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Be Present or Be Involved

By Hadley Forbes II, Grade 12
I haven't been on this earth for a long time but during my short time, I have noticed something that has affected my life.

We all live our life until we die, but for me, the most important aspect is time and what we do with it. I have realized that throughout life you can “be present” or “be involved.” I want to talk about both of these ways of life, but in order to do so, I will share a bit of my story.

This is my 4th year at Stanstead, my last year at this wonderful school. My first year at Stanstead, I was just here. I stayed in my room most of the time and only did activities that were mandatory, and because of this, it affected my schooling. I got lots of hours, I even failed that year and had to repeat 10th grade. It just wasn’t fun, to say the least.

I left Stanstead and over the summer I really had to reflect, because it was the first time ever failing at anything in my life. After reflecting, I realized the reason I didn’t like the school was because I wasn’t even a part of it. I did nothing. I was just there. 

When I came back for my second year, I remembered the previous year. I wanted to get more involved socially and in school activities. My second year at Stanstead was much better. I can actually remember most of it. It wasn’t composed of me just being in my room playing games. I had a fun social year. The thing about Stanstead that I really love is that it gives you the tools and opportunities to master the balancing act of both social life and work ethic. By the end of the year, I was feeling good, I had lots of friends and fun, but when I looked at my grades, because I focused so much on the social aspect, I still was not fully present for school. I left Stanstead that year feeling good that I knew people but disappointed that my grades were sub-par.

In Grade 11, I was friends with most of my classmates and I was feeling positive. I made a choice that year to be involved in everything the school had to offer. I really wanted to maximize my time at Stanstead. I became involved in my schooling and noticed a big difference. I was finally truly enjoying my time at school and it wasn’t boring because I was involved. I made the most of my year. I would be participating in activities on the weekend, hanging with friends, and doing homework. I always had something to do. Being involved changed the way I saw Stanstead. It went from a place I had to be for 8 months out of the year to a place I wanted to be, all because I really got involved.

When March break came around in 2020, we all know what happened after that. I found myself thinking, “Wow, I actually miss being at Stanstead, being in this beautiful community of students and faculty.” All summer long, while I was home in the Bahamas, I just wanted to come back. I missed this place so much that when it came to returning this year, I took a cargo plane off my island just so I wouldn’t be late and miss a second of my last year. 

Fast forward to now, standing in front of all of you. Sharing my love for Stanstead and how it made me a better person. My first year I was a new student just like some of you. Always in my room just physically present, compared to me today. A new person, whose iPhone screen time has gone down 71% because I’ve been making the most of my time at this wonderful school.

In closing, don’t just be here, get involved in life. I’ll leave you with this quote by Mark Twain. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Don’t let the Stanstead experience be on the list of disappointments because you weren’t involved.