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The Class of 2017 Speaker Series – Words from our Seniors

Suffield’s senior speaker series concluded for the 2016-2017 academic year on May 1 and featured eight members of the Class of 2017: Cuba Birnbaum, Kevin Haley, Brandon Qui, Lea Kvadsheim, Nina Begley, Sabrina Hang, Peter Kelley, and Amelia Hern.
The series was a new addition to the chapel program where all seniors delivered a speech, presentation, or performance to the Suffield Academy community. Headmaster Charlie Cahn 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 were supplemented by traditional chapel events throughout the year. The coming weeks will bring Alumni Leadership Awards Day (May 15) and and the Kent-Davis Speaking Competition on May 22.
A postgraduate from Newton, Massachusetts, Cuba Birnbaum explained the story behind his name, memories of summer sports camp with Suffield’s head varsity baseball coach Bryan Brissette, and the many reasons he is grateful to have experienced his year at Suffield. Kevin Haley spoke about overcoming elbow surgery and the valuable life lessons he learned from playing baseball. “Very rarely do things ever go as you planned, but if you remain optimistic, resilient, and work hard, no obstacle will ever be too great.” Encouraging students to make full use of an opportunity, Brandon Qui talked about trying squash for the first time and how the challenge to improve fulfilled him. A one-year senior from Norway, Lea Kvadsheim said her time at Suffield has given her a new perspective on her home. She showed a video highlighting Norway’s epic landscapes. Postgraduate Nina Begley noted, “I would say my two brothers and I have not followed in their footsteps exactly, but we have run in them,” as she outlined the parallels between her parents’ success in running and how it became a driving influence in her own life. Sabrina Hang took the time to acknowledge her friends and thank them for their support ad kindness. She then showed a video demonstrating the importance of both. Peter Kelley started his talk by saying, “Hello my name is Peter Kelley from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and I’ve been lying ever since I was a little kid.” He illustrated a study on dishonesty and how most people tell little lies every three seconds, especially when signing disclaimers. He concluded, “The only regrets I have from the last three years are the moments I was not honest.” Wrapping up the speaker series, Amelia Hern talked about the many ways she evolved over the last four years as a musician, student, athlete, and person. Commenting on enlightenment and self-discovery, she described how the community helped pave the way for her growth. “Suffield opened doors from me I’d have never thought to knock on,” she remarked. “My wish for all of you is that you too will find these doors, open them, and walk through to the other side because you never know what you might find. May you find yourself as you found your Suffield.”
Headmaster Cahn closed the afternoon by thanking these seniors and the entire Class of 2017 for helping build such a strong foundation for the speaker series and making it a valuable new tradition for the Suffield Academy community. 

View all chapel presentations here.

Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411