Kaitlyn Wood
Kaitlyn Wood

I’m going to try and keep this as short and sweet as Mr. A

Good afternoon Monsignor, members of the clergy, Mr. Abatemarco, members of the faculty and administration, my fellow classmates, parents, family, friends, and most importantly Caseys. I am beyond humbled to be able to speak to you all and close this momentous chapter of our lives.

Between the grueling four flights of stairs and the pilgrimage to and from the Cultural Center, we’ve figuratively and literally come a long way since we first entered the Peter’s Place doors Freshman year. As a class, we’ve evolved - both in our commonalities and in our differences. Our shared adversities have progressed from the dreaded red arrows on PowerSchool, to the SATs, to the Common App. We’ve broken world records, won state championships, and shined on stage. Our victories have been communal in nature, given that they’re a direct result of the combined efforts, support, and actions of us as the Class of 2018. We have adapted, overcame, and thrived. And, as much as our growth is connected, it is equally individual. Throughout these past four years, not one of us is the same as we were at freshman orientation. Nor is anyone the same as any other graduate in this room. Our high school experiences have allowed us to discover and fine-tune ourselves into the people that we are today. It was John Donne who wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” and Aristotle who said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Yes, we are individuals, but we are not alone. In fact, it is our individualities that make us collectively great. Our talents and achievements have stimulated and subsequently fostered our growth as a class. We are each other’s greatest sources of inspiration. This is a bond that we will carry with us throughout our lives as the Red Bank Catholic class of 2018.

As your peer who has only the same short eighteen years of experience on this Earth as you have, I’m not going to attempt to offer any kind of advice. I will, however, present a challenge: reconsider. One of my favorite books is Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. For anyone who has not read it, first of all, I highly recommend it. Secondly, it is about a sixteen-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield who has a few day to explore New York City before his parents learn of his expulsion from school. The best description of the book that I’ve heard is that it’s a kid giving his two cents when no one asked. When I was reading the book last May, I found myself getting irrationally upset with Holden. Maybe this is just me, but I wished that I could yell at him through the pages, in the most loving way possible. Nearly all of his confusions and hardships that he contemplated on had, what seemed to me, such obvious solutions. But then I wondered, do other people feel this way towards me? What clear answers does my first-hand involvement in my life blind me to? It was then that I learned the importance of reconsidering. Thinking with new perspectives is the only way to evolve as an individual and as a society. Sometimes, we have to take a step back and be the reader, not the protagonist. We have to make our realities expansive, for the truth is larger than our own perspectives. We have to search for the meaning between, not within the lines. The author can only present so much. It’s up to us to analyze, digest, and act. I’m still searching for the means to find my own obvious solutions, and I challenge you all to do the same. Given the people that you are, I’m confident that these reconsiderations have the capability to change the world.

Congratulations to the Red Bank Catholic Class of 2018, thank you for being a part of a friendship that will last all through our lives.