The speeches that didn’t make it, Part I

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 four teachers on Tuesday after school. The teachers were as follows: Matt Hall, Erin Angell, Julia Taylor and Arnie Lim. The views in this speech do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice, nor those of its staff.

Graduation Speech

by a Paly Class of 2012 alumna

Fellow parents, students and teachers, today I would like to begin with a question.

It is an ordinary question 4 words, 14 characters, 3657 students, 5000 staff, an infinity of answers and yet, at the base there is only 1 truth.

My question is this: What is a Viking? Is it a culture, a mascot, Jeremy Lin. Is it yellow? Green? White? Is it a dreamer, a realist or a rationalist? Is it you? Is it me? Is it nothing? Or is it all?

“Shoot for the moon and you will land somewhere among the stars.” That is the quote inscribed on one of the doors on this campus. Ladies and gentlemen, we are the class of 2012, a year marked by the end of the world itself. Therefore it is as Vikings say: go big or go home.

But before I begin talking about the fate of man and history and our class … I would like to talk to you about three distinct stories whose questions or rather approaches to answers define all.

They may at first seem insignificant, but it is in the end they who will shape our world for they do not only represent each and every one of us but they are: all of us.

I would like to talk to you about a girl who sits in class drawing, wondering, whether it is indeed the end of history, the boy who sees the world as neither bad nor good, instead, complex and the woman or man whose duty is repetition, but who instead — sets the precedent for change: I am, of course, talking about the romantics who wonder, the realists who see, and the rationalists who do. For they are the ones shape our bubble of history and lead us through progress toward its gradual end. And by end I do not mean an impending doom which will destroy us, rather an end of old history of hate and fear, and instead a new history of oh so cliche but immovable fate of not only knowledge, but also the gift… and curse… Of understanding.

That girl who draws during class gets the C; may at times look upon the stars, gaze at the wonder of the universe and feel like she is getting lost in the endless circulation of the world. For she realizes that even though the natural law of the universe may forever be in play, each one of us weighs an extra pound on that universe, and so changes its quality forever.

That boy who looks upon the school and sees a mixture of race, gender, sexual orientation and creed sees that for each of those people life and school are a battle, which they did not choose to fight and yet must continue to fight for it is one that which will ultimately change them and bring them a step closer to themselves,

And finally: To that woman or man who has no duty to bring change, no goal to inspire, but yet unknowingly or in some cases gloatingly brings inspiration every day. They are our artists, our debaters, our athletes and our teachers: however, most importantly they are the true believers, for they do not believe in education for the sake of education, progress for the sake of progress. Instead they believe in knowledge not only as a belief but as a means of growth and a means of peace.

Do you see yourself as any of those three, do you face your own history, do you believe in good? What is your identity? Are you the dreamer? The realist? Or do foil classification?

Do you not only face history but change history, make history? The truth is that you, we, do all of this. We start with a question, then that question grows until it becomes our dream, which then becomes our thoughts which becomes our words, actions, history… which in the end becomes: our destiny.

This is why no matter the hurtle, the stage, the class — we not only live life but also make life worth living.

We are the Vikings, for when presented with a complex challenge we dream of a solution, we analyze the problem and then we give em hell.

And once that happens we do not stop for we are not only Vikings, whether assigned or be-fated we are the class of 2012 and we refuse to live in history. Instead we shall face history, end history and make history — so that we are not defined by it; but it, is defined by us.

Thank You