On April 27, Head of School Mr. Tyler Casertano spoke to the Sixth Form after an assembly. He mentioned “senioritis,” lack of attendance, and failure to meet expected standards. He urged us to end our final year on a strong note, with punctuality and respect, emphasizing that our legacy as an entire class gave younger students an image to look up to.
Amongst the advice given, he posed a question: “How do you all [the Class of 2023] want to be remembered?”
Now, while I reflect on my years at Haverford, my mind drifts to how little time I and the Class of 2023 have. The date as I am writing this article is May 6, 2023—six days until May 12, 2023, the last Friday before graduation projects begin and the end of our time taking high-school courses.
And so, I return to Mr. Casertano’s talk.
How do I want to be remembered?
Scattered around Haverford are remnants of transformative community members. Buildings such as Wilson Hall, Severinghaus Library, and Crosman Hall (the former middle school building) honor the legacies of previous Head of Schools. More recently, students like former student body president Mitav Nayak ’22 and Jeffrey Yang ’22, both active student leaders during their Haverford careers, have shaped the way current upper schoolers act through their previous initiatives, involvement in student activities and clubs, and immense presence at school.
But I’m not like them.
And most people aren’t. Only a handful of people have such significant impacts on their community that they are commemorated for years to come. It’s only inevitable that the vast majority are forgotten, right?
I may not have produced the most change during my time here. Rather than attempt to improve the school on a grand scale, I spent my time finding my place, building smaller relationships, and learning about those around me. Along the way, I’ve had potent conversations and shared intimate stories, all of which have led me to gain a better understanding of myself and the larger community. And while I wish I pushed myself to enter the spotlight more often, I do not regret the career I’ve built in upper school. Through the conversations I’ve had and the relationships I’ve established, I believe I have been able to help someone else smile.
I think that’s okay.
Most legacies will not be defined by the tangibles. It won’t be through the number of rules someone changed or the roles they had. Like all things, our memory will gradually fade into the background, becoming just another statistic of ‘the Class of 2023’.
But if one person was affected by our presence, maybe an underclassman or teacher, then maybe we can be more.
Perhaps those small moments or conversations we had with someone else in the community inspired them to pursue a passion, idea, or goal of theirs.
Or maybe not.
Maybe that person simply enjoyed spending time with us, which I believe is outstanding.
If my legacy is solely marked by the everyday interactions I had with others, then I’m glad.
If that’s the case, then I know my commitment to those around me had a lasting impact. And if that impact, no matter how brief, was able to improve someone else’s day, then it certainly wasn’t a waste of time. I would dare to call it important too.
Optimistically, I believe that those brief moments can forge a culture where people can freely share and smile with each other, ultimately cascading into a friendlier, healthier, and better Haverford—a naturally imperfect place that persistently strives for improvement through its collective, uplifting student population, a place we can proudly say we were a part of regardless of who remembers us years from now.