Jack Morris ’21, Valedictorian, Speaks at Commencement

Jack Morris ’21 is the Valedictorian for the Class of 2021. Here are the remarks he delivered at Commencement in May.

Good afternoon and congratulations to everyone. Through all the obstacles we’ve faced, being here today as graduates of the Class of 2021 is truly an amazing achievement. None of us could have done this alone, though, and I would be remiss not to thank those who have provided us guidance and support on this journey: Mr. Ludbrook, Mr. Small, and Mr. Rainey, thank you for being our North Stars for the past four years. Teachers, thank you for teaching us how to think, not what to think. And parents, thank you for trusting us, pushing us, and supporting us through thick and thin.

On a day so focused on the future, I wanted to take some time to highlight the past. How did we get here? How did we come from clueless kids with fingers up our noses to educated, prepared, mildly-competent graduates?

Well, my first memory of MICDS was a fun little tradition from Middle School which we called “bush pushing.” I am 100% confident that everyone who was here during 7th or 8th grade fondly (or not-so-fondly) remembers it. This aptly-named activity made us all hyper-vigilant, constantly on our guard, attempting to avoid being flung into one of the strangely dusty bushes between the Black-and-White Hallway and the Freeman Arts building. When you did get bush-pushed, it seemed impossible to get out, but you always dusted yourself off and bush-pushed the next person you caught off-guard. Bush-pushing.

Hopeful and still a little dusty from the bushes, we arrived at the Upper School. I’m sure you all remember, but our classes were split by gender in Middle School. That, combined with the dozens of new faces who arrived freshman year, thrust us into a period of social turbulence and confusion. We had ample opportunity over these years to implode; the constant cycle of gaining and losing the ice cream machine, being displaced from our free period locations, surviving enrichment periods, tackling 20-minute presentations and 15-page papers, AP exams, college essays, and incomprehensible amounts of work could have broken us, but it didn’t.

This class accomplished so many amazing things in this incredibly short four-year span. We started a new sport at MICDS—yes, this is a cyclocross shoutout. We put on plays and musicals that challenged how we all perceive and interact with our world. The Soccer Team won State for the first time ever. We fought for positive change in our communities through service and activism. We’re headed off to some of the most amazing universities in the country next year, and we somehow managed to continue to support each other through a virtual world.

Now, we unite as a class for the last time. This is the last time we get to share this space together. Whether you perceive that as a positive or a negative is beside the point, but one thing is undeniable: this community—and the people who make it, you, us—is sacred. Not only because of our accomplishments. Not only because of our shining moments. But because of bush-pushing and all of the other hijinx we got ourselves into during our time here. You all have helped me recognize that all the moments we spend together are truly sacred moments. This is only true because of the constant effort—conscious or not—that we all have put into nurturing this community. This campus is just a clump of buildings and grass and fences and sidewalks, but the people who I have had the pleasure to inhabit it with have made it mean far more than anything you can see on the surface.

As we exit this physical space, as we leave each other to travel across the country next fall, we retain our ability to find the sacred in the mundane. We retain our capacity to create community from scratch. No matter what flings us into a bush in the future—and I know lots of things will—we retain our ability to get up and dust ourselves off. But the childish inclination to search for another person to bush-push has been replaced by a desire to free others from the bushes, to dust them off, too, and to forge lasting relationships in a disjointed, unknown, brand new community. You all have created that desire in me, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Thank you.