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Valedictorian Holly Keegan '22—Living in the Middle
Excerpts from Valedictory Address by Holly Keegan ’22
Holly Keegan Graduation Valedictorian

Holly Keegan '22


I feel as though I am in the middle of one of the biggest moments of my life.

For me, leaving the place that I have called home for the last fourteen years of my life is as big as it gets. How, then, can I possibly offer words of wisdom or advice as I stand on the edge of the most daunting cliff I have ever encountered, moments away from falling off? I have decided to start with what I know for certain: that here at Stone Ridge, we live smack in the middle of everything.

We are a class of creative writers, formidable athletes, thoughtful friends, and relentless advocates. Our Sacred Heart education has provided us with the opportunity to explore every interest, discipline, and passion that we can imagine, and we are a group of young women who have delved right into the middle of that opportunity.

In the midst of the (mostly) organized chaos that is life at Stone Ridge, it is easy to forget things that you learn. What I have not forgotten, is that Grainne Nunan dressed up as “Tax Day” for “Favorite Holiday” during spirit week of our sophomore year. I have not forgotten the sound of the entire Upper School’s cheers as the Athletics Department retired Katherine Khramtsov’s number. I have not forgotten the rumbling of the floors as the thirteen classes of seniors I have watched graduate before us charged through the halls on their last day of classes, or the roar of applause after JR Tsao finished a Bonfire performance. The humor, pride, and sense of belonging that these moments inspired in me have become the emotions that I now strive to create in others.

One memory that I can’t shake stems from Lower School. I, an impatient second grader with Bucks on my feet and two pigtails in my hair, sat with my classmates at our last Primes ceremony of the year, staring adoringly up at the members of the Senior Class of 2012 who had been at Stone Ridge since Lower School and were visiting to attend their final Primes. One of those seniors was asked to share a few remarks with the lower school students, and while I have long forgotten her name, I have not forgotten her words. She asked us to look to the person sitting to our left, and then to the person sitting to our right, because these were the people we would grow up with. Class of 2022, I ask you again, to look to the person to your left, and then to the person to your right. Here we are, sitting in the middle of each other, all grown up, in what feels like one of the biggest moments of our lives.

Whether you have been here for fourteen years or six or two, I can say with confidence that there is no better group of people to grow up with. I am eternally grateful to all of you for being the friends, teammates, and sisters of my life.

Somewhere in the middle of the Stone Ridge chaos that we all know and love, I read that our personalities are a combination of the five people that we spend the most time around. While the scientific evidence on this is spotty, I am and have always been a firm believer in the impact that we all have on each other. This school has not only gifted us with an education full of opportunities, but with the chance to have our lives and personalities shaped by the people here. I often find myself picking up slang from the lunch table or repeating jokes overheard in the slounge, copying classmates’ outfits and habits, and celebrating their wins and grieving their losses as if they were my own. We wear each other, in our laughter, in our sorrows, in our interests, and in our mannerisms. Stone Ridge has gifted each of us with an inkling of Kennedy’s maturity, a drop of Olivia’s kindness, a shadow of Becky’s dedication, a sliver of Grayson’s sense of perspective, and an array of other beautiful qualities that have bled from one of us onto the others. We are each a unique combination of the people we have met here.

To the teachers and staff who have stayed after hours to help us write a paper, who have shared with us not only their knowledge but also their life stories, and who have worked tirelessly to make sure that we always had a beautiful campus to call home, I speak for the entire graduating class when I say that we are eternally grateful. You have opened doors and inspired curiosities in us that will direct the courses of our lives. To Mrs. Karrels, Mr. McCluskey, and Ms. Fontanone, thank you for holding and guiding us with such love through the chaos of our Stone Ridge careers. As much as you consider us yours, we consider you ours. To our parents and families, thank you for the life-changing gift of a Sacred Heart education. You have been our most consistent and selfless champions, and we would not be here without you. For years, I have listened to my mother and grandmother’s stories of their time at Sacred Heart schools, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to tell my own.

I have no doubt that the Class of 2022 will go on to lead big, busy, beautiful lives. If there is one piece of advice that I can give to sum up everything that I have learned in fourteen years, it is this: continue to live in the middle of things. Carry on Jules and Ava’s spirit by attending as many of your school’s sports games, theater productions, art shows, and concerts as humanly possible. Carry forward the values instilled in us here by the Social Action Program and seek out ways to be involved in the communities lucky enough to have you next. Surround yourself with people you admire and allow their love to be reflected in your actions. Living this way, in the honest here and now of the chaos of our lives, is what I believe will continue to shape us into women of purpose and confidence.

As I stand before you now, I do not stare into the cavern that lays ahead, but rather turn around and examine the path that brought all of us here in the first place. Where I expected to find a straight, unforked, and well-paved path, I instead gaze in wonder at oceans, mountains, and cliffs much higher than the one before which I now stand, and I am forced to face the truth: that graduation is not the biggest moment of my life. In comparison to the years that we have spent growing up together, learning how to do everything from flips on the monkey bars to parking in the student lot to leading morning assembly, graduation comes nowhere close.