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 by a panel of faculty members. The views stated in these speeches do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice, nor those of its staff.
Graduation Speech by Oliver Rowles
Good afternoon everyone, teachers, families, and classmates. I arrived in Palo Alto less than two years ago, moving from New York City, and the place itself has already impacted me way more than I could have ever imagined. I had never had an Asian friend before.(pause) and now some are my best friends. I was welcomed very warmly into the Paly community only a few weeks into school, when half of the Junior and Senior grades came over to my house while my parents were out of town… Sorry Dad. But it was well worth it as I met the people who would become my best friends for the remainder of high school. Paly has recently received a ton of criticism and bad press after the tragedies that occurred over the past year, but we cannot forget what a great place this actually is. Over these past two years I’ve definitely learned a thing or two to take with me after I graduate.
First of all, these 4 years of high school are not going to be the best 4 years of your life, I don’t even wish that upon my worst enemy. If getting on the wheel in Ceramics class is part of the best 4 years of your life there is something seriously wrong. That being said High School is a very unique time, and nothing will ever be like it. As you get older, you mature. You begin to feel less infallible, your desire to be independent is tempered by the reality of actually being independent and all the responsibility that comes with it. You will never have the mindset you had in High School again. I remember telling my parents that when I turned 18 that I would never listen to them again. I am 18 now and have been for nearly 6 months and I cannot even come close to imagining not having them in my life. Everyone going to college next year will come to that realization when you’re actually going to have to wash your own clothes and change your bed sheets more than once a semester. Paly has helped me become the independent person I am today and one that will surely survive without his parents perched on his shoulder for the rest of time.
I’m sure every student here has a teacher that pushed him or her to succeed and do their best throughout these 4 years. Personally, I don’t think I can single out just one and that’s something that’s extraordinary about this school. Everyone wants you to do well and get to the next level, and that isn’t just teachers, students want to help you too. We have a great community here and I’m going to miss it dearly next year.
Since my early days at Paly I’ve had the same group of friends by my side, and that is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Even though we fight and argue sometimes, mostly about whether to go to Driftwood or Chipotle during lunch, I couldn’t imagine finishing my high school career with any other guys. When my parents decided to move out west from New York I was devastated. Leaving a place where I have lived for sixteen and a half years just suddenly. I vividly remember bawling my eyes out in front of my mom the night before our flight out as I was convinced that nowhere besides New York would ever be home. But I am more than glad to say I was mistaken, and Palo Alto has definitely become a home to me.
I wanted to thank my mom, dad, and most of all my brother Will for helping me get to where I am today. My brother has taught me so much and has been my role model throughout my entire life. Even though you thought I was the golden child and that mom and dad liked me more than you, I have always been jealous of how much smarter and talented you are than me at pretty much everything, except for Madden, I could still whoop you any day. I also wanted to thank all my classmates and teachers for an amazing two years here and wish you all the best in the future. ROLL TIDE