Montrose Graduation 2017 & Full Texts of Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches


Perfect 60 degree weather brought a cool breeze to warm hearts at Montrose’s 2017 Commencement exercises. Senior Class President Emma Schiller ‘17 emceed the event with characteristic flair while Neil Jacob, Chairman of Montrose’s Board of Trustees, left graduates with a new word: “Finishitive.” Mr Jacob  inspired the Class of 2017 to finish all that they start — as they did at Montrose and as they engage the world.

Two long-time teachers received tributes: Mrs. McKinney, who celebrated her 30th year teaching at Montrose, and Mrs. Leist who finished 25 years teaching.  Associate Head of School Mrs. Elrod praised Mrs. McKinney for her passion for the Montrose mission and for teaching generations of students to maintain high standards and the proper order for life: “God first, community second (family and friends), and ourselves third.” Mrs. Elrod also praised math teacher Mrs. Leist as a “dedicated instructor” who has inspired students to have confidence in themselves.

Salutatorian Nathalie Rodrigues Vas Falcao ‘17 gave the first speech, emphasizing the concept of SFD (the Silly First Draft) to characterize both the fun and serious side of upper school while encouraging the graduates to strive for work-life balance in the world. She ended her speech reminding the students that college is “the new draft for the next stage of our lives.” (See Nathalie’s full speech below).

Dr. Bohlin followed, with individual tributes for each graduate, personalized addresses which brought moments of surprise, delight and tears to the grads. Mary Glynn ‘17 captured the sentiment of the class when she revealed the impact of the personal tributes Dr. Bohlin shared: “None of the seniors were prepared for how personal the tributes were. We were all taken aback by the comments which warmed all of our hearts. Going to a place like Montrose, we know that faculty take the time to get to know us. But, at graduation, it really showed. Those tributes could only be written by people who knew us well. Each was creative, artistically formed and undoubtedly individual to each person – and only that person. To hear how other people see you, to hear that they really see you brought speechless smiles and teary, grateful eyes. We all left the stage starting to become aware of how blessed we were to go to a place like Montrose.”

Graduation speaker Elisabeth Anne Delgado, president and founder of Kinderenergy, a California-based non-profit committed to building awareness for the fact that children are our most important resource, challenged the graduates to: “Know who you are; stay on the path; get to work; and enrich the Earth.”

Valedictorian Carmen Bolivar ‘17 closed the day with a moving speech centered on the metaphor of puzzle pieces to illustrate how the graduates have continued to build their strengths and identities over the years of upper school, like a series of puzzle pieces. Yet, as they graduate, they realize: “The pieces that we try to fit together may not always fit together the way that we want them to.  It is precisely in this confusion, where we can meet and  place our trust in God. He will put the puzzle pieces together in a way we never thought imaginable.” (See Carmen’s full speech below.)

After the graduates processed out before a standing ovation of proud families and faculty, they first greeted each faculty meeting in the M&M, an event filled with smiles and shaky tears. As Mary Glynn ‘17 said: “The successive line where we all hugged the faculty was the first moment as graduates where we could show our gratitude.”

Carmen Bolivar’s Valedictory Address

Good afternoon Dr. Bohlin, Trustees, faculty, chaplains, family, friends, and especially the Class of 2017, my sisters.  Congratulations ladies, we finally made it! After years of hard work, late-night study sessions, laughs, and life-long memories, we can finally say that we are high school graduates!

In a recent conversation with family friends, we began to discuss how each of our lives is a puzzle.  I remember being ten years old and loving puzzles.  However, I also remember the confusion when I tried to complete my puzzle and saw that I had missing pieces.  I remember the frustration of staring into a sea of similarly designed pieces for an endless blue sky or expansive green landscape. Would I ever be able to complete this, to achieve my desired image?

Throughout high school, we have been trying to put together our own puzzles to achieve our desired goal and image of who we want to be.  We joined clubs that we were interested in and took classes that fed our intellect.  We asked the big questions: “What is happiness” and “What is truth?”  Through these questions and explorations, we began to put together the pieces of everyday life that form the puzzle of who we are.  But there was another force leading us along, another important piece of the puzzle.

Aristotle once said, “In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.”  This “marvelous” that Aristotle speaks of is the beauty and awe that God endows to each of us from the moment that we are created.  As you sit outside in your backyard on a summer day, or you travel to one of the wonders of the world, there is something beautiful that you experience in those encounters.  I have witnessed this beauty within each of the girls on this stage today.  Whether conquering great adversity or comforting someone in need, each one of you has reflected something that nature itself reflects perfectly.  

When we were born, God stamped us with a purpose and mission for our lives: the secret to our puzzle.  For the past 18 years, our friends, family and teachers have cultivated and helped us grow into that purpose.  As little children, they taught us what was right and wrong.  In moments of difficulty, they consoled us.  In moments of triumph, they celebrated us.  Now, they watch on as we begin placing together the latest puzzle pieces of our lives.  It is time now to stay the course, to continue to fit the pieces together, to discover the exact purpose of our lives.  We have the chance to explore our interests and discern what our mission will be.  

Each of us is different.  Some of you will become doctors, with the purpose of curing those in need.  Others will be teachers, with the purpose of helping others search for their purpose.  In each of us, our aspiration should be to fulfill whatever purpose that God has designated for our lives, with a loving heart and a desire to help others..  

