Imparting Wisdom: Advice to the Class of 2025 from the Class of 2021

Christopher Relyea ’21 offers advice to the Class of 2025

Originally presented by Chris ’21 at the National Junior Honor Society Induction on May 4, 2021

My name is Christopher Relyea and I’m a senior here at Hendricken. I was a member of our school’s second-ever SELECT Honors institute class, though it’s hard to believe it, almost five years ago. Reaching the end of my time here, I’m grateful to have the chance to share some words about what the Hendricken experience has in store for you, and to tell you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

First of all, congratulations to you, the newest Hendricken members of the National Junior Honors Society. You’ve all put the work in and now it’s paid off in an academic year that’s been incredibly difficult for reasons we’ve become all too familiar with. Though in some ways it may feel like it’s already started, you’re about to embark on your real high school experience. Let me be the first to tell you that it’s not easy, but I promise you that the friends you will make, the successes you will find, the faith that will be fostered here, and the lessons you will learn both in and out of the classroom will be worth it and will stay with you for the rest of your life.

In writing this speech I found myself taking a moment to think about my time in the eighth-grade program here at Hendricken. Looking back on someone four and a half years younger and probably a foot shorter, I can’t help but realize how much I’ve changed, how much Hendricken has allowed me to develop in so many ways. I can still remember my very first day of class that year. August of 2016. I walked into that room in the 500 wing for the first Algebra II lesson I’d ever take. I’d always loved math and was thrilled to have tested into the Edmund Rice Scholars program, an opportunity I can’t begin to thank Hendricken enough for. I walked into that room with so much confidence, so much enthusiasm, and then saw that destroyed pretty much immediately. For the first time I could remember, I was lost and confused in a math class. I was so shocked to see something which had come easily to me in the past present such a challenge.

It was a reality check, and something I’m now grateful for. Over the course of that year, I began to learn what it really meant to study, what it really meant to work hard. Your academic work at Hendricken will challenge you, but you will be better for it. I’ve come to love math again, especially with the help of Hendricken’s incredibly inspiring and motivating faculty—namely Mr. Morey, who, if you haven’t met him yet, will make you enjoy math if it’s the last thing he does. This is what you’re here to do. To learn from your experiences, from your time spent at Hendricken, and not only from the notes you’ll take or the homework you’ll complete. Experiences like those I’ve found are endless here at Hendricken, and if you’re open to them, to the men they will allow you to become, you will graduate both a capable student and outstanding, faithful individual.

How do you seek out these opportunities to learn more, to become that individual? If you haven’t heard it a million times already, get involved. You here have seen the opportunities one has at Hendricken to try something new, to be part of a team, to form long-lasting friendships with those who have similar interests. As you start as freshmen next year, even more of these chances will open up to you, and taking advantage of them is one of the greatest things you can do at this school.

To speak of my own experience once again, being a part of the arts program here at Hendricken both before and after school has been incredibly rewarding, and something that I owe so much to. I’ve loved music for a long time and had made it a significant part of my life before my time at Hendricken, but I can’t think of any other place that could have supported my last five years artistically to the degree Hendricken has. From, again, inspirational faculty, to ensembles I’ve had the pleasure to have played in, Hendricken has become almost like a second home. I’ve tried new instruments, new styles of music, made incredible friendships with those who love this art as much as I do, and that’s been an incredible gift. Without the support and

resources of this program and this school, I wouldn’t be where I am today, with plans to pursue music in college and in a professional life beyond those next four years. If you get involved here, you can find that too. You can find that interest you might not know you have, that hidden talent that might change your plans for the future completely. I may be standing here speaking to the next star athlete, or someone with a knack for computers and a future in innovation, or someone who will change the world in ways that are impossible to see at this moment. All I know is that Hendricken has everything you need to be successful, to develop into the person you are destined to become. You’re going to change and grow in many ways you may not notice until the end, but these changes are what will prepare you with the tools you need to do anything you put your mind to after your time at Hendricken has finished.

I know I may have just given you a lot to think about. I know you still have a bit of time left before you really start thinking about your future. So, here’s my final message to you: enjoy your time here. As your years at Hendricken fly by—and they do, even though it may not seem like it at times—remember to, as Mr. Wynne might say, slow down. You’re going to meet some incredible people in the next four years of your life, and have some incredible times that, by the end, you won’t want to part with. I stand here facing the start of a new, exciting chapter in my life, and I can’t believe that my time to leave this community is approaching so quickly. I didn’t believe the teachers who, at orientation freshman year, told us this all would be over in the blink of an eye, but take it from me, they were absolutely right. So, make the most of this time in your life. Take every opportunity to learn more about yourself, about the world around you, and to let the Hendricken experience shape you into the man of faith and intellect you’re proud to be. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.