By Sloane Walsh ’25
Early in October, activist, writer, and adventurer Ken Ilgunas came to campus to tell students and faculty about his journey across America. He walked along the 2,687-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline to bring awareness to the harmful effects of oil pipelines on the environment. Mr. Ilgunas shared stories about the animals he saw (or got chased by) and how his appreciation for his country grew as he saw the beauty of his natural surroundings.
To get an idea of what speakers do for our community, I reached out to Mr. Fladager about Mr. Ilgunas’ presentation since he had initially invited Mr. Ilgunas to campus. I wanted to hear about the benefits of having speakers come to campus and what it meant to Mr. Fladager to have Mr. Ilgunas on campus.
When I talked to Mr. Fladager, he said that Mr. Ilgunas reached out to the school because he comes around the United States to speak at schools. He had emailed Mrs. Fisher, who then forwarded the email to Mr. Fladager. Before Mr. Ilgunas came to talk, Mr. Fladager wanted to learn more about him, so he read some of Mr. Ilgunas’ books, starting with Walden on Wheels. “I was actually trying to find a reason not to invite him on campus. But I was struck by his focus not just on how to live an adventurous life, but also how to live an ethical one. How to feel good about yourself and your impact on the world.” Mr. Fladager thought Mr. Ilgunas would be a great speaker for the school, especially as the outdoor program grows.
“I wanted to bring a speaker to campus who could energize the crowd and present you all with other options for your lives after school, and he seemed to fit the bill. Being an adventurer/writer/dreamer, and making a good living doing it, is probably not something that many of you think of as a viable career option. But there are 10,000 ways of living out there that we don’t even know until someone shows them to us.”
In a private preparatory school, many students don’t know what they want to do with their lives after high school. Speakers that come to the school show us options and inspiration for what we can do after school. Last year, students heard from Olympians, veterans, and adventurers. Even if the speaker on campus doesn’t give the most eye-catching story, try to consider what they’re saying. These speakers could give you more inspiration than you think.