Dear MacLaren-knights, Highlanders, and Clanmembers,
Take a deep breath. In and out. Remember where you are, what classes you were in today. Don’t be stressed out about that paragraph that’s due in Lit/Comp, or the paper that Mrs. Hall is having you write about Dante. Remember that you are in the greatest school you could possibly be in. You are getting the best education you could ever dream of. Kids at other public schools have nothing on you.
I graduated from MacLaren three years ago, as one of the original four classes, and I’m proud to say that my MacLaren education has served me well in college. I can confidently bring up everything from Socrates to Beawulf in conversation. I have wowed professors with my knowledge of Greek traditions and culture, my knowledge of the Golden Spiral, and even the fact that I played the viola for five years. I am a well-rounded individual, and that all comes from MacLaren.
There are a few things you should remember, now that you are part of the MacLaren family. No matter if you’ve been at the school for one year or are on your seventh, you are important to the community of learners. You are going to learn things that no one else has learned in high school. I can probably count on one hand the amount of people I’ve met that have heard of James Thurber, or rattle off the dates of the Magna Carta’s signing or the Battle of Hastings quite like we can.
Be proud to wear that uniform. You’re representing the greatest school around.
As an alumna, I feel that it is my civic duty to pass down my knowledge as a college junior to you, my little successors, about what it’s like looking back, and the funny things I’ve noticed that we as alumnae do now that we’re gone.
The graduating class above you is always called the Seniors, and the group below you will always be the Juniors. There’s no way around it. When you’re Juniors, the oldest group will be the Seniors, and once you’re at the top, the class right below you is the Juniors. That’s how they’ll be remembered, even once they’re graduated too.
You will miss those uniforms, just you wait. Realizing you have multiple sets of clothing to wear whenever you want is a terrifying thing. And everyone is dressed differently. It’s very mismatched and disorderly and my Freshman year, all I wanted was my uniform to wear (I had to make do with my fleece, which I still love and wear.
Summer gets shorter every year. Embrace it while it lasts. Or, even better, summer drags on and on and all you want to do is get to your classes and not have to be an adult and work anymore. Don’t believe me? You will.
Your teachers at MacLaren will know you better than your professors, so don’t take it for granted. I’ve had some great professors here at Saint Mary’s, but I miss my teachers at MacLaren all the time. No one but Mr. LaBadie would put up with my incessant questions about Greek conjugations. Mrs. Hall made reading great pieces of literature as incredible as eating cake every morning. Mrs. Hrbacek retaught me to write and changed my entire thought process when it came to paragraph structure. Those teachers and their lessons will stick with you, and they will work hard to make sure you know what you’re doing. They’re the best.
Your clan is your life. Be proud to be in it. Sad fact of life: colleges don’t have clans (and sororities are not the same thing, don’t let them fool you…). Your clan is full of the most fascinating people. Learn their names, have pride in your clan, even if you lose every field day (Mine did, we embraced it). They’re literally the coolest thing about our school. There is no one cooler than the clan you were sorted into. Make up fun chants with them. Do crazy dances. Have ice cream. They’re lovely.
When you come back and things have changed, it’s okay. Thomas MacLaren School will always be my baby, as strange as that sounds. I helped build it from the ground up. And I miss it every day that my professors don’t have us read the entire Iliad or don’t have a poetry section in an ancient literature class. And I come back to visit, and the classrooms have all been painted, or the Forbidden Corridor is now in use (THE SCANDAL OF IT ALL). And you know what? That’s okay. It’s still the same old MacLaren. It’s just finally getting to do all of the things it wanted to do but didn’t have the chance to while I was there.
Now is the time for you to embrace all of that leisure time and learn! You will never have this opportunity again. MacLaren is a dear, dear place, and every day I miss it. I miss the great texts, the morning assemblies, everything that made MacLaren special. Take care of yourselves. You’ll do great after graduation. The world is waiting for you.
Mary Brophy, Class of ‘14