Upper School Celebrates Love of Learning During Honors Assembly

St. Margaret’s Upper School celebrated academic scholarship and a love of learning during its fall Honors Assembly in Hurlbut Theater on Friday.

“We are here to honor the pursuit of academic achievements and the hard work that goes into your classroom success,” Upper School Principal Jeneen Graham said. “I am so proud of each and every one of you who has set an academic goal and achieved it. I am so proud of all of you who are doing a little better this semester than you did last semester. And if those academic goals lead you to find your name on the honor roll, I am very happy for you.

“I do want to remind you, however, that whether you are on the honor roll or not, your GPA does not define you. You are all so much bigger than a cumulative number and I never want you to reduce your achievements and accomplishments to a single metric, ever.

“You are the full set of your experiences and so much bigger than a number. You are artists and athletes, debaters and writers, mathematicians and scientists, historians and linguists, brothers and sisters, daughter and sons, friends and mentors and you are our beloved students. We want you to achieve your highest potential but more than anything, we want you to love the process. Learning is a joyful pursuit and it is definitely a life-long process—not an outcome.”

The assembly featured moving remarks that reflected on the learning process by Dr. Graham and Assistant Principal James Harris, as well as by seniors Grant Kinsey and Keely Yeargin.

Grant spoke of the learning journey of himself and his peers, reflecting on his love of the study of the Chinese language and comparing it to the Chinese Bamboo tree that suddenly sprouts 80 feet after years of apparent dormancy. While the sudden growth may seem miraculous, he said, it’s the product of years of nurturing and developing a strong foundation.

Like the nutrients required for the Bamboo Tree to ultimately skyrocket upwards, I think the love of learning that characterizes us as St. Margaret’s students is at work solidifying a foundation of intellectual curiosity and academic prowess within all of us,” Grant said. “Amidst all the focus on our futures, I’d urge you all to really recognize the forum at our fingertips here at St. Margaret’s for the exploration of our interests, and to embrace this four-year period of foundational growth.”
Keely, meanwhile, reflected on how a love of learning and reading has led her to “live a thousand lives” as George R.R. Martin famously wrote.

“I can apply and communicate further and better than before, carrying the weight of past examinations, of lives upon lives, of what has been done and what will be done,” Keely said. “The learning is visceral and personal, like a diary, a letter, a life. And it is by way of that learning that the powerful play goes on, and we all beat on, ceaselessly here.”
Mr. Harris closed the assembly, saying “Those of you who met your goals, those who fell short, and those who forgot to set goals to begin with—regardless of where you stand, there is someone in this space who loves you, who cares for you, and who can’t wait to see what you do in the years to come.

“In closing, love yourself, forgive one another, give appreciation to those people who deserve it, and try to get better at something every day.”

The assembly also featured a rousing performance by Tartan choir and band students performing “Listen to the Music.”
Click here to read Grant Kinsey’s speech.
Click here to read Keely Yeargin’s speech.
Click here to see the list of students receiving Honor Roll and Head of School’s Honors.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California