Ella White ’18 and Abraham Miller ’18 were recognized as the Rotary Club of York’s Students of the Month in September. Each student gave a speech to the club’s membership about transformative moments and experiences in their lives. Below are the transcripts of their speeches:
I came to York in the summer of 2009 in a small car, packed with two dogs and a sister on the way. My parents and I left behind family, friends, and everything we’d known back in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Mississippi is isolated–and, even for a university town, Hattiesburg feels removed from culture, politics, art. As a kid–especially a kid interested in movies and acting and singing and books–it felt like there was nothing to do in a place seemingly only interested in tailgating and cookouts.
Hattiesburg feels like a small town, and when we left it was still recovering a bit from Hurricane Katrina, which had devastated the area four years earlier. Down on the Gulf Coast, just an hour south of where we lived, you could still see the foundations of where houses used to be–where the front steps were, the toilet was, where the rooms were–but there weren’t any houses there anymore. Because of Hurricane Camille decades before, most of the houses along the coast were built on stilts to keep them above the surge. After Katrina, all that was left were the stilts.
When I was 9 years old and my family and I came to York, we were almost starstruck by how metropolitan things seemed. Things like a comic store and more than one book store seemed awesome. At York Country Day School, where I enrolled in 4th grade, I was suddenly being challenged and engaged in a different way. I started to be excited about going to class every day. Even now, I still am. I mean, I don’t always want to do my homework—but I go to school and I get to learn and I get to be important.
Bigger schools can mean you have to be louder and more extroverted to be noticed, which feels like the same thing as important when you’re sixteen. I get worried, like everyone does, that I’m not noticed in the right way. But I get to go to a school where every space is safe, where I can go to any teacher I see to talk, because I know all of them–and I love them, too.
In the end, I’m lucky, I know. It’s not as though I didn’t have a nice middle class existence as a kid back in Mississippi—I did, it was nice: I had big birthday parties, watched Disney Channel, took trips. But though Mississippi was and will always remain a great part of me, my experiences since leaving there–since coming here to York and having the great opportunity to study and grow at YCDS–this area has shaped me, led me to become the person standing before you now.
And I think often of the kids around the world who aren’t as fortunate as myself, who aren’t here today holding your audience. People who somehow weren’t lucky enough to arrive here in York like I did 7 years ago just this past month, with my Mom and Dad (and the dogs and the unborn sister). Lucky enough to go to York Country Day and be a part of the way our administrators and students, with the support of you here, are taking learning into the 21st century.
Thank you for recognizing our efforts, and for allowing me this honor to speak with you today.
Good afternoon my name is Abraham Miller. I am currently a junior at York Country Day School. I have attended Country Day since first grade.
Something that takes me outside the walls of school is a passion of mine…ice hockey. I am now in my 10th year of travel ice hockey. My first four years of hockey I played for the York Devils, here in York. I currently play for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in West Chester, Pennsylvania. This is my fourth year playing for the Jr. Flyers. Hockey has provided me with many opportunities to travel all over North America. I have been to great cities like Boston, Phoenix, Montreal, Detroit, Cleveland, and Quebec. My time in Quebec stands out to me for several reasons. I participated in the International Pee Wee Hockey tournament which is often considered the little league world series of youth hockey. During this two week tournament I lived with a French Canadian family. This was a great opportunity where I was able to sharpen my French language skills, as well as afforded me the experience of living with a different family in a foreign country. We still keep in contact with my host family from Quebec and they have even visited us here in York several times since my trip in 2013.
Besides traveling to many places in North America, hockey has also taught me many lessons including time management, perseverance, teamwork, and commitment to my passion. Time management has been important because I travel an hour and half one way twice a week every Wednesday and Thursday. This is in addition to my weekend games when I travel between Connecticut and Washington DC. This grueling schedule requires me to manage my time effectively in order to get my school work finished. Over the years I have shown much commitment to the sport I love and to my school work. At times, I have had to make sacrifices such as missing social events sponsored by the school due to my need to travel to weekly hockey games. These are lessons that can be transferred, not only in my current efforts at school, but also my future career as a doctor.
I was elected a member of the National Honors Society in my sophomore year, have consistently made the Headmaster’s List, was recently elected class representative to the Upper School Student Council, and am taking challenging courses at York College, including one being taught by former County Commissioner Mitrick.
I believe that my participation in hockey has provided me with an avenue to develop skills, both personal and academic, that have contributed to my achievements, and I look forward to continued success.
Thank you for allowing me some time with you today, and for granting me the honor of “Student of the month”.