In the inaugural chapel speech of 2014, School President Rachel Godfrey spoke of her personal journey to happiness and ended with words of advice (“lessons from my mother, SpongeBob, and Oprah”) about the power of love, laughter, and friendship.
. . . And so I set on a journey to love myself. Luckily enough, a woman came to my middle school to speak about an organization called NJSEEDS that helps high-achieving kids from low-income families get into private schools. At first, the idea scared me. Why would I want to leave my home? But a little voice in my head said, “What have you got to lose?” Okay, that little voice was actually my mom. And it was the best decision I have made so far in my seventeen years of living, because it brought me here. It brought me to Pomfret.
In the orientation period I was walking through the dining hall, when a small boy with brown hair walked up to me. He was yelling, “Rachel, Rachel!” stopping me dead in my tracks. He came extremely close to my face, looked me dead in my eyes, and whispered, “I like you. We’re going to eat lunch together.” Dumbfounded, I followed him to a table. He introduced himself as Keith Cocozza O’Hara, but he preferred to be called KC. And this boy turned out to be so beyond easy to talk to. Within the time I spent with him, I began to feel accepted by someone. And from the moment we had lunch together, I knew he’d be my friend for a long, long time. And he was the first of many. These encounters were only the beginning of the whirlwind that was and is my Pomfret experience. And with this year I have left, I plan on it getting even better.
In the Pomfret family, we hold two truths to be self-evident: love and laughter. Within the varying personalities that make up my family, these truths are the things that bind us together. We could be separated for months at a time, but when we reunite, the time is filled with tears, the happy kind, flowing from everyone as nostalgia hits the safe space. Recollections always include stories of how I told Colby Breault I liked him and thought he was really cute on a smelly stairwell in the student union, or of how I hated Thomas Wheatley because he was so energetic, but how that animosity has turned into love. A personal favorite of the family’s is to talk about how Tory Read once got her head stuck in a hanger while we were studying for a Spanish exam.
We’re a strange bunch. And I still don’t believe that all good things come to an end. After graduation, some of us may not see each other for a long time, but if we are truly a family, we will meet again. Seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, and faculty. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my mother, SpongeBob, and Oprah that I’d like to share with you all. Make the most out of everything. Positivity is key. Patience is important. Speak up for yourself. Every day can be a great day if you make it that way. Love yourself. Do not be afraid to love other people. Make sure you laugh at least three times a day. And, of course, surround yourself with the people that will build you up, instead of breaking you down. My name is Rachel Godfrey, and I am an optimist. And since my freshman year on the Hilltop, I have learned what it feels like to truly be happy. Follow all the rivers and roads that are necessary until you reach a place in your life where you can say the same, for happiness is the best thing anyone could ever feel.