Be Gentle To Yourself And To Others: A Transcript Of Ava LeJeune’s Chapel Talk 


James 4:14

“The verse for today is James Chapter 4 Verse 14: ‘Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.’

“I started Ascension in eighth grade and every year since I’ve been here, there has been a senior that has stood up and given a chapel talk with basically the same message. That is: ‘Do not take for granted the days you have in high school, especially at Ascension, because they will fly by and before you know it you will be graduating and off on your own.’ And every year I thought to myself, that will never be me, I might never get there, who knows if I will even make it to the end of the week let alone to the end of my high school career.  And I am sure many of you are thinking the same thing as I’m up here speaking to you right now, but here I am a senior looking back on my days at Ascension and hoping I made the most of my time here.

“As an eighth-grader, starting at Ascension, I was worried about every little thing, and looking back now I wish I wouldn’t have stressed about the silly things like the upperclassmen thinking I looked weird while walking to receive Eucharist or if the pimple I  had on my face was too big or if I was having a bad hair day. One thing, I can promise you is that people will not remember the way your ponytail was knotted or if your face was breaking out, but people will remember a friendly face in your first-hour English class or the funny memory that you and your new friends had a break.  So, to the eighth graders take one of Ascension’s core values to heart today and be gentle to yourself and to others. I know it may not be easy, but be confident and be yourself because it will help you make the most out of your time here and you have more of it than anyone else.  

“During my second year at Ascension, friend groups were forming and not everyone was included. It even happened to me and it was anxiety-inducing every time I’d walk into school. For the first time, freshmen are able to go to homecoming, it was exciting, but also scary. Questions floating around Mr. Kennedy’s Freshman West Civ class and Coach Whitt’s Physical Science class were ‘Who would ask me? Who would I ask? What would I wear? What are the before plans? What are the after plans? Would I even be invited at all?’ These are normal questions that come with your first real high school dance, but whether you are going to the dance with a group of friends or with your lifelong crush–enjoy it you only get four of these. So, to the ninth graders the core value I challenge you to be is generous. Generous with your time, with your invites, and when including people, especially those who are sometimes forgotten.

“Now, Sophomore year, the year that everyone starts getting their license and the sophomore/ junior parking lot in the mornings is the place to be. It’s much easier to get from place to place, but this new freedom opens up way more chances to mess up. Everyone is waiting for the next birthday or sweet 16 party and it’s so exciting, you either have this amazing freedom or you don’t have the freedom yet because your birthday isn’t until May. And if that’s you, enjoy every car ride to and from school with your parents. The extra study time was always nice. For those who do have your licenses, I challenge you to be truthful. Trust me, I know it’s easier to fib about why you were 10 minutes late to your 11 O’clock curfew than, to tell the truth. Moms and dads know you better than you think and can read right through you, or at least my mom is a master at it. You know what they say, honesty is the best policy, so live by it every day. 

“Now, we are getting to the Juniors, class of 2023. You guys have less time than some, but more time than others. You guys have become upperclassmen this year and it’s the kind of the coolest feeling, but classes are getting harder, there are more younger kids than older kids walking the halls, and you have way more responsibility than you have ever had before. You have a responsibility to be leaders to all of the underclassmen looking up to you, a responsibility to make good grades because there is the terrifying topic of college approaching, but you also have a responsibility to enjoy what you have left of your high school career, so try something that you have never done before. During my junior year, I decided that it was a good idea to play soccer, and I quickly learned that it wasn’t for me, but I did it knowing I only had a year and a half left to do something way out of my comfort zone in a place as safe as Ascension. So, to the juniors, kindness is the core value that I have given to y’all and challenge you to live by. Be kind to the underclassmen, especially next year when y’all are leaders of the school, be kind to yourself because junior year is tough, and make the most out of the time you have left. 

“What all of that was getting to is that whatever struggle you are facing or milestone you are about to reach, high school goes by in the blink of an eye. So, finally my class, the class of 2022. Whether you have been here since pre-k four or started freshman year, we have been taught the 5 core values of being a blue gator, Gentle, Generous, Truthful, Kind, and Brave. As we apply for colleges or prepare for whatever else might be our dream, parents, teachers, and administrators are asking us to be the biggest kind of brave. Put yourself on paper and send it to your dream school, whether that be LSU, TCU, Alabama, or Harvard. We are constantly told that the number we got back from ACT or SAT will define whether we get to where we want to be in life, but I know each and every one of you and I know that if you are brave and give it your all, wherever you end up, you will succeed. Guys, we have 229 days left as Blue Gators, until we walk on that stage and get handed a diploma.  As we head into our ‘last,’ our last homecoming week, our last homecoming dance, and our last football games, volleyball games, swim or track meets, theatre performances, or whatever else might be your last. Know that I know it might be scary, but I challenge you to be brave and jump two feet into your next stage of life, wherever that might be. 

“And to finish it all up, I cannot say that I have been gentle, generous, truthful, kind, and brave every day for all 5 years that I have been here, But  I do challenge you and myself to live these 5 goals as best as we can every day from now on, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter how much time left. Take it from me, time flies when you are a Blue Gator so don’t miss it. Thank you.”