Students Speak: Graduation Speech Extols the Virtues of an RPCS Education

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Ever heard the saying, “Girls go to Bryn Mawr to be doctors and girls go to Roland Park to marry doctors?”  In her graduation speech Maddie Kaufman, Roland Park Country School Class of 2012, takes issue with the saying and lovingly recounts years of experiences that gave her the tools to be a doctor…or anything else she chooses.

Maddie will attend the University of Miami in the fall. – The Eds.

I began writing this speech on my flight home from my senior project, returning from Milan, Italy. Now you all may be wondering why I am going off on this tangent. I had been lucky enough to travel to Italy once before two years ago. Upon returning home, my mother was waiting in the airport with a huge smile, but I returned this gesture by breaking into tears. With good reason, she was quite offended. It was nothing personal mom, I swear. I just was not ready to come home as I had fallen in love with Italy.

My recent return from Italy was entirely different. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip; however, I could not wait to return to the Roland Park Country School Class of 2012. Knowing the short amount of time I had left as a Roland Park student, I was so excited to get back to Baltimore. I have been so lucky to grow up with the most fun, weird, amazing, open-minded group of girls these past eight years of my life. As sad as I was to leave Italy, I really couldn’t wait to return to these 61 girls seated behind me.

I can honestly say that I would not have wanted to spend these past eight years at any other school. Many of you have heard the saying, girls go to Bryn Mawr to become doctors and girls go to Roland Park to marry doctors. One of my personal favorite responses to this statement was from Sandy Stewart, who said “and what’s wrong with marrying a doctor?” Another, somewhat more meaningful response came from Dylan Otterbein. She said that at Roland Park, one can go to school to become a doctor, but can also become other things, like artists, poets, engineers, et cetera. It is this statement that embodies what Roland Park has to offer; the possibility of trying anything and everything, without worrying about being good at it. I like to think I have taken advantage of this. I have been a member of a few RPCS sports teams including badminton, indoor soccer, outdoor soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and lacrosse. I have performed in chorus, the middle school musicals, Somettos, and hip hop squad. I have been a member of Athletic Association, Community Service Association, Visual and Performing Arts Association, Association for Afterschool Activities, and Spirit Committee. I am not exaggerating when I say you can try everything- I’m pretty sure I actually did. And we are so lucky to be able to do so! I was able to learn so much about myself, like that I really love singing. And that basketball just is not my sport. Or that while hip-hop was fun, I really should save my moves for when I am alone in my room. And although a few of my experiences in these different groups taught me what I should probably avoid in the future, I had so much fun trying them and became good friends with many students that I wouldn’t have really known otherwise. Roland Park offers a comfortable, accepting environment where you can try anything, and I too often overlook this fact. My friend who goes to Hereford High was baffled when I told her that juniors and seniors were allowed to play on junior varisty sports teams. At her school, and at many others, if an upperclassman cannot make the varsity team, he or she cannot play at all. I am so grateful that this is not the case at Roland Park, for if it were, a few of my sports careers would have definitely been cut short and I would not have had the fun that I had as a proud junior and senior member of JV sports teams.

Another thing that makes Roland Park special is the faculty. I used to be driven crazy by faculty appreciation week. I would see tables, designated for teachers, covered with platters of desserts that would make my mouth water. I would want to steal all of the food, thinking that the desserts should belong to me. But, the faculty really does deserve our full-time appreciation, not just that one week. I have had the funniest, most ridiculous, and most meaningful relationships with the majority of my teachers here at Roland Park. At RPCS, teachers are not only educators, but are friends. In Spanish class with Sra. Vasta, we would start class with “chisme,” or gossip. We would talk about our classmates’ new “novios,” or boyfriends, and Sra. would fill us in about her daughters’ whereabouts. With Mrs. Buzby, I would secretly unplug and plug in her power cord making her screen turn from bright to dark, and she thought there was something wrong with her computer for about a week. After she found out that I was behind her computer problems, she secretly took my rolling backpack and I only found this out when I came across her using it to roll her books to the chemistry room. With Mrs. Malfa, I was originally a shy student in physics class. By second semester, instead of walking into the room where class was held, I would have Natalie Polk drag me in by my leg. We would then stay after class every day and share random stories with her. At some point we transitioned from calling her Mrs. Malfa, to calling her mom. One specific moment this year really made me realize the close relationships you develop with your teachers at RPCS. After morning meeting one day, my classmate and I stayed in the Sinex talking to Mrs. Malfa, Mr. Anderson, and Mrs. R-T. Another adult entered the theater, apologized for disturbing us, and asked if we were in a meeting. That made us realize that we were not in a meeting but had lost track of time just chatting it up. In large schools, bonds and relationships between students and teachers like this are hard, if not impossible to find. At Roland Park, the faculty members are so much more than just teachers.

