The speeches that didn’t make it, Part III
by Aaron Zelinger and Alex Carter
Published June 5, 2012
The Paly Voice acquired the following speech from the author, with the author’s consent to publish. The author wrote the speech with the intention of giving it at graduation, 2012, but was not selected. Each speech in this series underwent a judging process in which the author performed in front of five teachers, Tuesday, after school. The teachers were as follows: Matt Hall, Erin Angell, Julia Taylor, Grant Blackburn a nd Arnie Lim. The views in this speech do not necessarily reflect the views ofThe Paly Voice,nor those of its staff.
by Aaron Zelinger
Apparently, The Mayans have predicted that this year, the Earth will align with the center of the galaxy, resulting in an end to human life as we know it … which turns out to be better than their other prediction, that Kim Kardashian would beat Obama for the presidency and appoint Kanye West as her Secretary of the Interior.
but now that that’s off my chest
Distinguished guests, undistinguished guests, friends, family, teachers, enemies and campus security,
Did you know that Palo Alto High School doesn’t rank its students?
Other high schools will rank their students using GPAs or some other sort of complicated, mathematical combination of test scores and grades, declaring one student to be ranked first, another second. A student who, God help him, got an A- in honors chemistry sophomore year: 3rd, and so on and so forth.
But no, Paly does not rank its students.
It’s kind of fitting, because when we think about our friends and peers, standing beside me, I know there is no way to rank, or even begin to quantitatively compare them against each other in a meaningful way — other than, of course, by speaking ability, general handsomeness and height.
How can one put a number on a student who runs a sub 6 minute mile with ease, fast by my standards, but who can also create unique, beautiful artwork in Mr. Camner’s ceramics class that causes us all to pause, think, and eventually leaves us scrambling to pick up our jaws from the floor below.
How can somebody rank my friend who can stare down the meanest, dirtiest integral Mr. Toma can find, and break it apart as if it were a Justin Bieber CD, while she still finds the time and the ability to make any one of us laugh.
[[[ BRITISH ACCENT]]]
Beside me you will find thespians who can recite lines upon lines of Shakespeare, but who can also write a piece of journalism so clean, it makes Mr. Kandell smile.
Also, you will find those who can debate their way out of a paperbag, only to skillfully dance their way right back into that bag (Alex Carter) if they so decided.
How about the computer coders, who ride motorcycles, start businesses and design sleek, sexy websites that have made Mark Zuckerburg fearful, yet proud.
The entrepreneurs, philanthropists and other words too hard for me to pronounce that fill the seats beside me, who can also draw an incredibly accurate model of a humpback whale, if Mr. Olah so commanded.
These individuals are too diverse to put a number on their heads and too multitalented to be evaluated by a linear equation, and thus they shouldn’t be.
Although comparing Paly’s students against one another is a pointless task, is there someone here, now, who can stand before us and make the comparison that they have seen a more talented, intelligent, and generally more good looking graduating class than this one, right here? I didn’t think so. Even if such a person did exist, my experiences and my gut, would tell me that person is a LIAR.
Many of us have long been told we live inside this Silicon Valley bubble. some sort of metaphysical buffer most likely derived from helium, krypton and the sticky, liberal sweat of academics and college dropouts trying to just live the dream,
But in semiseriousness, there’s a reason this bubble hasn’t popped (knock on wood).
That reason is the quality of students and teachers, those here today, who let their interests develop into passions, their passions into projects, their projects into movements, and their movements, into history.
Luckily, these teachers have bestowed upon us the tools and training such that, if we are put into an unfamiliar situation in which we will be graded — and let there be no mistake, that situation will arise— we will succeed.
Anybody who’s taken Paly math knows exactly what I’m talking about.
How many times have you sat down for a test, looked at it, and thought you didn’t learn anything on it?
Now, sometimes, in that scenario, you’re done for because you were watching Game of thrones and playing COD the night before, or maybe you never did learn it as, i’m not going to name any names here, you were lounging on the quad during class (you know who you are).
But sometimes, in fact usually, after a deep breath and a couple of expletives, you are able to use the tools your teacher has given you to piece together a solution.
If high school has taught me anything, it’s that I know almost nothing. But we have had the good fortune of teachers, friends, and family who have provided us with an analytical framework we need to not only arrive, but to thrive.
In other words, we are men and women who have been taught to fish, not given one.
In my opinion, There is no way to put a number on an education like that.
So, my friends, family, those of you I have not yet met but do indeed look forward to meeting, and of course, the CLASS OF 2012,
Please rest assured: No matter what the Mayans, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian or anybody else for that matter, may say about 2012, with you at the front of it, leading the way, the world is in able hands. Thank you.
Editor’s note: Aaron Zelinger, the author of this speech, is currently a staff writer for The Paly Voice. To avoid a conflict of interest, he was not involved in the editing process of this article.
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