Usually, it the Director’s graduation speech that is shared this time of year, but we felt Lila’s speech was so powerful and so telling of her time at Compass that we decided to give this space to her. Enjoy!
I was supposed to keep this brief, and Julia has been trying for years to teach me to be concise, but after six years here I have quite a lot to say.
Compass is not just school to me. It’s a community and practically a family of people who have chosen to come together to support the growth of young people.
I’m not going to attempt to cover all of the skills that I’ve learned here, that’s impossible. I’m going to tell you about some of the most significant fragments of learning I feel prepared with as I look onto my future.
As we become “adults”, whatever that may mean, we begin to realize that things don’t get easier, however, I wouldn’t say they get harder, either. They simply change. We acquire more responsibilities, but also gain freedom. Our futures are a bit ambiguous and terrifying looming ahead, but with that ambiguity we are blessed with endless possibilities of pursuing whatever our hearts lead us towards. Often times in life we find ourselves at the brink of large decisions. This is particularly scary because it feels as if our futures are entirely dependent on making the exact right choice. Something that relieves this pressure is the reality that there are no right choices. There are times when our choices result in something great, or result in consequence, but in any situation we’re able to learn from our experience. To me this means that all of life’s experiences are a win-win situation. There is no right destination, there is not one set pathway we are required to stick to. If there was one destination that we were meant to reach, there might be a few paths we would need to stick to in order to get there. Something that Amir Flesher used to tell us in his class is that the only thing we need to do is die. That is to say, our death one day is inevitable, but other than that, we have no obligation to do anything in particular. We are placed here on earth with the opportunity to make every single choice ourselves. We have so much power over our realities.
Compass regards each student as a unique individual. This cannot be stressed enough. The teachers here embrace our individuality by understanding our differences and allowing us space to move freely as we learn about ourselves. The task of learning about oneself is never ending, and I sure hope I never figure myself out, personally. Adolescence is a time of deep self inquiry and discovery, along with many “mistakes”, or as I like to call them, learning experiences. I could not imagine a place that better understands our need to mess up and try things out as we grow into independent, responsible young adults.
At Compass I’m able to focus on exploring who I am, and reflect as I shift and change. In part, the Compass school has shaped who I am becoming, but also, Compass has allowed me the space to expand however I need to. The teachers here possess a deep and undying compassion for each individual student. This is an essential quality to have, not just as a teacher or parent, but as a human being. It has been such an immense privilege to be supported by these people who genuinely care about us. The teachers aren’t just being compassionate towards us, they are teaching compassion to us. They lead by example, demonstrating what it means to be a supportive leader in a community.
The school’s value of community provides us with skills we will take with us everywhere. No matter where we choose to take our lives, we will be prepared with the ability to understand others, to be leaders, team members, good friends, and to choose what to do to best impact a group rather than just oneself.
Compass does an excellent job of showing us how to behave with a group mentality, and also how to fiercely pursue our individuality. We’re trusted with a lot of choice in our learning, which allows us to follow and explore our passions. Without autonomy, we’re not able to offer our greatest ability towards the world beyond ourselves. If we aren’t able to care for ourselves, we become a bare sandy desert. Self nurturance is the ability to allow rain showers and sunshine, which causes us to grow into a bountiful garden. With this nurturance, the soil bursts with an abundance of growth and life. I hope for each and every one of us to give ourselves what we need so that we have a bounty of life within our gardens to offer the world.
When people say that children are our future, they should be taken seriously. Each new generation makes up the future of this world, and so the environment in which we grow and expand is very important in providing us with the tools we have in our belts.
As young adults we are building foundations of who we are. Not unlike building a home, when we build ourselves we are responsible for selecting every single nail and beam that goes into who we are becoming. Unlike a house, though, we will never stop building or be completed.
When we look toward our futures, there’s no saying what will happen. Having cultivated so many skills here, we can be confident that no matter our course, we are competent to embrace the challenges that are most certainly headed our way.
I want to express my thanks to my family. Mom and Dad, you have backed me in every single decision I’ve made and trusted me to make all of my choices independently. You have been my emotional support system and my foundation. You have shared your wisdom with me and been respectful of my process, no matter how ugly it might get. Thank you for making it possible for me to attend Compass all these years, and thank you for being who you are. Thank you to the rest of my family for your love and support in everything I do, it means everything to have you actively in my life.
To my peers, thank you for learning, succeeding, failing, grumbling, laughing, crying, and growing with me. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to learn from you, and I wish each of you the very best in the limitless endeavors of your futures.
To my teachers–I don’t think the teachers could never ever receive enough thanks to cover all the things they’ve done to support us, but that’s one of the amazing things about teachers. So much of what they do is selfless. The teachers here give us a truly unique sense of belonging and nurturance in our school environment. Thank you guys for making me feel loved, appreciated, and seen for who I am. Thank you for helping me reflect on my growth, and challenging me to do things I didn’t know I’m capable of. Thank you for your undying support and compassion. Thank you for your generosity, your wisdom, and your encouragement. The impact you all have had on our lives is enormous.