By Aidan Stretch '20
To STA 2019-2020 students, faculty, and staff--
After registration day, things start to move pretty quickly—soccer has their first game; the seniors guide C-Formers down the aisle of the Cathedral; and freshmen realize (regretfully) what a high school night of homework looks like. But soon, things slow down again—we move to our second table rotation; we get excited for homecoming; and getting out of our cars on pilgrim road or at senior circle begins to feel routine. Given that I cannot get much more specific than remembering the different “speeds” of the start of school, I suspect that I haven’t quite departed from summer mode, and I am sure that many of you haven’t either. So take your time, be nervous, be excited, and, in no time, we will all find our rhythms.
Freshmen, I am certain that people have told you that it is hard. What they may not have told you is that it is also fun. I was new to St. Albans freshman year, and the first couple weeks of school were difficult. I didn’t know anyone, and my classes seemed impossible, and I doubted whether I had made the right choice coming to this place. Then, I heard a couple funny lunch announcements, went to my first home football game, laughed with my classmates about an Odyssey quiz that was impossible to pass. And soon enough, St. Albans was fun, and it was home, and, with time, all of you will feel the same way.
Sophomores, must be nice. You have some time on your hands, truthfully not as much as advertised, but still some. Use that time. Begin to figure out what interests you. Join a club, write for a publication on the Close [hint hint], go to your friends’ sports games, explore what St. Albans has to offer beyond the classroom. And do not get complacent. Though it is true that, at times, sophomore year is less demanding, it is still St. Albans, and, as you know, St. Albans is not easy. Take pride in the fact that you have finished a year here because you earned it, and you worked to get here. And, most importantly, enjoy yourselves—sophomore year really is fun—but know that the freshman leeway that was granted to you last year may no longer exist, so act accordingly.
Juniors, you have survived two years here on nothing but chicken, rice, and Big Texas’s—you can survive another one. In truth, it is not that bad. Sure, work picks up a little and you begin to stress a bit about college and the history paper is no joke, but you have trained for this and you are ready. When people gripe about junior year, they often forget to describe all the good things about it, so conscious of this, let me tell you the pros of junior year. I found that, over the course of Form V, my grade grew much closer—three years in the same place, going through the same struggles will do that to a group of people. The new friends you make junior year, people you may not even have known after freshman year, begin to make St. Albans feel more like a large family, a large brotherhood. Even as your studies intensify, the support network you will have undoubtedly created by the middle of your junior year somehow makes everything seem more manageable. So be nice to your friends, be grateful for your friends, and you will all make it out unscathed because you are doing it together.
Seniors, one more left. To be honest, I still feel like a junior. I am not sure if I am ready to stand in the first row at games or ask the table questions or apply to colleges. I am clearly a little nervous about the journey we are all about to begin. But I am also excited because I get to do it with you guys—75 guys whom I have the utmost respect for and whom I know will have my back this entire year just as I will have yours. I know that it will not be smooth sailing the whole way. We will have our ups and downs and obstacles that we will have to overcome, but I also know that the Class of 2020 is going to be special.
A final thought to leave you with: before you know it, you will be in the seniors’ shoes with only one more year to enjoy this place, so cherish this year, cherish your friends, and look for moments when you can sit back and appreciate all that St. Albans has to offer.