Now all in all I do love Roland Park, as I hope is obvious at this point; however, there were quite a few days when I had piles of assignments and thought the faculty (cough, cough Mr. Brock) was out to get me. And there were days when I wanted to verbally attack whoever created Roland Park’s cell phone policy. My class is honestly what has gotten me through my eight years here and I cannot express how glad I am have had them with me throughout middle school and high school. When I was reflecting upon this year with a few of my classmates, we began to think about how the freshman and the new students might think Roland Park is always like it was this year. But this reaaally was not a normal year. For one, goth is normally not a theme featured in Spirit Week. When I came to school in my $50 worth of wigs, skulls and chains only to find my class decked out as much as me, I was thrilled. Goth day was actually epic, and the best part about it was the fact that on the same day Bryn Mawr was having a spirit day in which they were supposed to wear pink; they looked really cute, and then there was us.

April Fool’s Day was another experience that shows our class incredible spirit. It used to be a tradition that seniors pull several pranks every year on April Fool’s Day, but this tradition was cancelled our freshman year because of excessive hazing. I’ll admit it, I was terrified. I will never forget the sight of one of the seniors sprinting down the hallway in pursuit of Mari Yamaguchi trying to get her to put down her apple. For the rest of the day every time the seniors saw Mari they would chase after her, referring to her as “apple girl.”

However, this April Fool’s Day, our class turned Roland Park into Hogwarts. We had a recording of Moaning Myrtle on repeat in the bathroom, turned the common spaces into the different houses of Hogwarts, and had duals in the hallways.  But the best part of the day was when the seniors performed in a flash mob in the middle of morning meeting, wearing our dementor costumes- leave it to our class to have the first flash mob in Roland Park history. We resurrected the April Fool’s tradition with our own personal touch, and did not make the underclassmen feel threatened. My classmates often complain about the freshman not being scared of us this year- well they are scared of a few students like Devon Hitt, Daisy Alaeze, oh and Maddi Winer. But I find this nothing to be ashamed of, it just shows how friendly we are as a class.

I think it is also important to point out how open-minded and accepting we are. I feel as if I can share anything with my class, without worrying about being judged. Consequentially, we are almost too comfortable with one another; I mean some of the stories I hear from Jassmin Young are just meant to be kept to herself.

Some of us spend our days in the library, some in the senior room, some in the junior commons. But when we come together, we really do great things, like make a senior video that I have been told is the best one the faculty has seen in fifteen years. If I could say everything I wanted to about our class, we would actually be here all day, so I do need to wrap things up.

One day as I was pondering life in the shower, as I always find myself doing- sorry about using all the hot water dad- I came to the realization that life is really just a series of memories. If you think about it, sure something happens in a moment, but then the moment is gone. Soon this speech and this graduation will be a memory, as my time at Roland Park will be. Throughout life, these moments pass and all that there is left to do is reflect on the memories. I can stand here today and honestly say that my time here with all of you has provided me with memories that I will savor for the rest of my life- memories that, upon reflection, make me smile, laugh, feel proud, feel as if I want nothing but to go back to that one moment- like sitting in total silence making wishes at 11:11 on 11/11/2011, or bursting through the gym doors on opening day, or watching Jessica Hwang kill it at the dance off. To conclude this speech, I want to thank you, students and faculty, not only for preparing me for the rest of my life, but for allowing me to be entirely myself and to cultivate a series of memories that I can remember and feel nothing but happiness. To you students, please keep Roland Park’s enthusiastic, odd, spontaneous environment alive. Take full advantage of all that RPCS has to offer. Juniors, you’ve got quite a bit to live up to next year. I wish you all the best of luck and hope that you will have as much fun as I have had. And to my class, I do not even have the words. You all have so much to offer and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for a group of girls like us. Keep in touch, I love you guys.

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