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In a Blink

By Nikita Nair ’20
Student Council co-president Nikita Nair’s commencement address for the 2020 ceremony.

Welcome friends, family members, siblings and teachers. For those who don’t know me, my name is Nikita Nair, but most people just call me Niki. To all the faculty, family and friends who helped us along the way, thank you. We are here today because of you.

Congratulations, class of 2020! We did it! Let’s give ourselves a big (car) honk.

I'll start off with this: Close your eyes and take a second to remember where we started. I’m waiting. Go ahead… close your eyes. Now think about where we are today. It all seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. 

Like many of you, I joined Country Day in Middle School. Others joined in high school, some of you have been here seemingly your whole lives. Regardless, I’m sure when you look back on the joys of being a preteen, you remember the missing teeth, scratched-up knees and crying because you got an 86 on a math test. We were just kids. Even now, it still feels the same. It’s strange to think that we’ll all be moving on to the “real world” after this. 

Throughout high school, in between Mr. Schall’s “academic” kahoots and Mr. Peritz’s life-lesson lectures, a common question was, “What was the purpose behind what we learned? When would we ever need to use trigonometry or iambic pentameter in our day-to-day lives?” 

And it’s mostly valid. Despite Ms. Valji’s efforts to ingrain the unit circle into our brains, we’ll probably forget most of our class information. However, the purpose of those classes was never entirely just for the information. 

High school is meant to prepare us for the future. Classes are supposed to force us to problem-solve. In real life, we’re often placed in situations where there isn’t one definite answer, and we have to choose or create the correct path ourselves. High school is about creating those experiences, so we are ready to face whatever challenge is thrown our way.

And we are more than ready to face those challenges. These last couple of months have been absolutely insane. My mom wanted me to mention that it’s unprecedented. Not the virus or what’s happening in the world—we are. All of us are now pros at teaching others how to use technology. We have fellow friends and classmates who are putting their lives on the line as essential workers. Some of us haven’t left our houses since March to protect our communities. Our class of 2020 is surviving through a global crisis. And we're still us. I'm still me. You're still you.

What I'm really trying to say is that our class will be able to do anything because whatever the future holds, murder wasps, toilet paper shortages, alien invasions, pandemics—you name it—we’re ready for it. I’d like to say I’m surprised by our ability, but I’m not. 

It’s what has made these last four years absolutely incredible. The best thing we can do as seniors is to create memories. I won’t remember the sleepless nights finishing my AP English Language essays or speed-reading through our neuro textbooks before a test. 

But I will remember the amazing memories I have with everyone, whether it be facilitating handshake competitions in the VASC quad, convincing our teachers and advisors to let us personally fund the Starbucks by the school, handing out leftover pizza from club meetings after we overestimated how hungry we were (pro tip: don’t order on an empty stomach). I won’t forget trying to figure out how to rig the annual pi(e)-a-teacher day in our favor, creating human shields to protect us from getting tackled by Mr. Padgett during senior assassin (don’t worry parents, he never succeeded). And I certainly won’t forget eating s’mores while experiencing Matthew Tibbetts’s legendary imitation during our senior retreat. 

I still can’t get over the fact that we went to school with debaters who took home regional and international rankings, with innovators who launched companies during classes, with performers who perfected their craft for hundreds to watch, and with athletes who made our women’s basketball team number one in the nation. Now that certainly deserves a honk. 

The best part about my high school experience was really getting to know all of you during these short four years.

But at the time, it felt so long, right? When you're in school, even that five minutes before the bell rings or before the Zoom call ends is so agonizingly long. But really, you blink, and you're sitting here in your cars waiting to graduate.

Isn't that amazing? In that one blink, we did all of this. We went from being scruffy kids playing wall ball at recess to people who have to pay taxes. We went from being new students to finding our own homes and communities on campus. Imagine what we can do with the rest of our lives? Maybe you'll blink again, and you'll have a family. Or you'll blink and you'll be the head of a company. We don't know what can happen in that short moment of a blink and that's what makes us so amazing. 

Throughout life, the only thing we really take with us is our experiences. Each of them allowed us to create the best four years we could’ve ever imagined and have made us into who we are today. But those experiences don’t stop at high school. 

In fact, they never do. We have the potential to make our lives exactly what we want them to be. Maybe life won't go entirely in the same direction that you'd expect, but that doesn't matter. You have exactly everything you need right now.

And really, this is the start. This is where we begin. It may not look too great right now, but faster than you know it, it’ll change. Some things will return to normal, while others will become a new normal. 

Goodbyes have never been normal to me. It’s too assured and a bit too harsh right now, so, as cheesy as it sounds, to the class of 2020, my classmates, my friends, my Country Day family, I’ll see you all later. Let's meet again after we blink.