Peter Grace ’23, Class President, Speaks at Senior Night

The Class of 2023 gathered for their penultimate time at Senior Night, the Friday before Commencement. The evening was full of awards, performances, and remarks from several student presenters. Here’s what Class President Peter Grace ’23 had to say to his peers.

During our final days leading up to the last day of classes at MICDS, my friend group and I had taped a calendar of April on the side of a wall in Hearth. At the beginning of each day, the friend who got to school the earliest would cross out the day in a red pen. It was, for lack of a better word, a countdown calendar with our last day, April 28th, marked very innocently as “last day in the abyss.”

With such a statement, it wouldn’t take a psychologist to interpret our emotions toward MICDS at that time. But despite the bluntly clear writing, an unspoken understanding about that final day was mutually shared among ourselves that was slightly less angry in nature and more nostalgic.

One day in my junior year, I received an email titled “senior night” addressed to me. It was an invitation to attend the current graduating class’s senior night with the understanding that in a year, I would be MCing and giving a speech during it. Ever since I received that email, I always wondered what I would choose to speak about, what piece of MICDS I would deem worthy to share with classmates, what advice I would consider most important to give at the end of our journey. But every time I would ask myself this question, I felt unprepared to give a speech of such significance. I held steadfast to the notion that my inspiration would come to me in a moment of brilliance and observation.

Fast forward to the last week of school, and for lack of a better term, I was effectively running out of time. Our last days went by in a blur. One day we were dressed up like cowboys and cowgirls, another I was carrying a microwave with my computer and computer science notes in it, and before I knew it, I was holding a giant white flag containing the words “Class of 2023” running through the halls of the Middle School high fiving kids on either side of me.

This should come to no surprise to anyone, but stepping on the MICDS seal outside in the courtyard at the conclusion of our senior walkthrough came as an extremely emotional moment to many. But why? Did MICDS not have us writing six pages of our ALT paper that we strategically procrastinated on the night before? Did MICDS not have us take three physics quizzes in a week? And what about the infamous History of St. Louis Documentary night where half the class was still active on the rubric document ’til three in the morning? Why were we emotional about leaving a place that asked so much work of us? Despite all the work we did at MICDS, our class embraced each other in tears during our final moments at this school. As I tried to piece together the reason behind my own and my classmates’ emotions, I suddenly found inspiration for the speech that I present to you tonight.

Many of you may not know this, but the MICDS campus is over 100 acres in size, with 48 interscholastic sports teams, a sustainability award-winning STEM building, and a student-to-teacher ratio of 9:1. The common denominator between all of these impressive statistics is the sheer amount of opportunities MICDS offers to its students.

See, at most schools, you have to choose between playing a sport or being in a theater production. At MICDS, play rehearsals start at 6:30, an hour after our sports practices let out, enabling our student-athletes to participate in our productions. Any student who might be casually interested in fitness can walk down to the north gym and get set up with a sophisticated college-level workout program in a matter of minutes. We had designed times in our schedules to directly encourage one-on-one tutoring with our teachers because that is one of the most effective forms of teaching (believe it or not, that was the point of collab). We even had unlimited ice cream assuming you were willing to wait in the line.

These opportunities allowed each individual student to craft his or her personalized experience here at MICDS. It is then because of this personal attachment reflected in the student’s schedule that they formed a unique emotional investment to this school.

As the days went on since our last day of classes here at MICDS, I’m sure a lot of you have experienced what I call the “senior sleuth,” where we’ve spent the last two weeks lurking around the campus taking our AP exams and giving side eyes to the juniors who have taken over Hearth a little too fast. While it can be an exhilarating experience to be given this sense of freedom, it also bears a strong sense of nostalgia as the campus seems to run on, unaware of your lack of presence.

See, it is easy to highlight the times of struggle and discomfort we may have experienced here at MICDS in terms of the hardships we endured. But as you may have realized in this short time away from MICDS, the struggle and discomfort came with a time of intellectual and personal growth. For each time of struggle came with a moment of laughter with a friend, a goal on the field, or a memory made on the stage. Because of MICDS, I am fully confident that every student in this room has the experience and skill set to succeed at whatever higher level of education the student may choose and in life. Tonight is not only a celebration of our accomplishments of the work that we completed at MICDS, but also a celebration of the opportunities we took advantage of and the subsequent cherished memories we created as individuals, and as a class.

As we prepare ourselves for graduation this upcoming Sunday, I invite you all to think of the memories you have made here at MICDS that you will cherish most. Class of 2023, as I address you for the last time as your president, I thank you for your belief in me and yourself, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of every opportunity now and for the rest of your adult lives. Thank you.