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This isn’t the most conventional graduation speech ever, but it’s something I wanted to offer. First, there are a few people I would like to recognize and offer gratitude toward.
Thank you, Principal Steiner, Vice Principals Loza, Tapia, McNab and Aviv for helping to create a place where students can feel welcomed and heard. Thank you, Dean Godsey for keeping us safe and in check while on campus.
Thank you to all of the teachers I’ve had through the years on my schedule, as a club sponsor, or simply as a friendly face. An additional thank you to our foreign language teachers. If you’re anything like me and you want to travel, knowing the culture and language of the country would be a big help. My foreign language course, though challenging, gave me some of the best memories and friendships that I will cherish long after high school.
Congratulations Seniors! We made it to the end of high school, even though that end looks different than we expected. These are unprecedented times and with that comes change. Change can be scary, and we are going through a lot of it, with the ending of our school year being online and having just a few months before we take our first steps into adulthood. Just before we do that, let’s appreciate this past year. We hit our first bump in the road with Homecoming due to the fires. Our final hallway looked amazing and I couldn’t be more proud. You showed the school what spirit looks like by showing up all red out that Friday and then AGAIN that following Monday! This continued with the events that followed: Karaoke, Movie Night, and school functions like Blood Drives. Your perseverance is inspiring. That is just one quality I’m taking with me in this next chapter of life. We are beginning to create the stepping stone path to the person we want to become. Allow me to share a passage I wrote to my younger self: “They say the choices we make today set up our future. I didn’t always know if that was true. I mean not everything we do today has to follow us, does it? Well, now I know that the choices that are important to us will shape us. Not whether to put ham or turkey on a sandwich. Rather to spend the extra five minutes talking to your mom even though you could fall asleep at any moment. Those five minutes could give you lasting memories, engrain precious advice, or simply five minutes of nurturing a relationship with your parents.” The next steps we take should be bold. Being bold can also look like vulnerability. It asks a lot of us to step out of our comfort zones and take risks. Take a chance on that class that may not match your major but sounds too fun to pass on. Go see your favorite band play that ‘One Night Only’ show, even though it’s on a school night. It’s important to keep a childlike spirit during this time. The kid in us reminds us to breathe and to not live in fear. We are only beginning this journey in life. You get one chance to make it something you’re proud of. Being a part of the leadership at Taft has shown me so many things about myself. I have pushed myself to speak publicly, talk to strangers on almost a daily basis, enforce rules even if the ones breaking them are my friends, and being a part of an event that someone will remember for many moons to come has been something that I love. I may not remember all of the details of the event, but I will remember, and I am sorry to say this, “the vibes.” The way to make a lasting impression is to apply The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It’s easy to follow when you see something as simple as a “bless you” to a stranger can make them grin from ear to ear. I urge you to take these next steps with confidence. You are capable of anything you set your mind to and with a little bit of help from family and friends, more than you can imagine. These last four years were just the warm-up. Now, it’s time to take what we’ve learned in class, on the court, in the courtyard, and in conversations along the way and put it to the test. It has been amazing getting to grow here with you all. Thank you.