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

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.

Graduation Speech

by Sophie Parker

As it’s been said before, it seems not too long ago,
all of us were freshmen, screaming “2013” for the first time.
Now we scream “2013” for the last time.
A lot of us will move on to college screaming “2017.”
Some will move on to enter the workforce, screaming for a raise.
Others will go on a year’s break, screaming at their parents.

Whichever way you may go, a lot of us, if not all of us, will stop screaming and start thinking about what our Paly experience has meant to us.

After all we’ve been through together these past four years, we each come out with a different perspective about what high school has taught us.

But after some soul searching and asking around, I think we can set aside whatever differences we might have and agree on the following:

1. The best variety of food can be found at Town and Country
2. Some teachers use alternative methods to get their point across.
3. When a teacher says your essay only needs to be as long as you think it should be, they’re not telling you the whole truth.

Yes, I am claiming that these are the 3 most valuable lessons I’ve learned from an extensive 720 days at Palo Alto High School. So, I know you don’t believe me right now, but someday these three things will all come in handy. I’ll begin with the food. The fact that the best variety of food isn’t in the nearby student center, but is at town and county is very important.

In my freshmen year I would sometimes go to the student center to get a hamburger. (I don’t know how I could conceivably eat this… radioactive waste as it was.) But I did it anyways because I was a naïve little freshman. I should have listened to Ghandi. He once said “there is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” Indeed, if I had slowed down and thought for a second, I probably would have realized how many more choices I could have if I only crossed Embarcadero.

The fact of life is this: sometimes taking an easy shortcut can limit your options. However, Town and Country is there to remind us that it takes hard work to get what you want- and by hard work I mean, walking all the way across the street, to get that tasty mayfields pulled chicken sandwich or the five dollar pizza slice and soda from Howie’s.

Second, I’d like to take this opportunity to impart some of the wisdom Mr. Bocksnick shared with me. Regardless of whether you had him as your teacher or not, let me tell you about how Mr. Bocksnick taught our 5th period math class, and at least me, a lesson about humor.

One day, when we had a few minutes to spare at the end of class, Mr. Bocksnick shared a story about a day his family went to the Santa Monica beach boardwalk. While walking to one of the rides, his wife came running over saying, “Our son just met Jessica Alba!!!!” which apparently is every guys biggest dream. His son had an immense smile on his face for the rest of the day, and so did we after leaving math class.

It was funny to hear his son’s reaction to meeting actress Jessica Alba. But what was hilarious was that Mr. Bocksnick told this quirky story as a way of concluding class. Did that Jessica Alba story teach us anything profound about math? No. But Mr. Bocksnick used humor to capture our attention. Now you may think, “humor” and “math?” If you put those two words together you get more of an oxymoron than “homework-free break” But the fact is he did put those words together, and in doing so made an otherwise, in my opinion, boring subject into something I looked forward to every day.

And, speaking of humor, here’s something I always found funny:
Remember in English class, when the teacher said “write your essay only as long as you need in order to make your point.”
And did anyone ever see if they could actually write 2 sentences or a paragraph and a half and get full credit for the essay? Well the fact was, if you tried, you’d probably get the paper back and have to write it again…even if you successfully made your point.

I used to wonder why teachers would make such a misleading statement.
But, over time, I’ve found the wisdom behind what they say. Things that sound easy are not always as easy as they seem. And maybe these teachers could have said that at the outset, but it almost goes without saying that, we’re generally more convinced by the facts we discover on our own, than those given to us by others.

So, after four years, here are the facts we’ve discovered on our own….
It can take 3 pages to write a good essay.
It can take a story about the famous Jessica Alba to get the attention of a math class.
And it can take a long walk across embarcadero to get away from a scary hamburger.

And what are the life lessons I am leaving you with? Well here goes….
1. Take the time to find the best food in life, and enjoy the scenery along the way.
2. Sometimes the most mundane ideas are communicated best through humor.
3. Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.
4. Even the little lessons we learn in high school mean a whole lot.

In conclusion, wherever you end up whether it be school, the military, the work force, or living at home, don’t forget to carry Paly lessons with you as you embark on the next stage of life.

Thank you, and congratulations class of 2013.

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