The Importance of Kindness


This address was given by Class President DJ Poulin ’19 at Williston’s 178th Convocation. Find more about the event, including links to photos, videos, and other speeches, here.

How’s everyone doing? For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Donald Poulin, but everyone just calls me DJ.

Before today, there have been 177 convocations. That’s a lot. Over the years, I’m sure convocation has seen many topics discussed and many speeches made. I’ve been to five convocations myself, today being the sixth. I thus feel honored to take part in today’s proceedings. I took writing this speech extremely seriously. As such, I revisited convocations of the past. I noticed that there are some similarities amongst them, one of these being the student speakers. You see, the student speakers always try to pass down some wisdom that they’ve learned to the students during their time here. I, too, would like to pass down wisdom. Unfortunately for you, I have no wisdom. I don’t know the secret to success and I don’t know the best way to live. To be honest, I don’t even know when my bus leaves tomorrow. Coach, if you could remind me afterwards, that would be great. To be serious, though, I won’t stand up here and pretend I have all the answers. I will instead discuss something incredibly simple, something everybody knows, yet not everybody fully understands, and that is the importance of kindness.

To quote Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When I think of all the people I’ve ever met, I don’t think of how smart they are, or how athletic they are. I think of how they treated me, and how they treated others. Where’s Vishnu? Let me tell you all something about Vishnu; he is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. He’s always willing to lend a hand when you need one, and he’ll always have something positive to say. Of course, he’ll still give you a point if you’re out of your room after curfew. Still, no matter who you are, Vishnu treats you the same way. That’s why, in ten, twenty years, even if I never see him again, I’ll still remember Vishnu as a good friend. So there’s one way to be kind: talk to everyone, whether they’re a senior or a seventh grader, whether they’re a boarder or a day student, whether they’re a student or a teacher.

Of course, that’s not the only aspect of being kind. There are actually many aspects of being kind. For now, though, let’s focus on an easy one; appreciate those around you.. We all know that we’re supposed to say please and thank you. We learned that long before high school. Yet, at some point in time, some of us stopped saying it. Consider this a reminder: say please and thank you. It takes no effort whatsoever, and it shows you appreciate what has been done for you. Thank your peers when they do you a favor, thank your teachers after class, thank the dining staff when they bring out food, thank the cars when they let you cross the street, and thank your parents, grandparents, or whoever made it possible for you to come here. Whenever someone does something for you, no matter how big or small, thank them I’d like to take this moment to thank those of you who already do this. To those of you who don’t say please and thank you, well, you know who you are, and, frankly, so do I.

Kindness seems easy, and it is, but it’s also easy to forget when you have so much on your mind. At Williston and in life, you’ll have a lot to think about and do. Here, on this campus, you’ll juggle academics and athletics, school life and social life. You’ll study hard for that calculus test, you’ll work hard out on the field to beat Deerfield, you’ll go out with friends to relax a little, you’ll take the SAT too many times, and all the while you will almost definitely not get enough sleep. All I ask is that amidst all of these things, you don’t forget how important a bit of kindness is. You decided what this school is like. I know you’ve heard that a million times, but it’s still true. If you’re all kind, this will be a place I’m glad to have had a hand in. I hope you will all do great thing, but more so than that, I hope that you will all be great people. Thank you.