Welcome Back to School by Senior School President Henry Meakem '19
Thank you, Mr. O’Connor. Good afternoon everyone! Once again, my name is Henry, and it’s my pleasure to be speaking to you all today. I hope your first week of school has gone well!
As we all begin another school year at Sewickley Academy, it’s easy to think that this year will be the same as any other, with the same daily routine: waking up, getting to school, taking notes in class, going to practice or rehearsal after school, returning home, doing your homework, rinse, repeat. But I’ve decided today to tell you a story that might give you a new perspective heading into this year.
This past summer, I worked in a factory where one of the jobs I performed was to build wooden pallets called “skids.” Skids are basically platforms that are 4 feet long and 4 feet wide that a variety of products are shipped on. In order to build these skids, I’d use a nail gun to nail the wood together to form the skid and build one on top of another, until I had stacks higher than my head. The process was boring, monotonous, and easy to not care much about. And generally, I’d build these skids with another guy named Lanny, someone who I didn’t think I had anything in common with nor much to learn from.
One day, we had been building skids for about two hours straight when a forklift came by to pick them up. The man driving the forklift, Dave, drove in at a bad angle and proceeded to accidentally knock over the entire 6 foot high stack of skids. He then told us we had messed up when building the skids and that we had to restack them, by hand.
Now I sort of shrugged it off, but Lanny took Dave’s comments about our quality of work personally, almost as an insult, and what he said next really struck me. Lanny said, “I don’t care what we’re doing, even if it’s as simple as building skids, but he can’t just say that to us. After all, we take pride in our work, no matter what we do.”
Taking pride in our work, that phrase really stuck with me for the rest of my time working in that factory this summer. It also makes me think about the work I’m going to do this year, and the learning we’re going to be doing this year. In my own experience, I’ve sometimes found it easy to treat schoolwork, or hockey practice, or whatever else I’m doing almost carelessly and fail to give my best effort. And maybe you’ve also felt this same way at some point.
You know what? Lanny doesn’t know it, but he taught me something else. It’d be really easy for me, and frankly all of us, to take the opportunity of being here at Sewickley Academy for granted. I think we’re all really blessed to be able to go to a school as great as ours. So because of that thought, and because of my summer experiences working with Lanny, I’ve decided to take this awesome opportunity I have and recommit myself to taking pride in my work, in the classroom, on the athletic field, and every day. My hope for you all would be that you also seize your opportunity and do the same.
Have a great long weekend and a terrific school year. Thank you!