40 Years Later: Letter from an Alum
In loving memory of Ben Byers, BSM Class of ’78 Graduate (1959-2017)
"Warm greetings to all of you, my esteemed BSM classmates and cherished friends,
It is with immense regret that I am unable to be sitting there with and among you this fine evening. It is my hope that there is a rarified air that permeates this gathering, because there is a feeling of pride and a spirit of pioneering that makes our Class of 1978 an exclusive club -- not in an elitist way, but in the sense that we wear the mantle of originals and benefactors. I will explain.
When the powers that came together once upon a time decided to merge the high schools of Benilde and St. Margaret, most likely out of a financial imperative, little did they know what an exceptional and solid tradition of education they would produce. My guess is that there were any number of nay-sayers present, folks who scoffed and doubted that the merger was possible, not to mention sustainable. The problem with the-glass-is-half-empty mentality is that it fails to account for people who thirst for more than status quo. Now you and I may not have been sufficiently intuitive to realize this 30 years ago when we embarked on one of our biggest adventures thus far, but we set a standard for what a high school can do, and what it can become if people are willing to work hard and stay involved long enough to see it through.
This is what I think of when I recount my 4 years of education and socialization with all of you. I worked nowhere near as hard as many of you, nor as hard as I could (or should) have, but nevertheless I persevered and came out a winner. I have the BSM administration and student faculty to thank for much of that, but I would be remiss not to declare my deep and abiding gratitude to you, my fellow classmates. I have said it before, and it bears repeating: in more ways than you can possibly fathom -- YOU ACCEPTED ME! Someone with obvious physical differences and limitations -- in a way that I had never known throughout my very difficult grade school years. Whether you believe it or not, it is my testimony that you gave me exactly what I needed just when I needed it most. Perhaps some of it was acceptance by default. All I know is that I never once felt rejected, and that provided me with the impetus to soar in the years to come.
I tip my hat to all of you who are gathered here this evening, and to those of our class of 1978 who are unable to attend, or who are no longer with us on this Earth. This is my toast to you. May each of your days gleam brightly, not from bangles or baubles or other temporal possessions, but rather because of the preciousness of family and friends who give great meaning and rich hope to your life.
May God bless every one of you.
P.S. GO RED KNIGHTS!"