Commencement 2023: Speech by Vikram Shankar ’23

June 22, 2023

Hello Class of 2023, This time four years ago, I jotted down on a little post-it note what I wanted my ideal high school life to look like. (Pulls out Post-it note). I was able to find this Post-it note recently and I wanted to share with you all some of the goals I had for high school. Let’s see… bananas, jalapenos, pumpkins; Oh this a grocery list for today, whoops. (Pulls out another Post-it note). Ah, here we go, four years of fun with friends, getting better at my passions, and please Vikram cut your hair before freshman year. I was a shy kid coming from a small middle school in Massachusetts, and I knew the transition to high school was going to be tough, but I was determined to find my place here in this new school. I took each day as it came and tried to make the most of it, especially that first year. Some days I’d be too nervous to talk to someone new, and on others, I’d try to say hello to everyone I saw. I still cherish moments from this first year; like meeting Drew on the first day of preseason practice for soccer or riding the bus to school every day with Alex and Eliot in the mornings. It’s crazy to think how- in a minute but not right now -actually, in like 45 minutes but what will feel like 90 minutes, we will have officially graduated and will be starting this four-year process anew in our various colleges.

By the time senior year came around, I thought I had figured everything out when it came to my life at Wheeler. I knew where the comfiest chairs were, the best places to eat on Thayer (which is Mike’s Calzones obviously), and I had met many people on the way whom I feel honored to call friends. However, by the start of this year, I should’ve known each year always comes with surprises and new things to look forward to. Some things stayed the same: Mr. Himelfarb still always roasted me both in and outside of class, and whenever I’d see Mr. Bourbeau we always said Wazzup! Even with these familiar occurrences staying the same, the year still had many surprises waiting in store. For example, I never thought I would see Anand and Wyatt do a karaoke battle against each other, Josh dunk Arden in the dunk tank, or Frank get sturdy in the prom mosh pit. I also was surprised by how our class remained close and tight-knit in our first and sadly last full year without major Covid restrictions. Despite the challenges of our past years, together we laughed at jokes, played tons of spike ball, and bonded into the class we are today.

Thank you to all the parents who put up with us on early mornings and late nights as we tried to complete our homework. Thank you to all the teachers who taught us in-person and online, and whose lessons will travel within us far beyond the classroom. And, especially thank you to Mr. Boyd who is leaving Wheeler this year with the class of 2023. Wheeler will not be the same without you, and Will and I will be sending you more Norm Macdonald jokes over the summer. I also want to thank my co-president Audrey for going on this journey with me. Finally thank you to the class of 2023 for giving us the opportunity to serve as your co-presidents. I feel proud to graduate with a class filled with artists, musicians, athletes, writers, scientists, and so many others. I hope your time here at Wheeler has made you feel proud, and that you leave today with lasting moments and memories. A personal favorite memory of mine was Manu’s Eye on Hand Halloween costume from freshman year.

As I look back on this Post-it note I smile and try to think about the person I was then as I wrote it. I think about all the students and teachers I’ve met along the ride, the places I’ve been to, shoutout to Portugal and Jazz, and the experiences I will carry with me for a lifetime. Each year, I got closer to more of you, and whether I knew you all the way back in JV soccer freshman year or if we have grown closer as seniors, I’m glad to have known each and every one of you. In Mr. Hanson’s economics class, he’d give us a slip of paper with a chart of Nicholas Cage pictures from movies so we could circle if we are feeling happy, tired, relaxed, etc. Today I’m feeling a lot of emotions, including BEES!, but most of all, I know for a fact, I would never have wanted to go through this thing we call high school with any other group of people other than you all here.