Please enjoy this Chapel Talk by our Senior Class Co-President, Chris Picard ’19, delivered on May 16, 2019, about two weeks before his graduation.
Before coming to Tabor, I went to a large public high school in Concord New Hampshire. Concord High School did not have the funding that Tabor does and the school suffered because of a tight budget. Simply put, the school was poor compared to Tabor and the students had very limited opportunities. I think one of the best ways to paint a picture of what the school was like is to talk about our lunches. On most days, my friends would eat a “Bag O Taco.” Here is how this delicious concoction was made. First, the lunch lady would take a bag of tortilla chips and hit it with a hammer until the pieces were small. Then she would take the ground beef out of the freezer and put it in the microwave. Finally, she would take out lettuce, cheese, and canned tomatoes. The lunch lady mixed all of these ingredients in a plastic bag and then she shot a gun of sour cream into it.
The classroom scene was not glorious either. Each class had over thirty students; half of which were staring out the window or falling to sleep. Now I should say that not all parts of Concord High School were terrible, but as I compare that school to Tabor, I realize how fortunate I am.
When I arrived here, I had one primary goal. I wanted to become a division one hockey player. I was recruited here by Coach Dineen and I thought that I was capable of playing at the highest level. I always did well in school, but I dreaded going to class every day and I counted down the minutes to the weekend. This changed very quickly once I arrived in Marion thanks to the people here.
To start, I would like to give an anecdote about my Mom. It is Saturday, January 26th and the boys varsity hockey team just lost 5-1 to Lawrence and 7-1 to St. Marks—at home...two days in a row. As expected, I was thoroughly embarrassed and quite sad after this game. I’m not going to lie, it is not easy getting smoked at home, and watching all of your fans file out of the rink after the first period. After the game, my Mom sensed that I was upset. We were outside of West House in the late evening and I was quiet. My last hockey season was going to be a losing season. Some of my last home games, were embarrassing and unsuccessful. Seeing me quiet, shut down, and sad led my Mom to ask me a very simple question:
“Chris, have you found joy?”
I stood there for a few moments, unsure of how to respond. After thinking, I replied to her:
“Yes, I have”
She wouldn’t let me off the hook with that short answer and she pressed on saying
“What is the joy in your life?”
I then explained that it was my friends, it was my dorm parents, it was my teammates, my classmates, and my teachers. It was working hard and finally seeing success. All of these things are what bring me joy in my life and I never fully understood this until I vocalized my emotions. After talking to my Mom, I realized that hockey is not what brings me the most joy. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the sport. But I know that my Tabor experience has been great for many reasons in addition to hockey. I am cognizant that hockey has played a huge role in getting me in to this school, and I will forever be grateful for that.
However, this conversation with my Mom made me think really hard about how I am living each day. Each day when the sun goes down, I look out the window at the harbor, and ask myself a simple question: “where is the joy in my life?” And I know that if I can’t answer that question without hesitation, I need to keep working to find what I love.
Thank you, Mom
Before this year, I never knew who Mr. Meleo really was. I just remembered that he was the guy that occasionally wore a military uniform and when he gave a chapel speech last year he made a weird sound to confirm that we were listening. When I stepped into his class this year, I was anxious about the workload and how challenging the content would be. However, I soon found out that Mr. Meleo focused on the mathematics instead of the grades and he worked to cultivate an appreciation for the subject in his students. With the stress of grades mostly removed, we all were able to delve deep into the content and when we were having a bad day, we would talk about other real-world problems that were pertinent to our lives. I remember early on in November we did science-kahoots for part of a class, one day in April we spoke about fractals for 35 minutes, and we have learned multivariable calculus in the Beebe. Not only has Mr. Meleo been an effective teacher, but he also has taught me that grades aren’t everything. Sometimes it is ok to just enjoy the process of learning and appreciate the beauty of math—or any subject you are learning. I hope by the time you graduate you can reflect on your experience—as I am today—and realize that you have had a great teacher who has inspired you to learn for the sake of learning, and not only to get good grades or to get into a prestigious college.
Thank you, Mr. Meleo
Over the past two years I have done some soul searching to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Although I am still not exactly sure, I have come to a realization that I want to get outside of myself and do something noble with my life. There have been many individuals who have steered me in this direction, and Mr. Moore is one of them.
Last year in class, Mr. Moore’s passion was palpable and he often times went on tangents discussing matters close to his heart. I remember he showed us a movie called “The Cove.” This movie was about dolphin harvesting in Japan where thousands of dolphins are savagely butchered turning the sea around them crimson with blood. Mr. Moore was clearly moved as he was silent and noticeably upset. With tears welling in his eyes, I remember him telling us that we need to put our ego aside and focus on the world around us. We are merely recent residents of this Earth—the newcomers—and we should never treat others as lesser than us.
It is experiences like these that I will remember when I leave Tabor. I will not remember the tests or the individual homework, but instead the touching moments like the one I just shared. Sure, Mr. Moore taught me environmental science. But that is not what makes him significant. More importantly, Mr. Moore taught me to care and to find what sparks a fire in my heart. It doesn’t always matter what it is —whether it is a sport, a game, or a field of study—find what you love, find your calling, and when you do, you will find fulfillment.
Thank you, Mr. Moore
This spring, my father had a major surgery. Before this surgery, he wanted to eat Chipotle one last time because he wouldn’t be able to for the foreseeable future. I remember walking into Chipotle on a Friday evening and while waiting in line I looked up at the counter and recognized two faces. I saw Christian Owusu and another girl named Hannah. They were both in my English class during my sophomore year at Concord High School. Although I do not know Hannah that well, I was good friends with Christian before I left. I had many good memories with Christian as he was a bright kid, he was funny, and he had a good head on his shoulders. Unfortunately, Christian was never dealt the hand that I was.
He goes to the community college in Concord and he works full time at Chipotle. Now I am not saying that this is a bad thing, because it is not. I do not know his future plans. I do not know whether he is happy, and it would be fake of me to say that I do. What I do know is that Christian was never as fortunate as I was. Christian was not able to attend a prestigious boarding school, choose between ten different food options in the dining hall, and he was not around the remarkable people that I am around today.
I do not mean to wag my finger at you and tell you how hard my life was at public school. I’m actually trying to do quite the opposite. You see, Concord High School and Tabor Academy are vastly different places. Seeing Christian in the Chipotle reminded me of how lucky I am to be here. It is easy for us to go through our days complaining about the trivial aspects of Tabor life like not being able to wear hoodies during the school day. But when we focus on all of these small issues, we often forget the big picture: Tabor is truly a wonderful place.
I have learned countless lessons from Tabor that have shaped me into the person standing in front of all of you today. However, I think one of the most important lessons I have ever learned here is to live my life with gratitude. Every morning I wake up and am grateful for my loving family, my supportive friends, and my amazing school. I challenge you all to do the same each day, and if you are unable to find something to be grateful for—the fault might lie within yourself.
Thank you, Christian Owusu
To conclude, I would like to touch on something that has been on my mind these last few weeks. I have found myself thinking about endings and what they mean to me. The end of a movie, the end of a friendship, or the end of a chapter of someone’s life. Often the end of something we love results in sadness, pain, or regret. But here is the thing: endings do not have to be this way. Soon we seniors will leave Tabor and our time here will come to an end. And that is OK. Because A thing isn’t beautiful just because it lasts.
Thank you, Tabor Academy