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Laughter

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Ariana was the elected student speaker of the senior class of 2012 at The Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City. This is the speech she gave to her peers and the school community on her graduation day.

Thank you Ms. Hutcheson, Mr. Burke, Ms. Köprülü, and Ms. Huffington and welcome faculty, staff, parents, family and fellow students.

The class of 2012 can be described as many things: loud, enthusiastic, funny, strong-willed... but I think what sets us apart and defines us is our ability to smile and laugh together and at each other. I am big a smile-er. I make a point to smile at least once a day, and when I'm not smiling, I'm laughing. My laugh is high-pitched and it carries, which can be really embarrassing. And, on top of that, I often find myself crying while I laugh, which makes it even harder to stop.

Some people's laughter is contagious, like Emily's. She giggles like a four-year-old and you can't help but giggle along with her. Francesca is the queen of silent, gut-wrenching laughter, mouth hanging open and full-on body shakes. Christina's guffaws are shallow and low and they come out of nowhere as those around her stare in absolute awe. Arame laughs slowly, Katie Murphy chuckles slyly, and Lydia has a slight donkey twang. It is a very rare day when you don't hear Aarati's laugh from all the way across the lunchroom or through the door of a classroom.

Lauren and Kira are often heard cheering demonically, a laughter that occurs after they chuck a large piece of wood at your head "for fun" from across the room. Millicent cackles as she tackles a screeching Katherine outside Ms. duNoy's office, and Sophie's bright titter follows close behind. Anna Model squawks loudly as Hannah turns red and becomes incomprehensible through her equally loud sobs. Kate Levien's whoops break through silence and Dani's light chortle eases an otherwise tense situation. Melissa snickers eagerly and Katie Lin can often be seen erupting in fits of adorable, uncontrollable giggles as she fidgets with the end of her ponytail. Kate Krauss wrinkles her face and beams from ear to ear as she rejoices with quick and excited hehe's, cheeks burning red. Sarah Mcgowan's delighted grin lights the room as a joke pulls her away from her New York Times crossword puzzle. Stephanie teehee's and haha's with elegance and poise, an art that we all have yet to master. Yvonne whoops, doubled over holding her stomach and Caroline flings her head back in delight, her laugh banging through the air. Caitlin's occasional snorts are often a catalyst for Lucy, who lets out one loud HA, snorts herself and then drools a little. Diana Chen sits on the floor giggling so much you can see every single one of her dimples and Issy laughs loudly in an Australian accent, obviously. Juliet's laugh is bold and powerful, as she bats her eyelashes and flashes her teeth, and Sarah Van der Elst giggles nervously turning bright red as she frantically covers her face with her long regal fingers.

Diana has her hair tied in a bun perched neatly on top of her head. She laughs lightly, raising her hands to her clavicle saying, "That's ahh-mazing." Anna Sinreich is writhing on the floor, throwing a hysterical fit screeching and sighing as tears stream down her face. Allie Wilson laughs harshly at her side. Jenny, a true artist, focused on her surroundings, laughs looking through her camera lens, her nostrils flaring ever so slightly, and Annabel who has previously been sitting quietly, breaks into an uncontrollable silent giggle, eyes shut tight, face full of mirth. Kathryn Daly and Liza howl dryly and Katie Harris chimes in with her toothy, paint-smeared smile. Finally, Ali Gale laughs soothingly, a soft chuckle and satisfied sigh and Morgan, who is not easily amused, allows an enthusiastic and authentic chortle to permeate her lips.

It has been scientifically proven that laughter is one of the best medicines, and I strongly believe that if you go into a situation with a positive attitude and a smile on your face, the chances of that situation going awry are pretty slim. It is also proven that if you smile at least once a day, not only do you look younger, but you look prettier -- because I know the thought running through your heads as we all walked in was "How is it that every single one of them is stunning?" Well, now you know.

So, I want you to think about the last time you smiled. Who were you with? What about the last time you laughed? A full-bellied laugh, one that made you cry or even stop breathing, momentarily of course. Who were you with? Do you have it? I do. I was with members of the class of 2012, at field day, Rye Playland, Vermont, or even just in the lounge. I was with the 40 girls who planned Nightingale Prom, who set the tone, the vibrant and exciting tone, for the upper school all year. Each of these girls sitting before you is brilliant and charismatic individually, but together our class is indestructible, unbelievable and unbeatable, and it all comes from our ability to make each other smile and laugh every day. It is these 40 girls that make every day a little more interesting and a little bit brighter.

A smile can mean anything -- excitement, gratitude, forgiveness and fear, and just because this chapter of our lives is ending does not mean the new one will not bring just as many smiles. To our parents, teachers, family, and friends, thank you for making us smile, and remember that just because we are leaving doesn't mean you can't smile while we are gone. And to the class of 2012, as we step into our new lives make sure to carry your laughter with you wherever you go. Thank you.