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Groton, MA -- McKenzie Melvin '17 used her senior talk time at an all-school assembly on Feb. 10 to offer up plenty of thank yous to those who helped make her four years at Lawrence Academy memorable. She listed off a number of faculty and staff members, expressing gratitude for everything from the opportunity to relieve some stress over college applications to pep talks "when I wanted them and also when I didn't" to spotting her some cash at Dunkin' Donuts one morning. But she had some faculty members' furry friends to thank as well.
"If you're ever having a bad day, seriously, ask a faculty member with a dog if you can take it for a walk or something," McKenzie advised her peers. "I've never been turned down, and it's a great stress relief."
Although many underclassmen only know McKenzie as McKenzie, she spent much of her time at LA known as "Baby Melvin," the younger sister to Connor ('15) and Katherine ('13), and was living in her siblings' shadows. Her brother had a great academic reputation, while her sister was a three-sport varsity athlete. However, McKenzie said, "I'm no academic weapon ... and the closest I've gotten to a varsity sport is doing the film for girls' varsity basketball."
"And that's fine," McKenzie added. "I'm my own person," and despite "a few setbacks" -- broken bones and friendships, some bad grades -- "I'm standing here today, and I'm alive."
"Take it from someone who's been through almost all of it when I say, you'll be fine," McKenzie said. "Take a moment to breathe sometimes."
As McKenzie pointed out, "LA is so different from other schools ... I trust my advisor more than anyone I know, and the teachers here know you on a different level than anyone else" -- and that goes for staff members, too, even if those relationships don't necessarily start off on a friendly foot, so to speak.
Before concluding her talk, McKenzie offered up one final thank you, to late school nurse Sue McKenna.
"I think I'm the only one on campus and in the world that didn't like her when I first met her," McKenzie admitted, recalling her freshman year Mountain Day, when she had a concussion and McKenna kept checking in on her: "She was just so freakin' nice, it was borderline annoying," McKenzie remembered, with a soft, knowing smile and a chuckle. "I was so not in the mood for a cheerful British woman.
"Sitting at her funeral ... seeing the impact that she had on [my brother and sister] and everyone in the room, I realized how truly loved she was and how kind and pure her soul was," McKenzie continued.
In McKenna's honor, McKenzie urged her peers to simply "be nice to people."
"I know it sounds stupid, but seriously, it doesn't take much to make someone else's day with just a simple smile and a hello," McKenzie concluded. "I would give anything to hear 'Hello, love' just one more time."