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Final Upper School assembly hits notes of grace and poetry

The final Upper School assembly of the year was, in equal measure, exhilarating and bittersweet for those leaving the school for good or just setting out soon to enjoy the summer. Head Steward Ben Mahon wrote a well-received poem that was designed to “wrap up the year and wish everyone the best of luck on their exams and to have a wonderful summer,” he said.

As well, English teacher Gillian Levene offered a touching memorial address to honour friend and colleague Christine Kouremenos who passed away suddenly in November, leaving an emptiness in the lives of so many.

Here are the transcripts of both those addresses:

Memorial for Christine Kouremenos

By Gillian Levene, Intermediate Division form adviser and subject division co-ordinator, English Department

One of the awesome privileges of being a teacher is having the lifecycle perpetually in view. Time is neatly, if rapidly, marked by a start, a middle, and an end. Y1 boys of spectacular promise and imagination quickly transform into graduates of the same cloth. And while there may be sorrow as we witness their departures, there remains a very real comfort in knowing that this pattern is both much larger than us, and in continual motion.

It is with an understanding that UCC’s walls are a storied reminder of times lived and times to be that — prior to the year’s next phase — we pause for a moment and reconnect with the memory of Ms. Kouremenos. To say we miss you, we honour you, we carry you with us.

To say that your tremendous spirit lives on in vast and brilliant ways. In the footsteps of boys unsure of their place, and in the tenacity of mentors determined to see them through. You are the voice of principle and heart wherever your colleagues gather to debate; the passion of your peers supporting a cause, a friend, or an ideal; and in the kindnesses we show one another every day, particularly during times when it feels as though the world has exhausted our humour or sense of purpose.

Of the many families of which Christine was a part, we were so lucky she came into ours. She made everyone she touched a little lighter, knowing they were cared for with such ferocity, such indiscriminate warmth.

When I returned from maternity leave in January, I worried Christine would be difficult to find, for I could no more hear her in our adjoining classrooms or desks, on our journeys home to the neighborhood our families shared. I held tightly onto our last encounter, a surprise visit to bring my baby boy flowers a week or so before she left us.

But she was, is, so clearly, everywhere; most immediately, she shone through the gestures of a group of 13-year-old boys, her advisees and my Y1 form, to help each other navigate sometimes-difficult terrain. “One never knows of another person’s suffering,” they taught me, “so you might as well endeavor to treat others with grace.”

Our memories of Christine are as rich as they are deep. They are echoes of loss and love that inform who we are and how we treat each other. Our dear Christine, we mourn your absence, but we celebrate your presence anew. Above all, we thank you, and as we move forward, hope to do you proud.

Thank you.

Assembly Address, Ben Mahon, Head Steward

I understand that it is Monday morning and most of you would rather be in bed dreaming about the summer, so I am going to keep this short and sweet. I decided to write another poem. Here it goes.

“A Year in Review”

The school year has quickly flown.
A lot of growth you boys have shown.
Together we have conquered on so many levels
from football to soccer we have so many medals!
A-Day and May Day were a huge success
and who can forget our battles in chess!
Our bands and debaters have given us pride.
We’ve won competitions by more than a landslide.
We should all be happy to celebrate another great year!
Our brotherhood was always present, willing to cheer!
From Friday Night Lights to Winterfest
you boys are always there to represent our crest!
As the traditions continue, the students will change
but UCC and the Old Boys will never stop the exchange.
We will all be back, I can promise you that.
UCC will always have a welcome mat!.
School is an important place to treasure,
the special moments and the ones that give us pleasure!
You sit in these pews with your friends and housemates.
You all share interesting and unique character traits.
Without you guys, who walk the halls
this school would be nothing but old walls!
You all bring passion and excitement into our space!
You make UCC a very special place!
I want all of you to remember
we have a brand new year come September.
Another year to enjoy the College,
a time to cherish and gain knowledge.
Our summers are close, we can soon enjoy the heat!
But first we have exams to beat!
Many more papers until we are done.
Ten more days until some real fun!
I want to wish everyone the best of luck.
Work hard and be focused so you don’t get stuck!
Year after year we all succeed.
I’m convinced blue blood we bleed!
I want to leave you with these three takeaways:
Enjoy the summer until our next school days.
Have fun at home, or wherever you may roam.
and just remember you will never walk alone.!

Thank you.
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