2014 Commencement Address by Christopher C. Holbrook '82

To the class of 2014, I have had the privilege of getting to know many of you over the years and without exception I have been impressed with your character and your dedication to each other as friends, teammates, collaborators, leaders and role models.
You know me as Parker’s father and now as your commencement speaker. However, I am not your typical choice for this role. I am not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Nor have I written the great American novel. What I have done is lived a life informed by the values that I have learned here at Millbrook as a student, a parent and a trustee. I have devoted myself to causes that I feel passionate about and I have made a difference in those fields. And together with my wife, Alice, we have raised a family steeped in the values and lessons that we learned here at Millbrook.
Again, speaking directly to the young ladies and gentlemen who are about to become Millbrook alumnae, the greatest gift I can give you today is to articulate what Millbrook has done, and will continue to do, for you. To ask you to look at what you have accomplished here at Millbrook, and, most importantly, to take Millbrook with you after today. Soon, most of you will be heading off to college. Some of you will find yourselves in Juniors programs pursuing your athletic talents and gifts. Other still might find yourselves taking a gap year, traveling and exploring.
Regardless, all of you will continue to mature, continue to grow personally, discover who you are and what you will become. That is what Millbrook has prepared you for.  Those of you who will pursue a traditional track, will find yourselves in four
years sitting under some stately trees in a beautiful quad somewhere. You will be listening to some luminary imparting advice to you. Inevitably, they will quote great thinkers. They will encourage you to seize the day. They will urge you to push yourself beyond what you think your limits are, fail, pick yourself up and try again. They will tell you that you have inherited the world and they will charge you with changing the world for the better.
All of that is true and appropriate, in the future. I want to encourage you to remember that you are still growing. The “Prep” in prep school is to prepare you to take advantage of the next phase of your life. Prep school is not finishing school. With the notable exception being High School itself, you have not finished anything. You have not finished developing your character nor orienting your moral compass. And, you will never, for the rest of your life, be finished learning. That is why today is a commencement, not a conclusion.
You don’t need to change the world tomorrow, this summer or in the next year. Ultimately, you will find yourself in position to make a difference in the world. You will wield great influence and you will be able to effect great change, because you will take Millbrook with you, wherever you go. Think about what makes this place special and unique. Think about what you have learned here and remember the call to be a positive force in your community, whatever that community is. Recognize that the best results while you were here came from respectful collaboration and an ability to see your actions in light of their effect on a whole. Remember the little things you were asked to do which made a cumulative huge positive impact on the environment. 
On a more personal level: think back on the apprehension, yet pride, you felt applying for a position of responsibility. Embracing the communities’ positive reaction when you put yourself on the line in Chelsea Morrison Theater. Don’t forget about the way the school reacted after a great win over Brooks in hockey. And remember how the baseball team picked themselves up after seeing a four run lead against Berkshire evaporate late in the game. Most importantly, embrace the reality that day in, and day out, you interacted with, and had an effect, on everybody on campus. You experienced their highs and their lows. Their good sides and bad. And everybody saw these things about you.
If you take nothing else away from here, I am asking you to take those memories and develop a personal filter. A filter comprised of Millbrook’s core values and the cumulative lessons you have learned here. Then, pass your future decisions, both large and small, through that filter.
Now all of this is beginning to sound a bit lofty. That is not my intent. With the great good fortune of observing and talking to my two, and very soon to be three, Millbrook alumnae children, I know that you have not spent your days here contemplating ideals, the nature of right of right and wrong and best ways to give back to your community. 
When not in class you were thinking about day to day issues like figuring out where you could get some decent cell coverage. Debating with yourself as to whether you could skip assembly and get away without an absence. Checking out what’s for dinner and deciding that, yes, tonight you were going to call Stagecoach.
But thinking back to those loftier issues: the great news is that you didn’t have to consciously grapple with these core values. They exist in every aspect of the school. They have been imparted through every interaction you had with the faculty and administration, whether you were aware of it or not. They became a part of you from your first day here when you had to join
fourths soccer rather than take that strength and conditioning option. And they have been with you right up through your advisor pushing you to improve the presentation aspect of your CES. Like it or not, you had no choice but to absorb the culture of this institution.
Of course Millbrook’s ideals and core values are often stated overtly. These are the times when you have had a chance to really reflect on how you live your life and how the decisions you make greatly effect a wider community. Whether at the First Night Ceremony, a Chapel Talk, dorm meetings, or anytime you were fortunate enough to have a meaningful conversation with
a senior administrator, dorm parent or coach. You were being asked to look deep into yourself. You were being asked to pass yourself through that Millbrook filter. Now, it is up to you to take those experiences with you, and go through that process on your own.
Your time as a Millbrook student has come to an end, but it has given you a great head start and, as I have learned first hand, a tremendous advantage as you go forward with your life.
I am going to say that again: Your time at Millbrook has given you a great head start and a tremendous advantage as you go forward with your life.
Do not even think of questioning this statement, just take it on faith. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Do not doubt it. Millbrook will be with you for the rest of your days, and this is not just a good thing, this is the best thing.
Congratulations Class of 2014
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