Since 1919, the Rosary Alumnae Association has recognized a senior student who writes the best essay on a given topic. In 2021, the winning senior was honored at our closing Prize Day ceremony. Congratulations to winner Haydée Dennard '21.
Haydée is pictured below receiving the award from Rosary Alumnae Association President Sibby Gwin Charbonnet '01. Haydée's winning essay on Courage and Confidence appears below.
Many years ago, in a city long since reduced to rubble, there lived a very old philosopher named Heraclitus, and he named two conflicting paradoxes as the ultimate laws of the universe: one, that things are able to stay the same because they change; and two, that opposites are the same. Because the water of the Mississippi River is constantly moving, constantly changing, the river itself is able to remain a river. And we cannot look at the water of the Mississippi and call it flowing without something still to compare it to. The still water in the lake at its source transformed into the flowing water of the river, and through that change, the lake remains a lake, the river remains a river, and the water remains water. Saint Madeleine Sophie understood this concept when she named our lives as “lives of conflict” and still told us to pursue them with courage and confidence.
This senior class, just as every senior class before us, understands how quickly and thoroughly life can change. You don’t even have to look to our futures, the evidence is already here; the change has already happened. No one in my class is the same person that she was on the first day of freshman year, nor even on the first day of senior year. Some changes are smaller--a grade, an opinion, a haircut--and some are more definitive--a friend group, a value system, an identity--but it is because of these changes that we are able to remain true to ourselves.
Saint Madeleine Sophie understood that change requires challenge, requires some disruption of the norm, which is why she said that we all lead these “lives of conflict.” We also know that in the same way that rough waters cannot exist without still ones, courage and confidence cannot exist without conflict. Sacred Heart knows that, too. When we stand up to give a presentation, when we sit down to take an exam, when our exchange program sends us to foreign places, when our student council campaigns require a speech, when we step onto state championship courts and fields, when we are delivering our lines in a play, when we are applying to colleges, when we are exploring a difficult topic, having a weighted conversation, when we must adapt to the changing circumstances of our world, Sacred Heart is always there, pushing us with a gentle hand, and whispering, “have courage.” Sacred Heart knows that our lives outside of these walls will have challenges that it can’t prepare us for, but even when the context changes, our ability to find that courage, to do what needs to be done, will remain.
Sacred Heart itself is able to remain the same through change. Though we’ve done a lot of growing and changing between these walls, Sacred Heart is the constant that keeps us all together. And it is precisely because of these changes that Sacred Heart can remain the same, even when we are gone. Yes, students and teachers will come and go, classrooms will shift and grades will graduate, but each year of change perpetuates this institution. Just as you cannot have night without day, you cannot have a school without students. Every bright eyed girl that becomes a capable woman within these walls gives the school its purpose. Though we will watch the details change over time, that purpose will remain the same. In every way that Sacred Heart has changed us, it has reinforced itself.
Heraclitus’ teachings can be found in all aspects of our lives. Because things change, they are able to stay the same. We have undoubtedly changed, the school has undoubtedly changed, but it is precisely because of that change that we are still ourselves, that Sacred Heart is still a school. Because change is inevitable, conflict is also inevitable. Sacred Heart gave us conflict and change, and the courage and confidence to overcome it. The fear of change, of conflict--and the courage and confidence to overcome them are one in the same, existing because of each other. There is no courage without fear, no confidence without uncertainty. With courage and confidence, we embrace the change; with courage and confidence, we remain true to ourselves.