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Graduation 2014

Graduate Student Speaker: Nikko Dominaitis

Being a student at Shore Country Day School has changed my life in many ways. As I look back on my years here, I realize that Shore has given me much more than just rigorous academics. Extraordinary friendships have been built with classmates that will last a lifetime. Tremendous relationships with teachers and advisors have been established. We’ve been encouraged to challenge ourselves both in and out of the classroom. The work has been demanding, but we’ve always had the support of a strong and caring school to help us through.

One of the greatest things about Shore is my classmates. I couldn’t ask for better friends than the ones I have made here. Whether it’s around the lunch table at school, or on top of a mountain in Maine, my classmates bring out the best in me. The entire ninth grade class is a unit. We look out for each other. Although our school is competitive, instead of succumbing to rivalry, we have embraced camaraderie.

We have found many ways to balance the heavy workload with lots of laughs. Most of this takes place in the ninth grade lunch room. It’s a great place to kick back and unwind. Unfortunately, over the course of the year, we’ve been banned several times from entering. The boys in the class really don’t understand this, although it must have something to do with food being found in unusual places, and random writing on the ceiling, likely the work of the ninth grade girls. Banishment from our lounge has forced us to branch out. We venture over to the Lower School jungle gym, and plot pranks on Mr. Griffin. The stunt we are most proud of took place at Mountain School. We removed all of the furniture from Mr. Griffin’s bedroom and switched it with the living room furniture. Much to our surprise and delight, he retaliated, taking our shoes and throwing them away in the trash.

The girls have participated in their fair share of antics as well. We were taken aback when we discovered the girls had been secretly creating Halloween costumes for months. They unveiled their bright yellow minion costumes at the Halloween parade, shocking us all. Not only are the ninth grade girls capable of their own mischief, but they also have many other admirable attributes. They liven up any school occasion, and they are incredibly athletic. The Girls’ Varsity basketball team is undefeated this year. And the Girls’ Varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams are undefeated for the past three years! The ninth grade girls are truly amazing!

Shore’s teachers are one of the best parts of our school. Academically, they expect a lot from us, but they find ways to motivate and inspire us. In Ethics class, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Clarke have taught us to think more deeply about everything we do. In Biology, Mrs. Koval has shown us that even the most seemingly simple things are in their own ways complex and interesting. We’ve learned to approach new subjects with curiosity and confidence. Our teachers have encouraged us to speak out in class, to take bigger risks, and to push ourselves further. They have taught us to believe in ourselves. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.”

Our teachers have provided us with an incredible foundation. They have celebrated our victories and helped us through difficult moments. We’ve all experienced success, and each of us has learned a little about failing, too. Personally, I’ve learned that the difficult times can make me stronger. Our teachers support us all, at every turn, and by doing so, they have taught us the importance of community.

In addition to outstanding students, and excellent teachers, Shore has a “secret weapon,” our Head of School Mr. Griffin. I can’t explain why he is so good to us, but he’s had a tremendous impact on our lives. We’ve gotten to know him by taking several of his classes and going on numerous school trips. He has a certain way of getting our attention. He can mesmerize the whole class when he tells a campfire story, and then scare us half to death with a gory ending.

We’ve learned it takes a lot to upset Mr. Griffin. Once, returning from a school trip to New York City, he drove for seven hours straight, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with a bunch of students crammed into his white Cadillac. When we finally arrived back at Shore, exhausted and car sick, the interior of his car had been all but destroyed. It was littered with junk food, trash, spilled soda, and smelly sneakers, yet he still had a smile on his face. To me, this showed his true patience.

One of Mr. Griffin’s most important attributes is knowing how to get the best from a student. He sets the bar high, and tells you he has the "utmost confidence in you." This leaves you with no choice other than to try your absolute hardest. I've come to believe Mr. Griffin is the embodiment of our school motto, “SUUM QUISQUE OPTIMUM,” from each his or her best. Mr. Griffin gives all of the students at Shore his best, every day, and in return he expects the same from us. This is not an easy order to live up to.

Shore has meant so much more to us than we ever thought a school could. We have been lucky to experience the Shore community. We’ve been inspired by one another, mentored by our teachers, and shaped by the values of our school. We will leave here as strong, caring, confident students. We are ready to pursue our goals with compassion, rigor, and when necessary, a sense of humor. Today, from this position of strength, we take flight. Our options are limitless, our trajectory set high. We are aiming for that bar, and I can say, with absolute certainty, we will continue to strive for it every day!
    • Ninth grader Nikko Dominaitis eloquently delivered his remarks to his fellow graduates, faculty and staff, and guests in attendance for Shore

      Ninth grader Nikko Dominaitis eloquently delivered his remarks to his fellow graduates, faculty and staff, and guests in attendance for Shore's Graduation ceremony on June 11, 2014.