Sabrina Cohn

For those of you who know me, it’s good to see you, and for those of you who don’t know me, it’s nice to meet you.

My name is Sabrina Cohn and this is my senior speech.

A boy was walking lightly along one day through a lush green park filled with flowers. The flowers came in every shade and variety. He often saw butterflies fluttering around the flowers. The butterflies were grey with black dots towards the edges of their wings. As he was walking he found a chrysalis: a cocoon that a caterpillar forms around itself so it can transform into a butterfly. The boy saw this chrysalis and decided to take it home so he could see the butterfly once it broke free of its self-imposed prison. After some time of having the chrysalis in his room, the boy began to hear a scratching noise from inside. He knew he should not help the butterfly. So he sat and listened to the constant scratching from the inside of the chrysalis. He tried to resist, but eventually he could not. He went to the chrysalis and opened it. A butterfly with royal blue wings outlined in black crawled out tentatively, flapped its wings once as hard as it could and died.

When I was in the fifth grade, Mr. McCormack told a story similar to this. Mr. McCormack's speech had a message that if you help another person too much, they will not gain the strength to stand on their own. His speech resonated with me and I have lived by it for several years.

It worked. . .  until last year.

Last year I decided to take on harder classes than I ever had before and cut myself off from the Renaissance support staff because I believed I needed to support myself. Since I wasn’t accepting help, and I started taking harder classes, I began to drown. I spent all my time trying to keep my head above water so that I was never able to truly swim, or to go above and beyond in my work.
 
As the year went on I was just barely keeping my head up until I had weights tied to my ankles. I joined the fall play, as I did every year. Once the cast was set, the knot became securely fastened around my ankle. I was stuck. There was no way to make it out of the water by myself. I realized I couldn’t do it on my own. I looked to my side where the life preserver had been before, and found that it was nowhere to be seen. When I had finally decided that I couldn’t stand on my own, the people around me already believed I didn’t need help. They had turned their efforts elsewhere.
I looked inside myself and realized that it’s ok to ask for help. So what do you do when you need help but none is offered? You ask. Teachers no longer asked if I needed help, so I went and asked for it, and they gave it to me. I had not asked for help in so long and when I got it, it was like finally being pulled from the water.

There is a lesson to be learned. Mr. McCormack’s speech taught me that you shouldn’t help someone too much or they won’t have the strength to stand on their own. I learned that, while standing on your own is a good goal to have, trying to do so without help before you are ready can hurt as much as help you. Mr. McCormack taught a good lesson, but it is a lesson that needs to be taken in moderation. Just like the butterfly we need to build our strength gradually, it doesn’t come all at once. We’ll be ready to fly once we go through the work and take the steps to get there.

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Rolling Hills Preparatory School

One Rolling Hills Prep Way
1500 Palos Verdes Drive North
San Pedro, CA 90732

T: (310) 791-1101 | F: (323) 310-9973 
Rolling Hills Prep School prides itself on being a forward-looking, academically rigorous college-prep school with a soul. Every day we provide our diverse student body a high-powered traditional curriculum combined with stimulating and innovative teaching techniques both inside and outside the classroom because we believe that success in college and life is best attained by equipping our students with disciplined minds, sound character, healthy bodies and creative spirits. RHP is a private, coeducational day school for grades 6-12, located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, CA.

Renaissance, our sister school, believes that bright students who learn differently can rise to great heights when they become empowered and confident. Visit the Renaissance website.