There’s no easy way to do this. To move on from somewhere that has meant something to you for an amount of time, and to head out to the unknown. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, I moved to Pomfret when I was ten years old, and since then it has been my home. The town, the school, and the new and old faces that have come and gone here, they’re all a part of my sense of home. Pomfret is my Sugar Mountain.
“Oh to live on Sugar Mountain,
With the Barker’s and the colored balloons,
You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain,
Though you’re thinking that you’re leaving there too soon,
You’re leaving their too soon.”
These words by a hero of mine, Neil Young, wrap up my time I’ve spent here at Pomfret School. Neil wrote the song “Sugar Mountain” when he was nineteen years old, and it is in the perspective of someone moving on from a place where they can no longer be. And though that person has spent many years on said Sugar Mountain, they still feel that they’re leaving there “too soon.”
Well, that is how I feel about Pomfret. With so many good and bad experiences, I’ve been able to figure myself out. But I still feel like I am leaving Pomfret too soon.
Why is this the case? Shouldn’t I be ready to leave after all this time? Well, I will be when it is truly time to leave. As of now, I’m still here, so I’m going to be here with every ounce of my being. I hope you all can do this with me.
The rest of the song goes on to tell the story of seeing “a girl just down the aisle” and the “noisy fair” where all of your friends are—even your mother and your father. The people who have made me smile are here. They’re in this chapel and they’re in this community. Right now, I want to thank anyone here who has made me feel happy. It’s said a lot, but at least in my situation, there’s no better way to say it: You all know who you are. Thank you.
So what do you want to do? What do you want to feel about this place when you leave it? When your high school career is coming to a close, I hope you feel like you’re leaving here too soon. It means your time here was well spent. You have the ability to find yourself here. That’s all high school is worth. Don’t lose your mind here—Find it.
“Now you say you’re leaving home, because you want to be alone. Ain’t it funny how you feel when you’re finding out its real?” The final verse in Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain resonates with my idea of what is real. Leaving Pomfret? That is something that is real. These feelings are real. Pomfret has done that for me. It has allowed me to feel.
Finding out that leaving my home is “real” is a new feeling, but it’s a reflective one. I look back on the teachers and mentors here who have impacted me during this time. Like Mr. Peck for never giving up on me as a musician, showing me all that music can offer, and always treating me as an equal. Mr. Houmard for challenging me with things I never thought I could accomplish. Dr. Ford for his great wisdom, and for all of his kind words. Mr. Martin and Mr. Browne for teaching me to not doubt myself and for helping me find my love for the outdoors. Mr. Lamb for helping me discover another side to art that I never would have found without his enthusiasm and support.
Finally, Mr. Boyd has been another father to me, and has been there for me when I felt like there was no one left to turn to. Four years ago during the middle of the fall term, I was this close to leaving Pomfret, and I would have it wasn’t for Mr. Boyd telling me to give this place another two months. I’m really glad I did. Thanks.
I also wouldn’t be here right now making this speech to you all if it weren’t for my mother, father and sister. I hope to make the three of you proud one day by taking advantages of the opportunities you’ve given me in the past, and for the future in which I am about to embark on.
Well, thanks for everything Pomfret. You’re my Sugar Mountain, the colored balloons, the friends at the fair, the girl down the aisle, the place that’s real, and the home that I am leaving too soon. I won’t forget you.