Speech by Head Prefect Katieanne Peterson, Class of 2020

Good morning Dr. Jacobson, Faculty & Staff, Parents and Families, Students, and… the Class of 2020!! My name is Katieanne Peterson and I have the honor of serving the Upper School as Head Prefect this year. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Mount Vernon. With lots of exciting changes occurring this year, we open up a new beginning.

Let me take you back to my very first beginning at Mount Vernon: the start of Pre-K. I walked into Mrs. Suzie’s class with a backpack that was basically touching the floor and my hair in super high pigtails. There was a door in the classroom that led outside, and everyone thought it was the coolest thing ever. Those who were already there were sitting on a large rug in the middle of the room. As I entered the room, another girl, wearing a giant back to school bow in her hair and an equally large backpack, also came in. She walked right up to me, smiled brightly and said, “Hi, I’m Lauren, want to be friends?” Little did she know that 14 years later, she would still be stuck with me.

This story perfectly embodies my favorite part of Mount Vernon: our focus on relationships. Building deep, personal relationships is such a key aspect of our lives. That day, Lauren took the first step in building a relationship with me, and we’re both better because of it. This year let’s focus on relationships. When we are surrounded by friends, families, teachers, and all other supporters, we are better for it. When we reach out to people we don’t know or those who hold different views than our own, we are better for it. We are simply better when we are together.

Just this past weekend, while in the wave pool at our senior retreat, two students lost items of tremendous sentimental value. We literally stopped the waves, jumped from our tubes, and began scanning the bottom of an incredibly large wave pool. And not a single one of us had goggles to help! It seemed hopeless as the minutes ticked by and yet we couldn’t give up while our classmates were in pain. Through sheer determination and with a little luck — we found them.

Class of 2020 at Senior Bootcamp

You see, when working together, we can accomplish something that may seem impossible – like retrieving a tiny earring and thin necklace from the bottom of a giant wave pool. Not a single one of us could have found those items on our own. In that moment we were, and always are, better when we work together. Every year we encounter high points and low points. During those low points, those hard times, lean on your relationships with friends, family, and supporters. Going through a tough time is even harder when you are alone. With others around you, it is easier to bear the load. Together, we are better.

This year, I challenge you to be bold and form new bonds and relationships with those that you haven’t yet. Take the time to strengthen the connections you already have, too. Make a new friend, help someone out, and meaningfully invest in each other. Build relationships that last beyond the bounds of a building or classroom. Come together this year, and make the 2019-20 school year the best Mount Vernon has ever seen. We are Mustangs. And we are better together.