The Paly Voice acquired the following speeches from their authors, with their authors’ consent to publish. The authors wrote the speeches with the intention of delivering them at graduation, but were not selected. Each speech went through an evaluation process on May 19 by a panel of staff members. The views stated in these speeches do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice, nor those of its staff.
by Jack Hansen
Good afternoon, everybody! I would like to start by saying thank you to everybody here. For all of you who made sacrifices so that we graduates could be here today, on behalf of the entire class of 2014, we really appreciate it. Thank you for being here today, and thank you for being there for us the past four years. I say this because for many of us up here today, High School was hard, harder than we expected before we arrived here and sometimes harder than we understood in the midst of the experience. It’s true: it was the hardest thing we have gone through in our lives so far. Now, for those of you who are thinking right now, “if he thinks that High School was hard, he has another thing coming,” let me explain first. Four short years ago, we had no real idea how High School would challenge us to grow. Many of the things that you hear in Middle School about High School turn out to be true. It is just the way that High School works. “There is going to be way more drama than what you are used to.” Yep. “Reputations will stick with you.” Absolutely. “You’re going to lose some of your best friends.” I didn’t think that would be true, but it was. Not to mention that on top of it all, our school work was always getting in the way. Now, just a quick heads up, for those of you who have seen the new Spiderman movie, this next part is inspired by the graduation speech that is given in that. It’s ok though because Emma Stone is awesome and gave a great graduation speech herself. I’m not plagiarizing, consider this an homage. It is extremely easy for all of us up here to feel like we have made it right now, that we have conquered this beast that we call High School. Especially on such a beautiful day in such a beautiful place, it is easy to think that this is it– that from here on out it’s all smooth sailing. Not to be a buzzkill, but that is not the case. There are going to be much more difficult times in our lives. We are going to feel alone. There will be challenges far harder than anything we have experienced so far. High School was not the worst, hardest, or longest 4 years of our lives. In fact, I know without a doubt that there are going to be many more difficult things that we all will go through in our lives. I think that everybody sitting up here with me, as well as every high school graduate in the audience, can agree with me that there are struggles that we all go through in high school. Some people may have had an easier time than others, myself probably being one of them, but we all have this shared experience of going through it together. At Paly. And for many of us, these were the first real challenges in our lives, which is what made them seem so hard. Very few, if any, of us up here have experienced the trials of real life to the extent that we probably all will at some point in our lives. Of course there will be differences in our lives, and while some of us may get lucky and become successful, some of us are going to strike out and have actual, real world struggles. But after graduating from this great school, and after having all the character-building experiences that our time here has provided, each of us has the foundation to accomplish great things. What I am saying right now, as I said before, is thank you. Thank you Palo Alto High School for everything that you have given me and my classmates. Thank you moms and dads that support us all at home. Thank you teachers for making every day engaging and interesting and showing us what we are capable of. Thank you to everybody up here behind me for going through it all with me. I don’t know whether or not I would have been able to do it without all of you, but I know for a fact that you guys made it so much more worthwhile. Because aside from an excellent education and plenty of memorable experiences, there are several things that my peers and I will take with us from Paly that will help us get through the trials of the future. In my opinion, the most important of these things is that we have learned to be hopeful about the future. For the first time in my life, I truly understand what the phrase “upwardly mobile” means, it means that we have the possibility to improve our station in life, and that is thanks to the great opportunities and advantages that have been presented to us in our youth. There is no way for us or anybody around us to know exactly what the future will bring. But going to Paly has given us all the ability to be hopeful, and because of that I know that we all look forward to the future trials coming our way and are excited to embrace them, because we know that we will be ok. That is the greatest gift that we ever could have received and we all owe it to Palo Alto High School. We are able to understand that life is going to be hard, harder than it ever has been before, and we are able to be ok with that. Our time at Paly has taught us that we can work our way through any challenge and end up better people because of it. Thank you Palo Alto High School for preparing me and my peers for everything that is yet to come. You have given us no reason to fear the future, and in fact, you have given us every reason to look forward to it!
Click here to find: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII.