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Getting Along with Others

As students we should learn to live with one another right now, because we're going to have to do it the rest of our lives. By learning to live and accept that others are and will always be different, we take a step away from ignorance, and a step towards knowledge.

Address to New Students at Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts
by Erin Donahue

Good morning faculty and students. I hope you've all enjoyed your summer vacation as much as I have.

However, now that school has started again, it is time to think about the importance of this year.

First of all, let me congratulate those of your who will receive awards here today. Your commitment to education is and will play an important role in your future lives.

Secondly, let me tell you how I came to think of the importance of this year.
It started with a call from Mr. Blodgett, asking me to do this speech. While I was secretly honored, unfortunately, it meant I would have to think before September, specifically about "learning to get along with each other," the topic that Mr. Blodgett gave me for this speech.

Although I'm known to my friends as an infamous procrastinator, I actually started thinking about this speech before right now! No, actually I spent a lot of time thinking of why learning to live with one another is such an important topic to every single on of us, especially this year.

Critical Year
For the Freshmen, this is the first year of your high school career. Most likely, it will shape the rest of your years here at Lawrence.
For the sophomores, this is your first year being settled in.
For the juniors, this is a critical academic year for college, and will likely determine how your application process will go.

And the seniors, we actually have to go through the application process. But furthermore, this is our last year here at L.A.

One thing is in common for all of us: this year is critical in shaping who we will be in the future. After all, once you become old, it'll be hard to change your opinions.

That is why it is so important to learn to get along with one another right now. I'm not going to tall everyone to hold hands and send out love vibes, because it wouldn't make a difference, and it would be silly. But this year, it is important to try to expose yourself to as many different types of people as you can.

Why? First off, because we have an incredible opportunity. We can meet people from all over the world here at L.A. Not only that, but no matter who you are, there are people here who think differently from you.

So how does this apply to you? Because let's face it, each one of us is mostly concerned with ourselves. Well the reason why getting to learn to live with one another right now is important, is because you're going to have to do it the rest of your lives.

Unless you decide to be a hermit, all of us will face people who are different from us, whether it be ethnically, politically, or whether they just have different ideas than us. We will all have acquaintances, co-workers and bosses who are different from us; who were raised differently, who think differently. This will happen whether you decide to live in Groton, New York, or Peru.

Levels of Ignorance
I can't count the number of times I have been astonished at people's ignorance. How many times have you felt the same way? Like hearing someone say a racial slur or even when someone refuses to see understand your point in a class debate. Or how many times have you rolled your eyes at your parents because they refuse to believe that life for you is different than when they were growing up in the 50s an 60s?

These are all, on different levels, examples of ignorance. Ignorance is what I want us all to fight. By learning to live and accept that others are and will always be different, we take a step away from ignorance, and a step towards knowledge.

You don't have to separate yourselves from your friends and hang out with people who have nothing in common with you; Just open your mind. Realize that your way, your life, isn't the only path to take. In short, don't have a narrow mind.

Thank you for listening to me today. Congratulations to those of you being awarded today-you have taken an important step in your knowledge of books and facts. But there's another step all of us can take, a step towards knowledge of people, of the world.

I would like to end with a quote I found in a fortune cookie a couple of weeks ago. It reads,
"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance."
Thank you.

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