Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Remembering the Gentlemen & Recognizing the Brilliant

"Now, Justice delos Santos will say a few words for us."

. . .

Let's go back, about say, one month.  It was a normal Saturday evening.  I was relaxing following an exhausting track meet in which I set a new personal record in the mile with a time of 4:45.  My girlfriend even paid me a visit.  It was a great day and I felt the need to relax and get life off my mind.  
Lo and behold I received an email notification from the man, the myth, the legend Don Gosney regarding who was going to speak at the school board meeting on behalf of my cohort.  I didn't respond quickly, as not only was my body gone, but my mind was a little shot as well.  I fell asleep on the couch and woke up with my head a little more mentally refreshed.  I opened up my Gmail app and read my emails.  Fellow cohort member Julie Lum volunteered to speak at the dinner, which left who was going to speak at the school board meeting and represent the Cornell cohort.  It took me a few moment, but I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to announce my presence in the Ivy League Connection.  I responded that I would be willing to speak on behalf of my cohort and drifted back on off to dreamland.  

Fast-forward one month later.  Wednesday, May 20th.  The big night.  The opportunity to speak in front of the school board and make my cohort proud.  I had just finalized my speech about two hours prior to arriving at Livonia DeJean Middle school.  Upon arriving, I met up with my fellow cohort member Stephen and we chatted it up a little bit.  We saw our fellow cohort member Shanti and we all walked into the beautiful multi-purpose room together, where we saw Julie and Thao.  Helen showed up a couple minutes and we had our whole cohort together 20 minutes to 6.  I was nervous as heck when I walked into the gym and saw the school board's semicircle formation on the stage, with the menacing black chairs.  It was something about black that made me fear this speech and dropped my heart.  I solidly examined the stage and told myself "There's nothing to be afraid of.  Go out there and represent." It brought me ease. 

Prior to the meeting, I mingled with some students from other various cohorts, too many to specify because everyone was so incredibly friendly and made me feel welcome.  During the course of conversation, I noticed an eerie trend when I looked around.  I couldn't confirm it until I counted.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Seven.  Only seven boys?  Total?  There's no way this is right.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Seven.  To my shock, there were only seven total boys enrolled in the Ivy League Connection, which absolutely rocked me.  I knew that there was a discrepancy between the number of girls and the number of boys but my goodness!

As the school board meeting started and I settled into my seat, I began to get my mind right, remembering presentation tips from Mock Trial and mentally preparing myself for what's ahead.  The meeting began nice and smoothly.  Members of the school board started going through various topics and two student representatives from Samuel Gompers High School were present, (congratulations Gompers!) which, in my opinion, was a great sight to behold.  After they went through a couple items, an announcement was made that the Ivy League presentations were going to be moved up from the fourth item on the agenda to the second.  When I heard this my stomach sank.  I was content to let people plead their cases before the school board and ease into the transition, but they moved the presentations up right ahead to the front of the agenda.  "Stay calm, stay cool, stay focused," I thought to myself.  "It's no big deal.  You know what you need to do."

We were scheduled to be the second cohort to present on the list, with Columbia going first.  My good friend Alyanna was going to be reading a speech, so when her name was called, I cheered for her.  When she started reading her speech, I came to realize that many of the phrases she used were almost directly out of my own speech, which I found incredibly funny considering that we didn't consult each other about the speech until the night of once!

After Columbia sat down and Cornell was called up, I got incredibly nervous because I knew that all my pre-meeting preparations were about to go into effect.  All the practice and repetition was about to be put into work.  We were introduced one-by-one by our chaperone Mr. Chan-Law.  When he said my name, I felt a sense of pride because it hit me at a ton of bricks that I was one of the luckiest kids on earth to have the opportunity to go to such a prestigious university.  After Mr. Chan Law said a few words, he concluded by saying, "Now, Justice delos Santos will say a few words for us."  

"Remember, Justice," I thought to myself. "Pace yourself, five points of presentation, breathe, and smile."

Those may have been the fastest two minutes of my life.  When I started speaking, the words started flowing out of me.  I'd glance at my paper from time to time, but I wasn't glued to it as I tried as hard as I could to make eye contact with every member of the school board.  I was no longer nervous and with each word spoken my confidence grew more and more.  At the end of my speech, I felt ecstasy because I knew I made my cohort proud, the program proud, and of course, my parents proud.  Everyone in my cohort was telling me that I killed it and I truly felt that I had properly represented the 2015 Ivy League Connection Cornell cohort.  

Following amazing speeches by the remaining schools, we all shuffled into the gym where we organized ourselves, got mobbed by the Ivy League Connection parent paparazzi, and took some incredibly beautiful group pictures, about 30 in all.  I was able to introduce myself to more people and congratulate those who made their speeches.  It was a fantastic way to end an unforgettable night.  Before disembarking for the evening, I made sure to collect all of the boys and take a group picture.   Boys were apparently a rare species in the Ivy League Connection these days so all of us meeting in the same place warranted a picture.  Before our kind gets bombarded from the Ivy League Connection by the likes of the female race, I remembered only one phrase: "Remember the gentlemen." 

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