Thanksgiving is always in season
Maddison Wooten '19 and Dora Yang '19

In Saint Mary's School Thanksgiving Chapel on November 13, seniors Maddison Wooten and Dora Yang reflected on what they are grateful for this Thanksgiving season.

Maddison: Reflecting on our shared memories over the years, from the first time we met each other, to now, and everything in between, we realized that we oftentimes forget to intentionally appreciate these experiences. Additionally, in reflection, we have recognized how our experiences come together and make us into the people we are now. And for that, we are grateful. So, as we approach Thanksgiving, we thought we'd share some stories of our experiences and our gratefulness with you all today.

Maddison: Dora, what grade are you in?

Dora: Junior? Oh, wait, I am actually a senior!

Maddison: So often we are asked this question here at Saint Mary's, and most of the time, I hesitate to say "senior." When I think about the fact that I'm a senior, it honestly just amazes me. I still remember first meeting Dora in our Honors Physics class freshman year. For a solid three, maybe four months into that school year, she almost always called me "Chandler" - who happened to be my roommate. Not only that, she pronounced "Chandler" as "calendar." But good news- we've made it so far since then.

Dora: In our daily lives, we often focus on just getting to the next day, week, assignment, event, or whatever it may be, and we forget to slow down and appreciate all of these things. As seniors, our lives revolve around our college applications. Looking forward, our graduation is only in 186 days away. However, I can still recall sophomore year, when Maddison and Chandler were my suite mates, and we always locked each other out of the bathroom. I still remember when Maddison first tasted the snacks I bought from the Asian market; she hated the sesame seaweed but loved the strawberry koala shaped cookies. Although this was sophomore year, it seems like it was just yesterday.

Maddison: Reflecting on our shared memories over the years, from the first time we met each other, to now, and everything in between, we realized that we oftentimes forget to intentionally appreciate these experiences. Additionally, in reflection, we have recognized how our experiences come together and make us into the people we are now. And for that, we are grateful. So, as we approach Thanksgiving, we thought we'd share some stories of our experiences and our gratefulness with you all today.

Dora: When I was in middle school, I didn't have much time to participate in extracurricular activities since we had a heavy study load every day. When I first arrived at Saint Mary's, I was amazed that everyone had a good balance between their academics and their extracurricular activities. As a Saint Mary's student, we have so many opportunities for activities, like joining a sports team, taking a dance class, participating in the play, or something else.

During the spring of my freshman year, Maddison told me she was going to try out for lacrosse. I had never heard about lacrosse since it is not a popular sport in my country. However, I felt it was important to jump out of my comfort zone and try something new. So, I borrowed a stick from Maddison and joined the preseason. At first, it was very difficult since I was the only new player on the team and could not even scoop a ground ball. I thought about giving up and quitting, but my coach and teammates were so supportive of me. Some of them spent extra time practicing with me and teaching me how to catch and pass, and others helped me to learn the rules of the game.

Being a member of the lacrosse team was the best experience of my freshman year, which makes me realize how lucky I am to live in such a warm and supportive community. I couldn't have made it through the season without all the support. This is just one of the many moments that I appreciated during the past three years, all of which have shaped me into a better person.

Maddison: When I was a freshman, I would have laughed in your face if you had told me I would be speaking in front of the entire school every Monday morning of my senior year. I was always very cautious and apprehensive, so naturally, the thought of speaking in front of all of you absolutely terrified me. However, as I am standing up here in this pulpit, it is clear that there has been a big change in my thoughts and feelings toward public speaking.

As I'm sure many of you know, last year, each girl in our grade gave her junior speech. For me, this was possibly the single most dreaded day of my life. Although at the time of my speech, it was difficult for me to be grateful for the opportunity, in hindsight, I now recognize and appreciate the guidance and extra push I received from my community to step out of my comfort zone. I am thankful for my friends and mentors, especially Dora, who were supportive of me along the way. Without their encouragement, I would not have faced my fears and consequently grown from the experience.

Although I still get a little nervous before each assembly, before I read a Bible verse or a prayer in chapel, and especially before this speech, my growth from these previous experiences allows me to feel more comfortable in situations involving public speaking. I am grateful for my support system and the opportunities presented in this community that continually encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and to grow in the process.

Dora: The great people and our experiences at Saint Mary's have changed both of us throughout the years.

Maddison: Although Dora and I gave pretty concrete examples of our gratefulness for our opportunities over the years, there are so many other things we have to be grateful for, especially in a place like this. Moments worthy of appreciation come in all different forms, sometimes bigger than others, and sometimes so small that they pass us by without anyone noticing.

Dora: For me, I am especially grateful for advisory off-campus lunch, late start on Wednesdays, Chick-fil-a breakfast, and eating at Seoul Garden, a nice Korean restaurant, with my roommate during weekends.

Maddison: And for me, I am especially grateful for Chapel sunsets, 'dillo, getting out at 12:30 p.m. this Friday, the view outside of third floor Smedes' windows, and Oreo the Outside Cat.

Maddison: During this season of Thanksgiving, we hope you all recognize and appreciate those things for which you are grateful, in whatever form they may come.

Dora: We also hope you will act upon your gratefulness, because it is never a bad time to make your appreciation known.

Maddison: And lastly, we hope you strive to express and inspire this grateful mindset in your community, family, or wherever it may be, for Thanksgiving is always in season.

Amen!