The following is a transcript of the June 2, 2018 address to the graduates of the class of 2018 given by Trevor Wertheimer '18. Click here for photographs from the 2018 graduation exercises.
Thank you Fr. Lahart, Mr. Labbat and the board of trustees. Thank you Dr. Tocchet, Mr. Mariano, Ms. Lehn, and all the teachers and staff that keep Regis from anarchy. And thank you most especially to all of you, the class of 2018. It is a genuine gift to speak on behalf of such an incredible group of guys.
I’ll be honest, when I was told I would be addressing you here today, my first reaction was one of nervous uncertainty – not unlike the one felt on the lunch line last month when the words “Entrée: Cajun-style Jambalaya” greeted us.
But fear not: Dr. Tocchet was there for moral support – not so much to brave the Jambalaya with me, but for the speech. To his credit, he tried to put my mind at ease, gently reminding me that firstly, “this is a great responsibility;” then following up with a real confidence-boosting “Trevor, the graduation speaker typically does a good job, and none has ever fallen completely on his face.” None has ever fallen completely on his face… watch this!
Thinking back to our first day at Regis, so many memories come flooding back: the expectations, the questions, and the Vineyard Vines(es?).
There was the colorful faculty to brave: Mr. Donodeo and his mustache; an “are you listening?” from Mr. Vode; …(ominous) and Ms. Chua.
There was also the challenge of navigating, literally and figuratively, the 405 other students in the building. They were there to remind us of our place on the Regis totem pole, showing us how far we had left to grow: intellectually, emotionally, and physically. And we’ve certainly come a long way. Still, it is a testament to the demanding nature of our school that I have yet to find that physical element.
But I choose to start at the beginning with a story from that first day, a spontaneous moment that captures the spirit of our graduating class and these past four years we have shared together.
As that day wound to a close, and all 135 of us sat quietly listening to the dean Mr. Serton wax poetic about the reasonable, always-justified nature of Regis discipline, the tension was palpable. Afterwards, a few brave souls mustered the courage to ask their brief questions. But mostly, we sat in agonizing silence, waiting for someone, anyone to break it and bring this endless day to a close.
And then, the hand shot up. We all turned towards him and then doubled back to the dean, eagerly awaiting this potential standoff: “Mr. Serton, are donut socks considered dress code?”
Naturally, we all laughed at Owen’s question even as the dean tried in earnest to answer it over our laughter. It was an important moment for us uncertain freshmen, revealing much about what was to come for us at Regis. Revealing much about who we were as a class.
And as I was writing this, reflecting on that first day, I was struck by how many similar examples I could share: some that exemplify our humility; others that made us laugh; but all that capture the essence of the class of 2018.
When speaking about the humility of others it can be difficult to adequately convey what is intended. And I struggled with this the most, trying to find the right words. So perhaps the best way for me to begin would be to simply ask a question so many of us have heard before: “Oh, so you go to Regis?”
Yeah, it’s a question we’ve all heard many times. And though sometimes it is asked admiringly, I have found that there are more times it is not. I suppose they see arrogance in the sea of khaki, in those lunchtime arguments at Neophytos, maybe even in our sweatshirts and the school pride.
But when I thought about those who ask that question, that sometimes-loaded question, that question whose answer is always prejudged, I realized how little they know about us as a school – and even less so about us as a graduating class.
They don’t know about the State champion basketball team that could win it all and lavish all the credit on their teammates. Never themselves. Or the city champion soccer team, who could lose a heartbreaking state championship game, then join their classmates in a rousing rendition of the alma-mater. The athletes, of course, let us only half-lie when we say Regis isn’t all academics.
They don’t know about the Hearn, a group of guys that could argue fiercely or win States, but never hesitate to walk out of a round and congratulate their opponents for a brilliant argument or a well-earned victory.
They don’t know about Catalyst, which gathered students in the service of causes higher than our own, showing us what being Men for Others truly means.
Or about Quest. The laughs shared, or the tears shed, or our unbridled honesty, all as we realized what our friends and family meant to us. They don’t know how thankful we are for the people in our life who gave everything so that we might be here today. They have no idea how thankful we are for all of you.
I know there is so much more I am forgetting. But that’s okay. You all can fill out the specifics, the memories that are distinctly your own. But even in those unique stories there is a bond we share. Because where so often high school classes quarantine themselves in the proverbial cliques – in clubs, or teams, or groups – we never did.
We were always there to shoot the breeze before class or to be there for support. We never took ourselves too seriously and always maintained that sense of humility we came in with. And it is that shared sense of humility that perhaps best defines us – as students, as sons, and as friends. We never lost that humble pride and gratitude felt when we would answer, “Yes, I go to Regis.”
Does that mean we always enjoyed going to Regis? No. And there is no way we could have made it through without our shared sense of humor, best described as sarcasm layered upon sarcasm -- served cold deadpan.
These jokes took the difficult things and made satire, they asked ridiculous questions and spit out even more ridiculous answers. A prime example? Those times when friends would ask each other, straight-faced, after failing a quiz, if Regis was easy. It wasn’t.
You needn’t tell us how silly or simple these jokes were and are – because we know. But we never cared. They were how we dealt with the things that were so often frustratingly out of our control. And they connected our grade in such a unifying, simple way.
A guy from Heritage could approach the track kids and leave them in stitches. Anyone, from all over the Regis landscape, could walk out of an insanely hard physics test, and start talking about whether they “LT” – liked that. Surprise: they didn’t.
The answers were always clear but never any less satisfying. That humor – it carried us through these four years. It helped us overcome the challenges Regis and life threw at us. And did it in a way that, rather than highlight the isolating differences, elevated our collective similarities.
And now, at 18, we are summoned to a higher calling: making our own bed and buying Ramen in bulk. College awaits us, but this time we walk into the unknown a bit more confident and a bit more prepared. Regis has prepared us well academically. Perhaps (a little) less so socially. It won’t be easy. We won’t be able to fall back on the familiar comfort of our beds or the dinner table. Indeed, we become small fish in a much larger pond.
And so, to you, the class of 2018: I was asked to impart some piece of wisdom, something to take as we go from here. I thought for a while about what I could say, what I might know that you don’t already. But if the past four years have taught me anything, it's that I’m in no position to offer profound guidance. I’m not above you but one of you.
And so I guess the only thing I want to leave you with is just not to forget: the laughs, the memories, the stories. Don’t forget these last four years. Because ultimately, we all are a reminder that in the race to mature, be older, and “set the world on fire,” holding onto our youth, our humor, our humility is itself a virtue. And it’s one that we didn’t learn from the teachers or the upperclassmen, but instead found ourselves in shared experience.
What we have learned here, to laugh, to love, to be humble, look life in the face and smile – it is these things that will undoubtedly sustain us.
Over the last few years, whenever I would see Ethan Brady in the hallway, he would ask a question familiar to us all: “Is it fun?” He would ask it when people had tests, or quizzes, or games, or tournaments; I promise you, the last thing on our minds was fun. Often, I would ignore it, thinking the answer all too self-evident.
But I can’t help but return to Ethan’s question here. Four years later, here we are. Four years of trying moments, sleepless nights, painful loss. Four years of tearful laughter, triumphant moments, shared enjoyment.
Through it all, we never forgot each other and found strength in the bonds - of friendship and brotherhood. And, all in all, it has been the best four years of our lives.
So, with the stress removed and the community together; with our families and teachers who gave us nothing but unyielding support here; with the knowledge of things learned and hope for things yet to come – I ask the question one more time to all of you: “Was it fun?”
And the answer this time returns to us with shared voice: Yes, it was fun. It was fun…
Thank you, and God bless you.