Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Senior class president Sienna Giuseppi’s graduation speech: ‘Boxes cannot contain us forever’

Senior class president Sienna Giuseppe gives her speech. (Cristina Stefanizzi)

We arrived at this school in boxes. Usually, one would emphasize that this is simply a metaphor, but our unique freshman year experience meant we literally started high school in tiny virtual boxes, sprawled across the screen. Our very first day of school was not spent making a pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning or even exploring the halls of the high school, and our boxes of pencils remained sealed as we sat with a muted mic, enclosed within the four walls of our home.

Very few people, I think, would want to return to this period of isolation, as time spent confining ourselves within a box simply is not enjoyable. Over the past few weeks many of us have ordered prom dresses, graduation shoes or unnecessary dorm essentials delivered to our homes in boxes, but boxes are meant to be opened.

Eventually, we made it out of our virtual state, but we remained boxed in by plastic dividers. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past four years, it’s that boxes cannot contain us forever.

Branching out has been a repetitive theme in my high school career. From zero period orchestra classmates to late-night field hockey teammates, every one of you has had an impact on my life. Just like all of you, I’ve learned to not just be a musician, or an athlete, an artist or a researcher, but instead to allow my interests to overflow any container I put them in. High school has been a time where we are meant to meet new people, try new things and allow ourselves and our hearts to grow bigger and bigger.

On my parents’ wedding day, my mom told my dad, “Today is the day I love you the least.” Now that might sound bad at first, but trust me it’s not. Obviously, that was a happy day, but that was the day she loved him the least because their love would only grow more and more every day after. So Class of 2024, I hope today is the worst day of the rest of your lives. I hope you are the least happy, the least sure and you feel the least loved as you’re surrounded by every one of your classmates and family members because I only hope the interests, connections and joy in your life only grows. Don’t keep your heart in a box. Let it overflow. Say hi to your peers today, tomorrow and ten years from now, because before our shipping label says CEO or college graduate, it said Pelham Memorial High School.

And here is where we learned to unbox ourselves. When there was finally a return to normalcy, we were hesitant, unsure and still slightly boxed in by the remnants of a digital world. Yet, we found ways to break free. We started joining clubs, playing sports, performing in theater productions and attending school events. We began to understand that high school is not just about classrooms and textbooks; it’s about the connections we make and the experiences we share.

By junior year, we were well on our way to unboxing ourselves. We faced challenges and pressures—AP exams, college applications and the uncertainty of the future. But we also found strength in our friendships, leaned on our mentors and discovered passions that made our hearts race. The boxes we started in began to tear and fray, unable to hold the expanding interests and growing confidence we carried within us.

As seniors, we truly came into our own. We saw victory, and defeat, but something I am most proud of is…

As we leave behind the confines of Pelham Memorial High School, I urge each of you to keep breaking out of the boxes you find yourselves in. Whether it’s a dorm room, a new job or any new environment, leave your door open. Make connections with everyone you meet. Don’t just dip a toe into your interests—dive in headfirst. Let your passions overflow and spill out of any container they might be placed in.

Even as we enjoy our last summer all together, don’t stay boxed in your room or digitally enclosed on your phone. Share dinners with your friends and family; when you walk out of the enclosure of PMHS, say goodbye at the front door and continue to grow into a person bigger than yourself.

Over these past four years, many of us have peered out of our boxes, and some have left the cardboard behind altogether. We’ve learned to stretch our boundaries and expand our horizons. As we are shipped off and delivered to the next phase of our journey, remember to keep trying new things, meeting new people and never letting your heart stop expanding. Don’t keep your heart in a box. Let it overflow. Say hi to your peers today, tomorrow and ten years from now, because before our shipping label said CEO or college graduate, it said Pelham Memorial High School. And here is where we learned to unbox ourselves.

Our time at this school has been about more than just academics. It’s been about discovering who we are and who we want to become. We’ve faced challenges and overcome them together, and we’ve grown in ways we never imagined. As we move forward, let’s carry with us the lessons we’ve learned here: The importance of community, the power of perseverance and the courage to break free from the boxes that seek to limit us.

So, Class of 2024, as we stand on the brink of a new beginning, let’s promise ourselves this: To keep our hearts open, our minds curious and our spirits unboxed. Let’s embrace every opportunity to learn, to grow and to connect.

Congratulations to each and every one of you. Let’s go out there and show the world what it means to be truly unboxed. Thank you.

Senior class president Sienna Giuseppi gave this speech during the commencement ceremonies Saturday at Pelham Memorial High School.

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