Good afternoon. I’m Luke Feigal and I’ve been in a Waldorf classroom since I was in utero. So I’m happy to say that I’m a true “lifer”. I am honored to stand before you today on behalf of the class of 2016.
I want to start by expressing our true gratitude to all of our amazing teachers that have taught this class over the last 14 years and have shaped this class into a group of incredible young adults. I would also like to thank my mom and dad along with all of the senior class parents for all of the love and support that they have offered to us over the years. We would truly not be the men and women that you see here today without your love and guidance.
I recently started playing with a new baseball team this summer. A whole roster of new faces left me, again, trying to describe what school I go to and what exactly it is. Over and over, I told my new teammates that I go to a very small school. Not understanding how small Shining Mountain really is, the question is often asked how many kids are in your graduating class? When I respond 18, jaws drop, and almost every single time, the first thing out of my teammate’s mouth is, “I could not handle that, I would get so sick of everybody else.” The funny thing is, I haven’t even told them that that goes all the way back to kindergarten and not just 9th grade. While I admit that there have been some moments to the contrary, I am happy to say that I am not sick of my classmates. Spending so much time with such a small group of amazing people has deepened my love and appreciation for each one of my peers. The bond that has been created over the last 14 years between members of this small and tight-knit class goes beyond what can be spoken in words. That being said, in the next few minutes, I will try my best to give everyone a small taste of our class and what we all mean to each other.
“All for one and one for all” is a phrase that we often heard from Mrs. Altgelt in first through fifth grade. Mr. Janzen might have said it a few times, too, if I remember right. At the time, I wasn’t much of a fan of that phrase because it usually meant that somebody did something wrong and we all weren’t going out to recess because of it. Even through the hard times of slightly less recess in a day full of outdoor play, I can now see this phrase as a representation of our class in a much more positive light. Our class is behind each other 110%, and any one person in this class will always be there for any other person.
Recently, on our Senior trip to Devil’s Thumb Ranch, our class had a sharing circle. Everybody went around and shared a memory or something that they appreciate about one another. It was a truly special time where many great memories, and kind and meaningful words were shared. What I got out of it was again, how much we care for each other. How amazing is it that a group of people with such a diversity in interests and personalities can come together and really appreciate each other for who everyone else really is? Going into the circle, I was a little nervous because I had no idea what I was going to say about everyone. Once the sharing actually started, I found it to be one of the easiest things I have ever done, and I’m sure that my classmates found it to be just as easy. Over the years, we’ve really had an opportunity to know and appreciate each other at a much deeper level than we even knew, but it didn’t take much digging to find where our appreciation for each other was found.
Even through some difficult times, such as pouring rain on almost every single camping trip we went on, our class has stuck together and gotten through. Often becoming even closer on the other side. One tough camping trip in particular was our fifth grade trip to the sand dunes. We had more rainfall in one night than the area’s annual average. Everything was soaked and we were miserable. We got through it together and today, I actually remember that trip as a positive one with a lot of fun times with my close friends.
The class of 2016 is a family. Everyone in this room is part of the Shining Mountain family. As we prepare to step away from this family, we do so with excitement and a bit of trepidation.
A little over a month ago when I committed to attend St. Olaf, the first thing my new coach said to me was “welcome to the family”. When he said that, I realized that, while it is terrifying to leave this family that we have known for so long, we all have new families out there waiting to welcome us in the next chapter of our journey. It would be downright selfish for this group of people not to share themselves with the world and become a member of those families. It is simply time for us to go out and show the world what we know, which we learned through our Waldorf experience, about what it means to be a part of a family. And when it comes down to it, I know that this is not the end of our Shining Mountain family. A bond that goes beyond words is much too strong to be broken by something as silly as a little distance. We are all walking out of here with more than just a diploma. We are leaving here with a fantastic foundation and support system on which to build the rest of our lives!
Photo of the Feigal family at Luke’s graduation ~ Ray, Carma, Mark & Luke Feigal