, Salem, MA

Local News

May 19, 2014

St. John's Prep Class of 2014 valedictorian speaks to peers

Transcript of Alec McNiff's speech at the 'Prep


What about our class? The Class of 2014. Well, Taylor Brock-Fisher captains the fencing team AND was nationally recognized for his Rubik’s Cube solving abilities by freshman year. Johnny Thomas runs on the football field like Bo Jackson AND can work the keys of the piano like Mozart. Liam Keneally took a hiatus from getting after it in the weight room and on the lacrosse field to audition for one of our school’s many drama productions, “The Laramie Project”. Not to mention he and Chris Casey have to be two of the shortest and thickest people I’ve ever seen. Sawyer Billings was elected president of the National Honor Society, served as a voluntary college councilor to everyone on campus whether he wanted it or not, AND got into Bowdoin, in case you didn’t know. Ian Robertson’s vines and Max Massaro’s tweets reek of originality. Christian Concessi…well I won’t go into all of the things that make him unique, you’ll just have to take my word for it. These are just some of our peers: the very same, everyday students we may hear in the caf discussing the recent Yoon test, their new bench press maxes, or maybe their latest confrontation with Mr. Richards regarding their overgrown hair (I’m speaking directly to you Kevin Coppinger). Clearly, these aren’t the cliché jocks, nerds, and artsy kids we may have anticipated in high school.

And we can’t forget the individuals who have helped foster this originality throughout campus: the faculty, teachers, and staff of St. John’s Prep. Our teachers love their students. Mr. Dupre. Do you know anyone like Mr. Dupre? Somehow, he keeps biology interesting while also magically creating snow days with his snow attractor and maintaining an uncontested command over his class with a little tool known as the randomizer. Mr. Hennessey left a successful career in finance to teach economics and coach hockey at the prep while encouraging his students to never sell themselves short, to always keep their ties tied until they get home, and even to start saving right out of college. Ms. Olson somehow manages to prevent a school of nearly 1,200 boys from rioting while also leading Student Council, keeping us on task, and showing us what a true leader looks like. Mr. Boutin worked in Tanzania for a few years and once carried a young boy with a cancerous foot across the countryside to the nearest hospital. He now teaches his students to overpower anger with gratitude. Señor Orlando recently earned his masters in Hispanic Literature and Culture for the benefit of his students, supervises several clubs on campus, AND can put up 315 for 3 on the bench (so he says). And I’m pretty sure Brother Arcadius has done everything. Clearly, these aren’t the stereotypical, cliché teachers I once thought I would meet in high school. These are people whom students, including myself, can just talk to, people who lend us money when we forget on dress down day, who congratulate us on our college acceptances and console us on our denials. Or maybe these are the people who call you “Alex” no matter how many times you remind them it's “Alec”. And, these are people who you can trust. Our teachers do not simply teach the required material, give us a grade, and go home. Our teachers tirelessly invest themselves in our education and growth as individuals. We cannot successfully achieve originality without the guidance and mentorship of these teachers.

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