Inspirational speaker returns with passionate message to senior class

Jonathan Chen and Benjamin Grimes

Inspirational speaker Timothy Alexander gives his second talk at Palo Alto High School to seniors during PRIME on Friday in the Performing Arts Center. According to Alexander, he hopes his message will drive students to realize their goals. “I’m challenging you all to not just dream your dream, I’m challenging you all to finish your dream,” Alexander said. “To truly work on being the best version of yourself and to truly try every single day.” (Photo: Jonathan Chen)

Returning after three months, inspirational speaker Timothy Alexander is urging Palo Alto High School students to live out their full potential following a speech to seniors Friday in the Performing Arts Center.

Alexander said he hoped to expand on his Aug. 11 first talk to remind students to take advantage of opportunities offered at Paly. 

“This time, it was not just getting to know who I am,” Alexander told The Paly Voice after the presentation. “It was reminding and inspiring, inspiring you by who I am to challenge you to be the best version of yourself.”

Coming to the same school twice isn’t typical for most speakers, according to Alexander.

“When you speak at a school one time, you may not come back for about two years, but I came back in three months,” Alexander said.

According to Alexander, he has never considered himself to be a motivational speaker. 

“Motivation can show up on a Friday morning, and leave you on a Friday afternoon,” Alexander said. “And so I never want to be labeled as a motivational speaker. I’m an inspirational speaker. Why? Because inspiration always drives performance.” 

The event opened with an introduction from Principal Brent Kline, who wanted to thank the student body for improving its behavior following the Paly-Gunn football game

“I’m thankful for you for rising up to a challenge that was provided to us after a certain football game and [for] the ability that was given to us to correct ourselves, to change and to recalibrate,” Kline said.

According to Kline, seniors should understand that every student has the ability to take control of their own life. 

“Take away your own uniqueness that you have,” Kline said. “It’s not always looking outward to find your hope or your value in life, you have that inside. That’s what I keep hearing [from Alexander].”  

Senior Miya Whiteley said Alexander’s speech was helpful for Paly seniors. 

“It seemed like people [students] were appreciating him for being here and sharing his story again, and giving us advice as graduating seniors going forward to the rest of our lives.” Whiteley said.

Alexander and Kline visit a Beginning Journalism class for a press conference during sixth period Friday in the Media Arts Center. According to Kline, Alexander has been providing guidance throughout the year. “Our relationship started prior to him being here the first time. It was only fitting that I kept talking to him,” Kline said. “He’s a wise man.” (Photo: Rahul Shetty)

Senior Max Schrage echoed that events like this were beneficial for students.

“It’s a great use of time,” Schrage said. “The difference between this or just a normal period is drastic. It has a great effect on my life and I think it changes a lot of other students’ lives as well.”

Closing his speech, Alexander said he wanted students to continue pursuing their goals, despite any hurdles that come along the way.

“​​I’m challenging you all today to don’t give up on your dreams, regardless of your dreams, regardless of what you’re faced with, regardless of what you open up against,” Alexander said.

According to Kline, this event was a way of saying thank you to Paly. 

“This truly was my way to say thank you, and it just ended up that TA had great timing because him and I have been talking quite a bit in the last three, four months, so it was fitting,” Kline said.

In a press conference to a Beginning Journalism class earlier on Friday morning, Alexander announced that a film, produced by the makers of the movie, “The Blind Side,” is in the process of being made and will be released in 2024-25.

Additional reporting for this story provided by Divya Gandhi and Chloe Amos.