Just like my puzzlement as a child, throughout our lives, we may become confused or daunted by the number of pieces and  how they fit together.  We will not always understand why certain moments are happening in our lives and what the purpose of our lives is.  This is the time to remember, there is no rainbow without a storm, and no masterpiece that was achieved without mistakes along the way.  The pieces that we try to fit together may not always fit together the way that we want them to.  It is precisely in this confusion, where we can meet and  place our trust in God. He will put the puzzle pieces together in a way we never thought imaginable.  

As I look back on my years at Montrose, I remember all of the memories I have with each of you.  I remember the moments of pure joy and excitement.  I also remember the times when you were there to let me cry on your shoulder.  We have become a family, and God has graced my life with the memories and blessings of our class.

In the next few months, we will each go on to explore the pieces of our puzzle that God has in store for us.  These years at Montrose have instilled a spirit of fortitude within each of us, and I know that as long as we each remember how marvelous we are, and how great a force God has in each of our lives, our puzzles will come together with beautiful, colorful pieces of joy, determination, and success.  

I want to thank every person in my life who has taken a chance on me.  Thank you for constantly pushing me to work hard to achieve my greatness.  Thank you mom and dad, and all the parents here, for inspiring each of us to work hard everyday.  Thank you Class of 2017 for teaching me the values of friendship, kindness, community, care, and joy.  You have truly been my sisters all these years.  I know that you will each complete beautiful puzzles throughout your lifetimes. I can’t wait to hear about the exciting and life-changing adventures God takes each of you on.  Thank you everyone and congratulations to the Class of 2017!  

Nathalie Rodrigues Vas Falcao’s Salutatorian Address

(Good morning.)

High school is, in the words of Sarah Lepsevich, the “SFD” of life.

For those of you who don’t follow the ever changing class of 2017 lingo, an SFD is a Silly First Draft.

Like the grammatical errors every writer faces, there are common problems that every graduating Montrosian will face as they venture off into the land of no kilt.

But throughout our years here, whether that be seven, four, or fewer, we have accumulated the proper skills to deal with the common problems that college life will throw at us.

I know what you’re all thinking. After today we will be venturing off to college and be hit with responsibility, student loans, and the horrors of having to pick our own outfit out, every. single. day. How can we be expected to survive all that? We could  barely keep our class fish alive, RIP november,  september, and December. We spent our paychecks over the past four years at Starbucks, Dunkies, and Blue Moon. and as for the last one, the fashionable uniform has convinced us that plaid is still in fashion. It isn’t.  

But I wouldn’t worry too much. We, the class of 2017, are a strong one. Sure carrying the furniture through houses during My Brothers Keeper was an ordeal at the least, and life threatening at most (I’m sorry shannon I didn’t mean to almost crush you with a couch. But) We’ve made it through many things during these past years at Montrose. For one, we got through no phones in school (usually),  Boxes as lockers, Capstone and we accepted each other differences.

But back to the SFD, let’s go over  some common problems that we all are inevitably going to face this fall.

First off, there’s the work-life balance that is always hard to achieve. I know especially with our class, all the teachers know we have always been the victim of working too hard on projects and giving more than 110% in class. Despite that, we always found ourselves dancing or singing to the newest dance craze and being caught by the likes of Ms. Rice and Mrs. Elrod before most classes. So we’re good on that point.

Then there’s the dreaded Freshman 15. But I got to be honest, after years of Elegant Lunch, Casual Lunch, Birthday Treats, Skittles from Father Dick’s office, our proximity to about 4 pizza places, 3 coffee shops, and one amazing bagel place I’m surprised we didn’t all go through a Montrose 20 ourselves. So we’re equipped to handle that as well.


And finally, there’s always the issue of finding our group this fall. Throughout our years here we’ve gotten to know each other in different ways. Now as we graduate we find ourselves wishing we knew more about some of us, and wishing we didn’t know as much about others.

Either way, we all pulled together as a class.

Who would’ve thought that our class, so segmented at our Freshman lunch tables would be buying fish four years later as our class pets.

We didn’t become good friends with each other here, we became great friends. Good friends will say congrats to you when you get a college acceptance.

Great friends, will be at your door with cake, balloons, and ice cream an hour later. Good friends will drive with you to get a donut on a chilly day, but great friends will walk 1.2 miles with you to get bagels.

One thing I’ll miss about Montrose is how there’s a high sense of appreciation for everyone in this school. I mean think about it, in what other schools can you walk down the halls and not only know the names of every person there, but be able to have a conversation with them during your elongated breaks to the water fountain?

Where else can you get to know your teachers as people and learn about their abilities to sing classic songs like Slim Shady or their Monsters Inc Roz impressions. Montrose made all of us realize that school is much more than academics. Sure it was nice to see an A on top of a test (weird brag i know) but it was even better to walk into class everyday and see my friends sitting in every seat.

Although we didn’t believe it all the time, Montrose is a truly special place.

But you see, while our days roaming the Montrose halls during break time and class time have come to a close, our time with Montrose has not.

While we will be walking through the doors as we leave today for a final time, Montrose will still not have left us.

While we have clung to our group of friends and let other friendships slip away over the years, we will still have eachother.

Because these past years were anything, if not memorable. These past years have shaped us to become the person we are now, sitting on this very stage. So we will never truly leave Montrose behind because we will always have ourselves, we will always have the lessons we learned,  and we will always, always, have each other. So Class of 2017 can you believe it? It’s time to put down the SFD and start on a new draft for the next phase of our lives. Because we’re not just Seniors anymore, we’re so close to becoming alums. Congratulations Class of 2017, we made it!