A Graduation Address by Margot Langman ‘22

Good afternoon and welcome to the families, friends, faculty, and staff who have contributed so much to this special day. My name is Margot Langman. On behalf of the class of 2022, I would like to thank you for all the support and guidance you have offered us through the years and for being with us today to share this milestone in our lives. I feel tremendous pride and gratitude to have the opportunity to speak to all of you today.

High school is the time when the metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood is most apparent. It is the time when we are most challenged to discover ourselves as individuals apart from our families while in the company of our peers. It’s when we identify our strengths, clarify our values, and, if we’re lucky, determine our purpose.

My own high school experience has been one of discovery and transformation. When I was 14, I was hit by a car. During the year following, most of my energy was focused on recovering physically, while attempting to keep up with the social and academic pressures of school. I can tell you that I experienced it as a huge challenge.

By the time I started high school, at 15, I was overcome with anxiety. I questioned everything about myself and my abilities and felt I was not good enough at anything. Though I had made considerable progress in rehabilitating my external, my internal self remained somewhat flawed. I still struggled to find my identity and voice in a community, and I lacked self-confidence.

When I began attending Steiner at 16, my life began to change for the better. Gradually, I learned to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. As I pushed myself to try new things, share my ideas, and contribute, I began to define and connect with my true self.

In the curriculum, we have paid special attention to the act of metamorphosis, the relationship between the self and the world, and to seeing the microcosm in the macrocosm and vice versa. We have started each morning by reciting the Steiner morning verse together, looking into the world and ourselves, asking for learning and growing within our innermost being and with each main lesson block, we have carefully examined our individual connections with the world around us as we grow and learn.

I will always remember how the tenth-grade History Through Poetry main lesson influenced my world view. We were learning about the five capacities of the poet: wonder, inspiration, imagination, intuition, and love of language. I don’t consider myself a poet, but as we explored these capacities, I recognized their value for anyone moving through the world and made the choice to intentionally carry them with me wherever I went.

The more I learned, the more I opened up and connected with others, rather than just learning for the sake of getting good grades or doing well on tests. The creative aspect of the main lessons pushed me to experience core subjects in new ways, adding theoretical and practical aspects of working with my hands and visual components to the lessons.

My favorite main lesson, by far, was in eleventh grade. The Parzival main lesson both focused on the German epic and pushed us to examine our own life experiences, mistakes, and moments of growth as young people. Parzival’s greatest mistake is being a “goose”—someone whose head is too far from his heart. He fails when he does not think to ask his uncle the most important question: “What ails you?” In studying Parzival, we learn the importance of simply asking others what ails them and what you can do to help. This truth helps us to understand how to leave our mark on the world in a meaningful way: by looking outward and focusing on what we can do for others.

There is a quote by Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore that reads, “The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.” A butterfly’s life is only two weeks, so not a moment can be wasted. Just like butterflies, we seniors have also gone through a metamorphosis, and we will also each soar onto our paths after today. As Tagore says, we should count time in moments and feel we have enough. It is okay to not know where to go next because it is far more meaningful to stay where we are, to breathe deeply into moments, and feel they are enough. One important moment can change a whole life’s consciousness if we can tune into it and allow other concerns to disappear. When I look back, I am immediately taken to moments of being fully present with my classmates where we worked together as a cohesive unit, stepping out of our comfort zones, and functioning as an organism. Being able to perform a hallelujah together in eurythmy, sing together in choir, act in plays, and participate in music ensembles with my peers has bonded us in experiences where we each had to be vulnerable and give a piece of ourselves to affect the outcome of the group. The opportunity to take part in these activities has given me memories that are not only close to my heart, but deeply meaningful because I was able to be a part of and create something bigger than myself. As we feel pressure to achieve the most, excel the most, and race to be the best, it is crucial to remember that what is profoundly important, aside from our own accomplishments, is to focus on giving and what we can accomplish with our communities.

Looking at my classmates, I see 18 uniquely talented individuals that I am confident will make their mark on the world. You are artists, writers, and activists who have already created positive change in our school through discussion and action. In extracurricular clubs like Venus, SIDER, and GLOW, you have taken leadership roles, creating forums and safe spaces for the entire community to express itself. To thrive as a group in our small space, we have learned how to truly listen and forgive to overcome challenging moments experienced with each other and our teachers. As we go off into the world, I hope that we use these skills, our voices, and our inner light to brighten the dark places where we encounter injustice, inequality, violence, and hatred. These things are not strong if we choose to not give them power. Before we part ways, I have one request for my classmates: choose light. By this, I mean love one another and be positive; you never know what a difference a single, kind word can make in someone’s life. The light we emit has the power to ripple like an echo; so please, do not be afraid to give and receive it.

Thank you.