The senior speaker series continued on January 7 and featured eight members of the Class of 2019: Kenny Lin, Nkosi Cooper, Cody Ikemoto, Joe Rousseau, Abby James, Kate Tatarkina, Kari Vinje, and Ashley Wang.
The series launched with the Class of 2017 as an addition to the chapel program where all seniors delivered a speech, presentation, or performance to the Suffield Academy community. Headmaster Charlie Cahn said he hoped the program would serve as a formative experience for the seniors, an opportunity to strengthen community, and a way to continue providing engaging chapel programming. These talks are supplemented by traditional chapel events including the Alumni Leadership Day program, Student Council Elections, and Kent-Davis Speaking Competition during Commencement week.
An avid gamer from Taipei, Kenny Lin presented a brief overview of Taiwan and several benefits to playing video games: “Gaming trains you to perform multiple tasks at once, reduces stress, improves strategy skills, eye tracking, and social connections. Gamers often outperform others in terms of perception, memory, and decision making.”
From Baldwin, New York, Nkosi Cooper says he learned valuable lessons being the son of immigrants: “Early on I grasped that education could open doors. Both my parents used education as a way to begin a new life here in the United States. After immigrating from Jamaica and England, my parents attended college in New York. I have learned from their example that education can take you very far in life.”
Cody Ikemoto began his talk by thanking the faculty, his classmates, and community for a great high school journey. “Teachers here are intelligent, supportive, and put in every effort to prepare us for college,” he said. “I am grateful to call Suffield my second home and appreciate all the memories its given me.” He also presented a video featuring his home in Tokyo, Japan: “It is important to me to show you where I come from and introduce you to the other side of the world.”
Like six other students from Kingston, Jamaica, Joe Rousseau had a tough time adapting to New England’s cold winters and traditional cuisine lacking pepper and spice. He is however grateful for his Suffield experience: “I am glad that we Jamaicans have made an impression on life at Suffield, but also know that Suffield has opened our eyes as well to remind us that people are just people no matter their nationality. Wherever you go we all have our own stories to tell, and what I love the most about Jamaica is the unique culture of our people.”
A four-year senior from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Abby James shared her viewpoint as an adopted child: “Experience, environment, and our mind shape who we are or will be. My parents have showed me how to be a healthy person who loves and respects myself. As I was an infant born into uncertainty, now my directions are clear. I am hopeful, I am happy, and I have a forever family.”
Kate Tatarkina’s family moved from St. Petersburg (Russia) to Moscow in 2004 and most recently moved again to Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Familiar to major geographical changes in her family’s life, she shared with the community 10 interesting facts about the unique city and emirate. “When my mom told me we’d be moving to Dubai eight months ago I could hardly believe it,” she said. “I have always been fascinated with Dubai and how advanced and beautiful it is. I am excited to have an opportunity to call Dubai my home and look forward to further exploring it.”
With a population of only 14,000, Kari Vinje is from Voss, Norway. While most people typically associate Norway to a winter wonderland, Kari shared a video featuring Voss’ annual extreme sports summer festival. “Although I love the winter time, nothing is better than the Norwegian summer and all that comes with it. I want to take this opportunity to show all of you how much more than the cold, white winters Norway has to offer.”
Ashley Wang is a three-year senior from nearby Glastonbury, Connecticut, who wanted to experience life as a boarding student. “This might be the best decision I made,” she said. “Suffield is where I made friends who make each day special. So, when thinking of what I could share today, I thought of my roommate. We had our best moments and ugly moments, but they are memories that I will treasure deeply.”
The senior speaker series will resume on January 14. You may view all chapel talks here.