My Hawk Within and its Will to be Free

June 15, 2012

On Thursday, June 14, the Class of 2012 made individual speeches at their Graduation Ceremony. We will be posting those speeches here in the coming summer weeks. Walden School congratulates the Class of 2012 and reminds the newest alumni “You can always come home to Walden!”

My Hawk Within and its Will to be Free

By Fiona Humphrey
Class of 2012

“You can put a hawk in a songbird cage, but it’s still a hawk.” I live by this Shin-a-in proverb. I draw hope and patience from it because I am like that hawk. I am who I am, and no one has the power or the right to change that. Walden has not been my cage. It has been a vast, beautiful forest, untouched, with cloudless skies because Walden supports that freedom – the freedom to be who you are.

If one isn’t oneself, their identity becomes invalid. I shouldn’t try to become another person, just as a hawk shouldn’t try to become a pigeon, or other kind of bird. If I was a hawk and I tried to become a kingfisher, no one would know what I could really be like. I would be lost in the act. My identity itself would be lost. I would be stuck as a hawk living off minnows attempting not to drown. But Walden taught me that though I might admire the grace a kingfisher has or its beautiful feathers, I am different, and should be proud of the attributes and unique-ness I have. A hawk is built for a different lifestyle. Walden has helped strengthen my pride by their support of who I am and the freedom to be who I am.

If one isn’t oneself, their unique ideas are forgotten and die. I can prove this with a story from my early childhood. When I was in 1st Grade, Daniella and I were the best of friends. But one person, a new girl in Kindergarten, stood in the way of our friendship. This girl separated us and forced us to play her games: usually “Princess.” (Not the “I-can-save-myself-thank-you-very-much” Warrior Princesses. The useless, soft, “Oh-no-I-lost-my-shoe” princesses that rely on other people to save their butts every time they get into trouble.) The hawk was being forced into becoming a parakeet. I had no unique ideas that year because I was focused on the girl and what she was doing to me and Daniella and how I couldn’t fight back. But that got me to thinking, “What are my interests, anyway? Who am I, really?”  And that allowed me later on to find out who I really was through the support and encouragement of my teachers because Walden supports the freedom to be who you are.

Being yourself makes a difference in the world. Maybe not a large difference at first, but the little things can grow to something large as they begin to snowball. An example can be made of me. For instance, I’m a hawk in nature, but a gracious one. I always hold the door for anyone who’s going through. It’s against my instincts to shut the door on someone. But were I to start trying to be someone I’m not, all my focus would go to that and I wouldn’t think of others as much. That little bit of kindness that might make someone’s day would disappear.

What would have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. had been suppressed as a child and never spoke out? Yeah – things would be a lot worse for commonly discriminated people. What if Albert Einstein was declared a weirdo and instead of shaking it off, spent his life trying to be someone else? A huge leap in science would not have been made. This is what happens when people don’t embrace who they are. Walden understands this. If a child’s ideas are suppressed, a potential great scientists or famous rights activist would never exist. This is why Walden supports the freedom to be who you are, because this is where change for the better is created.

Before I finish, there are people who I need to mention: people who helped my find my voice. Without them, my freedom would be useless, because I wouldn’t know who I am. These people need recognition. There are five teachers who have been instrumental in my growth here at Walden.

Tina, you started me on the path to being a kind, understanding person, like I am today. You were the one who ignited the fire of creativity in me and my love for reading. You remain the teacher who I look up to the most, with your kindness and gentle yet strong personality. I’ll never forget you.

Grace, you taught me perseverance and bravery. When I didn’t want to do something that would come in handy later, you would make me do it anyway, but not in a mean way. I may not have liked it at the time, but I’m insanely grateful for it now. Bravery you taught inadvertently. As kind, nurturing, funny, and awesome you were, if we had done something really bad and you got angry…let’s just say we cowered in fear. But I faced my fears because I knew that you meant the best for us.

Terra, you were the most influential person in my childhood. You helped me beyond belief through the transition into the Upper Core and early adolescence. I don’t know what I could have done without you. You not only strengthened me beyond belief mentally, you showed me how to speak through writing and give myself a voice. You were kind, understanding, supportive, and wise all at once. You will be sorely missed.

Danica: how in the name of cheese do you put up with us on a daily basis? We have been insane; you even mentioned once (jokingly, of course!) that you might have to get the straight jackets out! Yet no matter what crazy problems arise in your life, you would be there, taking care of us to the best of your ability. This is dedication like none I’ve ever seen, nor am likely to see again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And Marcia, you have patiently stuck with us and checked my homework in your free time. You’re funny, interesting, and a wealth of wisdom. If you weren’t helping me, I would probably be doing sixth grade over again! You will be remembered.

I can’t leave my parents out, now can I? Mom, Dad, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be making this speech. Heck, I wouldn’t even be alive! You have driven me back and forth, to and from school, and helped me with any problems that arose. You endured my rants and gave me good ideas to apply on the world. And thank you for paying my tuition.

Walden has given me strength and freedom for my journey. My wings are fully-fledged and ready to fly to unexplored lands. Will my new school be my cage? Only time will tell. But if it becomes one, I’ll be prepared and break free. Because of the training in freedom I’ve learned here, I’ll endure whatever comes my way. But a hawk can’t stay away from its old nest forever, I will come again to visit my dear mentors, and help teach the lessons they have taught me.

One Response to “My Hawk Within and its Will to be Free”

  1. Mindy Says:

    Fiona, this rules. Gorgeous speech! Congrats and have a great summer.

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