The speeches that didn't make it, Class of 2013: Part I

Allison Cowie, Author

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 21 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.

Full Speed Ahead

by Robert Lee

Hello everyone. Welcome to the last official day of high school.

How can we summarize these last four years? If every one of us were to think about them and what they mean to us, more likely than not, our minds would flash from moment to moment. High school has provided us with amazing memories: the pride of winning a championship, the gratification of acing a test, or just the comfort of being with friends on a sunny day without a care in the world. On the other hand, like many other things in life, high school is a double edged sword: we feel the pain of not making a team, the disappointment of being sick during Spirit Week, or the wistfulness of not being able to take part in some of the more infamous Paly traditions.

As such, when thinking back on our experience, it’s hard to focus on and select one defining moment or event that changed us. For me personally, I am reminded not only of the War of 1812 or of SOHCAHTOA, but also of Mr. Bungarden emphasizing the “yeah, but,” Mr. Friedland cajoling me to do better with a lighthearted “Weak sauce!,” Mr. Vericat philosophically wondering “how can you control your life when you can’t control your body?” when a student asks to use the restroom, and of Ms. Sylvestri having more youthful energy than any student. Furthermore, I also remember basking in the gift-from-god lawn chairs, cursing the noisy unceasing construction, or accidentally walking into a pole while checking Infinite Campus. I’m confident, nay, I’m sure, that everyone has memories similar to these. And so, we discover that high school is just one long story punctuated and defined by many small events. And although each of our individual lives is different, our story at Palo Alto High School has the same core, for we share the same home. This, the combined experience of all, is the shared story of the Class of 2013.

This story is filled with such mirth, embarrassment, merriment, anger, delight, toil, sleep deprivation, Town and Country food, and above all, laughter, that we wonder how we will be able to reconcile a completely new life with the old one. But we must always remember that high school is just one chapter in a long book, one step in a winding, trying, and fulfilling life. We have grown, thanks to these few years: we have become incisive thinkers, incomparable athletes, and mature adults. And as we move forward, we are sure of our legacy: we shall fix the problems of our forefathers; but not only do we fill the holes dug by the past, on top of their shortcomings we build a foundation for future success. That is our destiny.

As we take the next step, as we look ahead to bright horizons, we must allow ourselves to be anchored, lest we be swept away by the great, intimidating world around us. Paly is this shared, grounding, history. Our friends, our story, our school, are what we have in common. No matter whether you are white, black, yellow, brown, red, blue, green, or purple, no matter whether you are a jock or a geek, do football or theater, band or debate, we all come from Palo Alto, a bond that nothing, neither time nor distance, can break. We must never forget that, for camaraderie and solidarity, complementing our strengths and correcting our weaknesses, will pull us through our darkest defeats and sweeten our greatest victories.

Therefore, with our one Palo Alto High School story echoing in our heads, we, together forever and always, shout the words of Admiral David Farragut, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Click here to find Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI and Part VII.