Graduation Speech - Maren Lelonek

Welcome Trustees, Deacon Michael McKeating, Dean Ann Suchyna, Faculty and staff, my fellow students, families, and friends. Thank you so much for coming today. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to come and support Janine and me. Can you believe Chesterton academy has successfully ended its first year?!! This year was one of the best years of my life and Chesterton is the best school I’ve been to. I’ve been to five different schools, I should know.  One thing that I’ve learned here is to be thankful, so first I would like to thank some people.

First, and most importantly I would like to thank God. He gave me such a wonderful gift of being able to go to such an awesome school and meet such special people. He had the Holy Spirit push me to come here, knowing that this school is what I needed and has made me the happiest I’ve been in the longest time.

Second I would like to thank my parents for such a wonderful opportunity to be able to follow God’s will to come to Chesterton Academy. I know it was hard giving up the fancy cars, the vacations, the big house. I know I have not always acted like I appreciate it but I really do. I hope I made it worthwhile and made you both proud.

Third, I would like thank my brother Jurek who has been there for me whenever I needed him. Thanks for being there for me and keeping me in line.

Fourth, thank you teachers, faculty, and staff for your patience with us and making sure we learned what needed to and being open to all the questions we had, no matter how ridiculous they were. Thank you also for showing us how our faith is the basis for everything and helping us understand it more.  All of you were the best teachers I’ve ever had.  Thank you.

Last but definitely not least to my fellow classmates. Thank you for all of your support and fun times we had together. I could not have made it without you guys. Thanks for all the great memories. You are the best and each one of you has a special place in my heart.

When I first heard about Chesterton Academy, I thought it was such a great opportunity for other kids. I had no idea that I would be one of those kids. I was a junior at Mount Mercy Academy who just switched schools because my other school, Holy Angels closed. I didn’t want to go through all of that again even though I wasn’t very happy at school.

A few weeks passed after hearing about Chesterton and I started to forget about it and started to drift into a depression. I wasn’t friends with the right people, my grades dropped, and my faith in God was fading. Then a situation happened at school, which brought me back to thinking about Chesterton Academy.  I remember talking to my mom about it and her telling me we will just check it out and it would be a backup plan if the situation at school got out of hand. So we checked it out.

It seemed like an incredible opportunity but it was just a backup plan. Back at school things got a little bit better. The situation didn’t get out of hand and I made new and better friends, who are here today, but I still wasn’t happy and was slipping deeper into my depression.

 My mom loved Chesterton when we went to the open house so much she found out the date of the next open house and made both me and my dad go. At this point I still was considering it a “back up plan”. Both my mom and dad thought it was perfect for me and said I could switch schools if I wanted. After that I knew I was supposed to go there but I was scared. I was going to have to meet new people, make new friends, and this was its first year so what was the education and teachers going to be like? Was it going to be worth it?

Man was it worth it. Yes I had to meet new people and make new friends but everyone else was new too. I made new friends and fell in love with Chesterton Academy. It has taught me not only lesson in History, Philosophy, and Theology but life lessons that has shaped who I am today. I became so much stronger and more confident in my faith. Everyone at Chesterton is like family to me. We’ve had our ups and downs but we all stuck together and got through it together.  So here are a few words of wisdom that I have learned from Chesterton Academy:

1) Always Trust God and put him first in your life: God is the most important person in your life. No one can take Him away from you unless you let it happen. God will always be there for you no matter what. The outcome that you want may not be the He gives you but it’s the one you need. Each one of you is special and is called to change the world, whether it be small or grand. God never gives you even an ounce more than you can handle and does not let you suffer for no reason. Never lose faith in Him. If you put Him first, you will always be successful. Chesterton Academy always put God first. We go to mass everyday and pray before class and everything we do.  They taught us that God is the most important person in our lives and no matter what to honor him throughout our lives.

2) Stick together- This year was a great year We all became like family. You guys are wonderful with accepting others. Make sure to always accept the new students next year. With that said, the devil knows this school is exactly what God wants and what he doesn’t. He will do anything to destroy the good in this school. If you see this happening, bullying etc., say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and defend and protect what we stand for, of course with kindness and compassion. Do not be afraid because that fear is not from God. Stay strong and stay together.

3) Everyone has a story- When I first came to Chesterton, I was having a pity party for myself. “How could all of these bad things happen to me?” or “Why me?”. When I started to become friends with others, I heard their stories which were so much worse than mine. I realized everyone has a story. God uses everyone for different purposes. Don’t ever judge someone on something they did or have done. We don’t know why they have done what they did. Always, no matter what they have done to you, treat them with compassion and kindness.

4) Always be thankful and forgiving – Lastly always be thankful and forgive. There is always a reason for things happening. When I went to see Mrs. Suchyna for Meet the Dean, she had showed me through thankfulness and forgiveness, God can live within you. Just pray to God and offer it up. So always have compassion thankfulness and compassion in your hearts. Thank you again for giving a second home, Chesterton Academy, and renewing God in me. I will always consider myself a Chesterton girl and only a Chesterton girl. Thank you and may God bless you today and always.