By: George Pearson, Salutatorian, MDS Class of 2020
Congratulations, Class of 2020. Our day has finally come, even if it is a little different than we may have imagined. I remember seeing last year’s graduates and thinking, “I’ve still got plenty of time, and then that time flew by, and here we are. Last year, I was a marshal at the graduation ceremony, so I saw each graduate from up close as they prepared themselves to get their diploma. I remember thinking, “Why are they so nervous?” But now, I get it. I’m nervous about a lot of things. I’m nervous about college and if I’m going to make friends easily and if my major choice is going to work out. I’m nervous about adult life and living on my own one day. So, yes, I’m nervous, but that’s why I am so grateful to be a member of this particular class, because going through middle school and high school with you guys has been excellent preparation for the future. So, for those of you who are feeling a little nervous like me, let me put you at ease by reminding you why it’s so special to be a member of the class of 2020.I came to MDS in sixth grade way back in 2013. Back then I was about a foot shorter than I am now, my voice sounded like a chipmunk, and I was rocking a bowl cut, so obviously, I didn’t have everything figured out just yet. I was starting a new school, and right away I was handed an iPad with access to plenty of games and I guess some learning apps or something. I was told that fried chicken would be served every Wednesday for lunch. Naturally, I thought, if it’s just gonna be games and fried chicken from here on out, this is the peak of human existence. It can’t get any better than this. And then I met my classmates. My classmates were full of personality. They were funny, smart, energetic, and likable. Everybody fit together so well that the transition into this new school seemed natural. That was the year we started sprinting to lunch and four square at recess was the game to play and we flew our kites in the park. That was the year I learned my class knew how to have fun.
Those middle school years went by in a flash and, suddenly, high school was upon us, and as freshmen, were the little kids all over again. We were joined by many new classmates, and we started to look more like the extraordinary class we are today. These students brought even more personality and energy and once again, everything felt right, like all of us were meant to be in this class. We started our journey through high school together, and even in the face of new classes with new teachers in new buildings, freshman year was a pretty smooth ride. Thanks to our class dynamic, thanks to the energy and positivity that you guys brought, starting high school was a lot easier. That year, I learned that my classmates and I could handle just about anything together.
When junior year came, the pressures of high school had been weighing down on us for a while. The carefree days of middle school were in the past and we could see the dark cloud of college applications approaching. My classes were harder than ever, including my first AP classes, and yet that year was full of great memories. For example, I became internet famous when “Por Favor” dropped. For those of you who don’t know, “Por Favor” was a music video created by my Spanish 4 class that went viral. I was featured in that video. I was the guy wearing the tiny sombrero and yelling at you in Spanish. When the video played on the morning announcements, I instantly became famous at school and after that I became a sensation among private school parents from all around the area. Yes, middle schoolers made fun of me, but memories like that came to define junior year for me. My brief experience with stardom occurred during late third quarter and early fourth quarter when every class seemed like a grind and I had to push through the last units and chapters and prepare for exams. And I know I wasn’t alone. You all experienced that, but even during that time, we were still making great memories which are a testament to the determination and dedication of this class. That year taught me that this class is pretty tough. We are resilient.
When our senior year started, we were ready to take it easy. It was a time for senior privileges and free periods. It was our turn to take the reins, to be front and center in our academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. The entire school looked up to us and we had to set the example. And suddenly, everything changed. We lost a lot of special senior moments. Spring activities were cut short and school moved to our homes. We sat in front of screens and our teachers had to use technology for everything. Our entire learning environment was transformed, but the rest of the school still looked to us to set that same example. And, we did. We continued to bring our positivity and our drive in the face of unprecedented challenges. This year gave me more than enough evidence to see that our class is a class of leaders.So now, when I think about my future and the uncertainty that comes with it, I don’t need to look any farther than what we’ve already accomplished for reassurance. I know I can be successful in college because we already put in the work here, and we received the best college preparatory education around. I know I will be able to make friends in college and in my adult life because I did that here. I formed some of the strongest bonds and closest friendships I’ve ever had here at MDS. And I know that on good days and bad, rain or shine, I can live my life with positivity and try to have a little fun while I’m at it, because, hey, I’ve learned from the very best. I’m nervous, but I’m not worried. We got this, we can handle whatever comes next.
With that being said, I would like to thank all of the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and other family members and friends for being here today. I would like to thank all of the teachers and the administration who worked tirelessly to see us succeed and to see us get here. Finally, I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the class of 2020. I enjoyed taking every step of this journey with you guys, and I’m grateful for all the memories. I am honored to be your salutatorian. I’m proud to be your classmate, and I wish you all the very best. Thank you.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.