treaty with Great Britain.
Mrs. Adams wrote to her son, “It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific nation, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.”
Later in her letter Mrs. Adams went on to add, “All history will convince you of this, that wisdom and insight are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life, and form the character of the hero and the statesman.”
Helen Keller, no stranger to struggle and adversity in her own life once wrote about the development of character, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
The poem “Good Timber” by Douglas Malloch beautifully and artfully conveys this notion that it is our struggles and challenges and adversity which shape us, and make us better and stronger, and able to achieve our highest aspirations. And that it is actually impossible to reach our highest goals without great resistance and obstacles in our path.
So, “Good Timber”:
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
The National Honor Society aims to create an enthusiasm for scholarship, stimulate a desire to render service, promote leadership, and develop character. Students with a minimum 85 percent grade average, who complete an essay application and have the support of their teachers and advisor, are eligible to apply for this honor.
Those inducted today include:
Class of 2024
Nicholas A. Adams, Adric I. Denis, Benjamin R. Stavaridis
Class of 2025
Rhys W. Amorosino, Donald P. Armstrong III, Peter J. Bachiochi, Timothy Bollin, Cooper J. Bolton, Justin P. Bourque, Lucas B. Candiotto, Connor J. Carroll, Declan H. Carroll, Kaelan C. Chudzinski, Austin Ciongoli, Ty Ciongoli
Benjamin D. Corbett, Lucas C. Cox, Connor B. Crane, Liam N. Cunjak, Matthew E. Doherty, Ryan W. Farley, Charles R. Hinman, Travis A. Hodge, Maxim D. Kalinichenko, Brendan P. Keaveney, Brian M. Keene, Robert R. Keller IV, Jack M. Knight, Chandler G. McClements, Theodore C. McKeigue, Benjamin G. Molinsky, Jake T. Mulrey, Teddy M. Mutryn, Avedis B. Najarian, Luc J. Olivier, Manuel R. Pereira, Alexander C. Perkin, Jacob A. Pichay, Julian J. Singh, Luis E. Sosa Espinal, Peter A. Stavaridis, Finnegan L. Straub, Joseph B. Sullivan, Hugh P. Turner, Robert W. Wallace, Nicholas P. Ward, Daniel W. Yang, Owen L. Zhang