Madison Sineff ‘24 Addresses Peers at Senior Night

The Class of 2024 selected one of their own, Madison Sineff ’24, to share her thoughts at their Senior Night, the penultimate gathering of this particular group of students. Here are her remarks.

Good evening, Class of 2024, and congratulations again on all of the amazing achievements we have accomplished together over the past four years—and for some even longer—as part of the MICDS community. I am honored to be standing in front of such an incredible group of peers, and I truly want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. It was extremely difficult to sum up what you all mean to me and what MICDS means to us in a single speech, but here’s my best attempt.

Although I’m sure most of us have tried to block out the bizarreness that was the 2020 pandemic, I want to take us back to that time of our first year of high school because, quite frankly, I think our thunder was unfortunately stolen. 2020 was supposed to be our ideal freshman year, where we would take our first big steps as high schoolers after getting dropped off by our parents at the flagpole and begin trying to navigate life with a mouth full of braces and a heavy backpack. But instead, when everything shut down due to COVID, it seemed that the entire school—the entire world at that—was also starting high school for the first time. Everyone became a freshman, and nobody knew how the rest of the school year was going to play out.

Still, this did not stand in the way of our wonderful teachers being able to not only teach material but also connect with students they had never met before through a screen. I love catching up with some of my freshman-year teachers in the hallway, and to think that my first encounters with them were via breakout room is shocking but also a testament to how lucky we are to have such caring and passionate mentors. Not to mention our amazing coaches who managed to still build strong team environments with the little time we were able to be on campus and even make playing in masks in the humidity worth it. I will never forget my experience with my first high school sport—tennis—that year. Being on that team is what truly helped me change from a terrified freshman to a determined teammate who was building lifelong friendships with girls across all four grades during a time when everything was so isolated.

As pandemic conditions began to improve and Zoom headaches were at an all-time high, things finally started transitioning more towards “normal.” We were able to experience a whole new round of “firsts” that certainly eclipsed the classic first day we missed in August. First day on campus during hybrid learning. First day of school with all four grades. First day of English class actually in Olson. First day of school without masks. The list could go on and on.

Even though it seemed like we were being restricted, especially with the aggressively taped arrows on the floor that made every hallway into a strict one-way street, I realized how much I had taken for granted being in the same environment with the rest of you. Whether it was working on problems together in class, sitting at the outside tables for lunch, or finding the comfiest STEM chairs to chill on during free, just being on campus surrounded by my peers was refreshing.

By sophomore year, many traditions were gradually making a return, and it was really nice to see our class participate in these high school events, even if we still had to wear masks for some. For example, I’ll never forget our first homecoming since I had no idea what to expect. With our first Ram Run, I remember all grouping together by McCreery in a mess of white-out face paint and red and green beads. When the seniors two years ahead of us raised the flag and charged towards the stadium, we followed the lead, and I am really going to miss fighting for air in the baby powder cloud while simultaneously trying not to faceplant in the sea of Rams.

Suddenly, junior year rolled around and we were somehow already upperclassmen. I think I can safely say that everyone developed a higher stress tolerance after being exposed to elevated levels of academic standards than ever before that year. However, while classes certainly became more challenging, workloads heavier, and the impending thought of college more daunting, these pressures only made our class stronger and proved our resilience. Through reading archives, History of St. Louis research essays, and AP tests, we stuck together through it all. Even when I would see classmates nervously rehearsing presentations or scrambling to study practice problems in Holecamp, I still never failed to see classmates listening to these presentations and giving feedback or helping a peer with practice problems when they got stuck. Even more, I loved being able to see classmates excel outside of the classroom as you all grew into more confident and passionate leaders in all fields. It was amazing to hear your beautiful voices and witness your incredible acting skills in Mean Girls and Blue Whale Café. My walk to ceramics became much more interesting as I got to see the new work of my peers, both 2D designs and 3D sculptures, fill the walls and halls near the library. Members of our class started becoming varsity captains, leading their teams through hard work by example. Classmates were running for higher student government positions, starting service initiatives, being promoted to club coheads, and even starting up new clubs that reflected their unique interests that we heard all about in assembly. It was amazing to see our class become more involved in all aspects of the community.

And just as we managed to survive the Magic House promnado, we finally made it to senior year. The weirdest part was experiencing the celebrated senior year activities that had been anticipated for the past four years yet seemed to go by in a flash. Now we were the ones aggressively paddling across and jumping into the murky pond, only to stink up A Lot 20 minutes later. We were the ones leading the Ram Run and advancing to the front row at every sports game. We were the ones gorging ourselves with an endless supply of food while matching in comfy plaid PJ pants. We were the ones making our way through the halls on the last day of school, managing to hug and smile between tears as we passed down our flag to the class of 2025. And even with hard classes, the dreaded Common App, quarter grades, and ALT essays, I know I speak for everyone when I say that I genuinely had the most fun with our class this year. I mean, what other time am I going to be scratching my wig during a French listening exam 30 minutes before performing a choreographed Pitch Perfect performance in front of the entire school? As many “firsts” as we had coming off of COVID, I think it was ironically during this year of “lasts” that our class bonded the most and became even closer with the realization that we won’t all be together next year. I realize how much I’m going to miss the little things that we experience as an MICDS student every day, whether it’s seeing the apple tree on the way to Olson, spinning around aimlessly in the blue and green May Hall chairs, occasionally getting hit by a Spikeball in the courtyard, or watching the entire school lighting up to the sight of a colorful Tuesday Treat wheel at assembly. Especially with everything we’ve done in the past few weeks, like senior sunrise and chalking up the school, I know that saying goodbye to being an MICDS student on Sunday will be extremely bittersweet.

Reminiscing on all of these memories, big and small, that MICDS has gifted us over the years, I’ve realized now what stands out most to me about this school. While MICDS is undoubtedly known for its rigorous academics, the most meaningful aspect of its reputation is how it enables students to learn what can’t be taught. Yes, we know how to do a close read on The Great Gatsby. Yes, we know how to solve triangles with soh cah toa. Yes, we know how to write a post-lab CER. But what we have gained not from the lectures themselves but rather from interacting with our teachers, peers, and community every day is a priceless sense of trust, ambition, perseverance, and kind-heartedness that will last us a lifetime and that you truly can’t replicate anywhere else. As members of the MICDS community, when we step in the classroom, on the field, on stage, or in the studio, we are far more than just students, athletes, performers, and artists. We are members of a family that have supported each other through thick and thin over the past years, and with the help of our excellent teachers, coaches, trainers, staff, and organizers, we are now at the point where we can walk across that stage Sunday and become alumni.

Those of you who had Mr. B as a teacher probably remember that among his many famous sayings was, “Don’t leave home without it.” Although this was typically used to remind us never to forget the formal definition of a derivative or a trig identity, I think it perfectly describes how our class can remain united even after graduation. As we all go our separate ways and continue exploring our diverse interests, whether it be anthropology or aeronautical engineering, I hope that everyone keeps a piece of the Class of 2024 close to them upon changing the world. The friends, memories, and differences that we’ve made will always be our class’s untouchable legacy, and I know I definitely won’t be leaving home without it. Thank you!