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Mackenzie House Lifers' Farewell

2 September 2022
Amber Lees, Mack ‘22
When I first arrived in Grade 9, as an awkward brace-faced adolescent, our year felt so big, and yet, in retrospect, I’ve realized how rare and how special we are as Lifers in our graduating class. For four, maybe even five years, we’ve watched each other grow up, both in height, maturity, and self-identity - and it’s been a privilege being able to have loved and learned with all of you.

To my core people, those who welcomed me with open arms, there is nothing but gratitude and thankfulness for all of you, and although many have come and gone, there is an undisputable knowledge that we have been here from the very beginning - together.

To Eric Ericson, my very first roommate and friend - we made it, and along the way we found ourselves. How crazy that is to say. When I look at you, I feel grounded. I feel like how I did all those years ago when Auburn from Bangladesh met her polar opposite, and yet that unlikely pair became an iconic, and inseparable duo.

Emily and Amy Pavlis - thank you for all of the laughs and for convincing me to join rowing. Your encouragement and energy have always left me in awe. For some reason, all of the Mack girls collectively rowed in Grade 9, and those that didn’t still showed up to practice and cheered their fellow Mack residents on, a spirit that is an inherent part of this warm, and chaotic household.

Solange Stewart-Hansen, I can wholeheartedly say that I will never meet someone like you, so full of love and compassion. You taught me so much about finding beauty in the mundane, and I thank you so much for that. You shaped Brentwood and made it your own, and it has been so wonderful watching you thrive in that.
Thrown into Math 9 rotation, I remember so clearly being attached at the hip to Jade Khau as we simultaneously recorded photobooth videos with Mr DeSandoli and tackled polynomials, those same activities growing at the same rate we did as we traveled from Grade 9 to Precalculus 12. You are truly a sister to me, and it has been a privilege growing up with you.

Hugging Sophie Bossi in the hallways and scampering away from her as she tries to tackle me in field hockey will always bring a smile to my face, and it fills my heart with so much joy when I think about her unwavering compassion. Alongside Sophie in Mack’s dungeon day-student room is Jocie who has such a calming yet powerful force, embodying wisdom beyond her years.

There are both few and a cacophony of words to describe Serena Muller: effervescent, elegant, devoted, rare. You light up my life, and I am so, so grateful for you.

Mackenzie House is my family, and every step of the way for us has been supported and nurtured by an incredible team. I and the entirety of Mack House thank you for all of the work that you have done: Ms. Scheck - the kindest and most patient person I know; Ms. Lawrence - thank you for helping me find my voice when I couldn’t find the courage to; Ms. Ramsay - you are sunshine in a person and I am eternally grateful to have met such a strong character. Thank you, Robbie, for tea times, boy talk, and AP Research advice. To Ms Nasmith - from lemon squares and grilled cheese Fridays to motivational talks on empathy and compassion, it has been an honor. Your ability to understand and fully immerse yourself in perspective, whilst simultaneously making sure our uniforms are correct, will always be a fond memory for me. You have embodied the role of Houseparent so well, and I am so proud of you. Finally, to Ms Cheung, thank you for laughing at my sub-par jokes and being my second mother. You have greatly impacted my life, and I know that extends to all of the people in our house. Being a Houseparent is never easy, and yet it has been such an inspiration to watch you put others before yourself with so much devotion and care.

I always associate June with movement. The moment you graduate people start moving. At the end of high school, my dearest friends will scatter with their mum and dad to other states and countries, embarking on the next chapter of their lives. My desire for them to stay is more readily marked by my desire for them to go where they need to go. Desire would be a good unofficial theme for June. I will dearly miss the excitement of Brentwood’s first snowfall, the panic the night before a cross-grade, and the craving for Brentwood’s notorious eggs benny. When June hits part of the solstice, part of the culture is taking a look at the guest list. Whether you throw this metaphorical party or not, I recommend one long gaze at who you might invite, who might not be able to come next year, and who would have been here if it were just a year before.

June is a spectacular time for this. The heat breaks before the sun sets and there’s a small window of time to see these friends in the clarity of that glow. It’s a good time to say thanks, to say I love you, even if I know you’re looking to go.

Amber Lees, Mack ‘22

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