Senior Speakers

Senior Speakers

The 2023-2024 senior speaker series continued at chapel on February 26. It featured eight members of the Class of 2024: 

Alexander Hochberg, a three-year senior from New York, New York reflected on reading Colin Powell's 13 Rules of Leadership, recommended to him by his late grandfather. “Sitting at my desk contemplating topics for my speech today, my eyes glared to a poster I have in my room that I often get asked about.” Secretary Powell’s thirteen rules are posted on the wall of his dorm room in Fuller Hall and Alexander reflects on them often. He shared three rules that resonate with him most: "It ain't as bad as you think! It will look better in the morning", "Get mad then get over it", and "Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision." 

Christian Recinos, a four-year senior from New Windsor, New York lost half his finger when he was five years old. He is often asked "what happened?" and has fabricated two versions of the story—a shark attack and an encounter with a grizzly bear. "Though the story of what actually happened to my finger may remain a mystery, there's something empowering about telling your story the way you want to tell it. Finding humor in this situation has allowed me to move past any shame or embarrassment. I relay these stories to highlight the importance of sharing your own experiences—even if it may be in a humorous way."

Charlie Riegel, a four-year senior from Suffield, Connecticut recently played in the New England Squash Tournament as a member of the Varsity team. The team was the seventh seed and came from behind to clinch the Class D Championship. Although Charlie lost the match in the finals, his teammates won theirs "and their wins felt incredible. I was happy for Suffield but more importantly I was really, really happy for them—for what they were able to accomplish for themselves and for the team." Charlie shared his take-aways from the entire experience: "Just show up. You will be surprised at what happens when you just give yourself an opportunity you might not want or think you need. If you are prepared, you can go far." He concluded by sharing "Celebrating someone else's success is just as important as your own victories. People can get threatened by other people's success, but when you are on the same team, it feels amazing to see them win."

Madi Seivright, a three-year senior from Nassau, Bahamas lost her father a year ago this coming May. Madi shared “Grief manifests itself in different ways for different people. You would expect that when you lose a parent the phases of grief would be apparent. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and the process is not something that can be rushed or neatly categorized.” Madi will graduate from Suffield this coming May marking the transition into adulthood and she is looking at it as a new chapter in her life where she knows she will be supported by the amazing people in her life and most importantly her dad. “I am choosing not to live in fear of when my grief may surface. Even though my grief hasn’t manifested in a way that is typical, I know I cannot use his death as a reason to stop living.”

Darian Thomson, a four-year senior from Canton, Massachusetts is eternally grateful for the opportunity to attend Suffield. In 2013 his father became a victim of gun violence and suffered a gunshot wound to his head. Darian had to embrace that his reality was now different. “Everyone goes through trials and tribulations, but life is what you make it.” Darian will be the first male in his family to graduate high school and have the opportunity to attend college. “I’ve learned to treat people with kindness and respect; people go through things deeper than what you may see. Appreciate the journey and cherish every moment—even the ones that are not so great. It took a village to get me here today.”

A.J. Ellis, a two-year senior from Lake Bluff, Illinois has "learned to enjoy the journey and not only focus on the destination." After arriving at Suffield as a new junior, it took some time for A.J. to adjust to a new school. Once he became more comfortable he began to create meaningful bonds with various members of the community. "Creating relationships with others is such an important part of living a fulfilling life. From your parents and teachers to your classmates and friends, having that support is extremely important."

Hadley Harris, a four-year senior from Ferrisburgh, Vermont remembers reading The Giving Tree with her family throughout her childhood. As Hadley turns the page to the next chapter of her life she reflected on her own version of the giving tree. “Suffield is the trunk of my giving tree—she has let me swing from her branches and play in her shade. Suffield gave me wonderful friends, an amazing education, strong role models, and the gift of experiencing what it is like to uproot yourself and face adversity in a new environment.” She added “The branches of my tree are my friends, teachers, advisors, and coaches who have all given me support and encouragement to keep me strong and focused. These branches protect me from the whirling winds of change, the storms that bring tears, and always let in the sunshine to make me smile.”

Svetlana Shorina, a three-year senior from Moscow, Russia has been dreaming of coming to boarding school in America since she visited New York City when she was six years old. She is appreciative of her parents supporting the idea as she grew older and her desire to come to the states grew stronger. "Coming to Suffield wasn't just about academics—it was about immersing myself in a new culture, leaving lifelong friendships to make new ones, and discovering a strength and independence I never knew I possessed. Suffield has been my second home away from my parents, and I will always remember the lessons I've learned here."

The senior speaker series is a valuable Suffield Academy tradition and capstone part of the Leadership Program. It is a weekly highlight in our community.

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