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Excerpts from Commencement Speaker Ben Walsh's Remarks

Commencement Speaker Best Independent School in Chester County

You all graduate from this school having acquired many tools and you must put them to work learning all the great things you’ll learn as you grow older, but for everything you are told, for everything you think you know, make sure you understand the virtue of knowing that there are things you do not know yet. Instead of relying on facts, dig beyond them to discover truths. I specifically want to talk to you about three things: facts, beliefs, and adventure - which is just my fancy way of defining, in a single word, the trying of new things.

Some things, such as beliefs, are neither true nor false. Beliefs can be wrong, that’s accurate, but there are many beliefs that you will form over the course of your lifetime that are neither true nor false and cannot be proven or disproven. Beliefs are very special and I believe that if you really believe in something, then you shouldn’t let anyone tell you you can’t believe it. Beliefs are inherently influenced by our understanding of what we know to be true and of the observable world.

In that vein, we all must be open-minded in what we believe - ever looking for evidence for our beliefs and even against them. Our beliefs are best informed by evidence and we must understand them and the evidence for and against them holistically. Never be too set on what you believe and certainly do not take what is said in favor of your belief at face value. Try to understand why the people who agree with you do so. Perhaps they have similar motives for their beliefs, perhaps they have different ones. Nonetheless, understanding why others agree with you broadens your perspective and teaches you about your own narrative.

Truths and beliefs are informed by what you know and the observable world, but what good is an observable world if you choose to shelter yourself from it. Adventure is the last piece of the puzzle I am creating for you today and although not as heavy as beliefs or truths, it is equally important. As you move forward in life, you will find opportunities all over the place to try new things. There are two ways to go about doing this. You can try something that you have never tried before, or you can push the boundaries of what you already know you enjoy. I strongly believe that you should try investing in a new opportunity only if it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable at all or makes you only a little bit uncomfortable.

Truth, belief, and adventure. These three things triangulate to form the most important parts of you. You form your beliefs by knowing, being taught, and adventuring to learn, understand, know, and experience more. Similarly, you could not go on adventures, or know which ones to go on, without some knowledge and a belief about your adventure and what experiences you will gain. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if you try to find truths without believing there is anything to find, or without the adventurous means by which to find them, they will elude you forever.

The challenges are ancient, but your contact with them is new and fresh. Take advantage of your youth, your high school and college days to seize the day, break free from the cave, and be aware of what you do not know. Class of 2016, as you go forth into the world, know that you have had a good foundation laid for you here at Montgomery and if you take nothing else away from this speech, just remember: Without truths and adventures, you cannot have beliefs; without beliefs and truths, you cannot go on adventures; and without adventures and beliefs, you cannot discover truths. Congratulations, again, class of 2016!

Excerpts from 8th Grade Graduation Speaker Taylor Owen's Remarks

Graduation Speaker at Top Independent Middle School Near Philadelphia

Anything and everything can change in nine years, but there are a few things that won’t change in nine years and haven’t changed in the last nine. One of those things is the sense of community and family at Montgomery. The same thing that makes it seem like a home here, and not just an institution. Nine years won’t change the bonds that form between the students and faculty. And nine years won’t change the education and experiences that Montgomery affords all of its students. Time can’t change what has already happened. It can’t change that we raised chicks together, that we went to the renaissance fair together, that we graduated from fifth grade together, that we spent a week camping together, that we waited in the lines at Disney World together in extreme temperatures, and that we visited another country together.

As a class we’ve had our days where we are all best buds or when we all hate each other and won’t talk. But, in nine years from now when Montgomery is floating in the sky like all other buildings, and this gym is just used as third stop on the walking tour of my life, the Taylor Owens Historical Walking Tour, to show where the best graduation speech in the history of mankind was given, you're not going to look back on who you talked to and who you did not, or how you did on the paper you had been dreading, or even how your day went. In the scheme of things it will all be insignificant. You're going to remember your days here not by how you spent them, but by the memories you made while spending them. We’ve had some pretty great memories here, I can not lie. But, if your best memories include completing practice sheets, and running sprints in practice, you might need to get out more. Let our Montgomery memories serve as a stepping stone for your future memories because quite honestly middle school years aren’t usually longer than two pages in autobiographies. Let what we learned act as the foundation for the better memories and a brighter tomorrow.

Today I want to thank faculty and administration for creating and maintaining and environment where students are inspired to explore, and prepared to succeed. I would also like to thank our parents for choosing such a supportive and enriching environment for their children to grow in.

I know you are all here to applaud our accomplishments and as I conclude my speech, I would like to invite the class of 2016 to stand up with me and applaud all of you for your efforts and support to get us here today.

Excerpts from Faith McElwaine's Remarks at Lower School Moving Up Ceremonies

Elementary School Student Speaker at Montgomery Private Elementary School

My nine years here at Montgomery School have been some of the best of my life, full of unforgettable memories and people. I’m so grateful for the community at Montgomery that has been there for me during this time because without their support and help, I probably wouldn’t be standing here talking to you today. I will miss how Montgomery doesn’t just teach you subjects, but teaches you real life lessons that you will take with you forever. Another thing I love and will miss most about Montgomery is the freedom they give you to be who you are, to create ideas, and to be trusted with the responsibility of independence. This school has shaped me into the person I am, which is something I will always be grateful for.

Montgomery School has given me so much opportunity and opened up many doors for me. Not every person is as blessed as we are today to have received this experience. You may not realize it now, but one day when you’re looking back and reflecting on your time here, it will hit you. When it does, all you're going to think is; is it really over? Where did all the time go? Am I really leaving? My time at Montgomery has been leading up to these final days, but yet I still can’t believe that I am here. In the past, it has always just seemed so far away and out of reach, like it would never really happen. Even in my eighth grade year, I still didn’t comprehend this moment. Now I just feel like time went by in a blur, and part of me wishes I could just go back to being the innocent little kindergartener that walked through the door on the first day of school all that time ago.

To my fellow classmates have made this crazy journey a time I will always remember. They have stuck by me when I needed someone, they have stood up for me, and have taught me many life lessons, They have made me feel loved, have treated me with pure kindness, have made me laugh so hard that I cried, and made me so happy throughout all these years. The memories that I share with them will be the ones that I tell my children, and the ones that I will think about when I’m having a bad day and need to escape. The fact that making these memories with all of them is over is too hard to think about right now, but over time I will accept it. Just know that I will never forget our times together, and I hope they won’t either. I struggle to think what I will do without each and every one of them in high school. All eighteen of them bring special and unique qualities to the table, and sometimes when they blend there can be chaos, but mostly there can be fun times had by all. I know that some of us will be lifelong friends, and I know that some of us will not. I know that some of us will keep in touch, and some of us will not. However, I do know that we will always have this school to bind us together, and that is something we can hold onto.