GHS, CHS seniors bid farewell

Jennie Kim

Christopher High School

Class of 2018 Valedictorian Speech

Good afternoon to Christopher High School’s lovely staff, families, friends and, of course, my fellow class of 2018. First, please let me thank our guests who are joining us today, our families and friends who have supported us through every struggle, celebration and success. And thank you for allowing me the honor to speak before you on this very special day.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, we all walked onto this campus for the first time, some of us having heard snippets of rumors about this school from our older brothers and sisters, and some of us knowing nothing at all. But regardless of the things we did and didn’t know, all we could talk about, all we could dream about, was our graduation day. As tiny freshman, four years never seemed so long. The word “senioritis,” which we all loved to spout repeatedly, became stuck to our tongues. But now, we all sit here with a bittersweet feeling in our stomachs, prepared to walk onto stage and receive a ticket to the beginning of our adulthood.

There’s a quote on one of the walls in our gym from Steve Prefontaine that says “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” To many, this quote may be some ambiguous, clichéd saying, applied too often in inapplicable situations. But we are in an uncommonly profound moment where we truly are receiving a gift—that of opportunity. This next year will be filled with new experiences and unprecedented decisions we will have the privilege of making. I know that many of us are—or at the very least, I am—afraid of making a mistake, choosing the wrong path or being forced to face our own failures. And we would be crazy not to be. But this uncertainty is simply a chance for us to grasp that blank page we’ve been presented and fill it with our own story. My mother used to always say that if you’re trying your best, even if you don’t receive the result that you wanted, you won’t ever regret the process. So let’s pick up our pens and write with the vigor that Shakespeare must have had in his prime playwriting years. Let’s use the persistence and dedication we have within us to continue to push us to set new personal landmarks. The simple fact that we are all sitting here today is evidence of the success we’ve set ourselves up for. So receive this fleeting gift with open arms, and remember we all have potential within us, how we choose to use it will determine our futures.

Class of 2018, congratulations, enjoy the fruits of your accomplishments, and best of luck in your future endeavors. Thank you.


Garrett Ivan

Christopher High School

Class of 2018 Salutatorian Speech

Four years — 720 days and more than 5040 hours of challenging work, nights studying, mornings cramming, the daily grind—all of that to receive a piece of paper with our name in fancy handwriting. But what does that paper represent? This stage that we stand on is a declaration of all the hard work that we all have completed in order to graduate from high school. All of us sacrificed our time, sleep and, for some of us, Netflix binging, to pass that exam or finish the last part of a project. And for some, this sacrifice is not only in academics, but also in our athletic programs and in support of our community. And it has paid off. Since we first walked on this quad as young freshmen, I think we can all agree that we have progressed and matured because of our effort throughout these last four years.

And we—next to the Silicon Valley—get to see firsthand the impact of what achievements and progress can have on a society: inventions like self-driving cars, a rocket that propelled a Tesla into space, virtual reality, 3D printing. These crazy and impactful inventions have changed (or will change) the way we live. All these were created because someone had a desire and passion to improve the quality of life and redesign what we consider normal.

I’ve seen that same passion and hard work in this senior class. Students who are hungry to learn, to discover and to explore. We challenge and question. And this passion and the skills we’ve developed will jump-start the next generation of innovators (that’s us). We get to utilize the skills we have gained here. For artists, to craft and build.

For scientists and engineers, to test, calculate and learn. For teachers, to educate. For doctors, to save. For the military, to protect. And for leaders, to inspire others. All of us have gained skills that will enable us to be successful, no matter which direction we want to take—whether work, college or the military. We can become the next key contributors to our community.

Yet, this doesn’t mean we have all the answers, as most of us are still

discovering who we are and what we love. And these unknowns can shape our path

and direction in life. So in all of this, I would like to remind my senior classmates of one thing: Whatever experiences you’ve had or will have in your future, remember that you are always more than a grade, a job, a title or an experience. Grades, money and recognition will all come and go as time goes on. And whether you experience good times or challenging ones, just remember that you are amazing individuals, each with so much value, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Thank you teachers and faculty for your hard work. Thank you parents, family and friends for all your support. Congratulations, seniors, for your great achievement. Congratulations, graduating class of 2018.


Sloane Pace

Gilroy High School

Class of 2018 Valedictorian

Good evening Superintendent Flores, Board of Trustees, Dr. Sanchez, Gilroy High School staff members, Mustang friends and family members. And, of course, welcome Class of 2018. With these opening remarks, it feels as though it is another Thursday night at the District Office, standing at the podium telling the school board about all the amazing things the students at our school have accomplished. In many ways, that’s what tonight is, so there is a sense of comfort in familiarity. However, this is no ordinary Thursday; tonight is the start of the rest of our lives.

When I was in elementary school, I heard the word valedictorian for the first time, and upon learning its meaning, I knew it was a title I wanted. From that moment on, every second spent on a school campus was with the hopes of achieving this goal. It was motivation to keep up with all of the things on my plate, but there were times when I truly thought I couldn’t do it anymore. But somehow I found a way, and look where it got me.

Because of all of the aforementioned pressure I put on myself to be valedictorian, I found writing this speech to be an incredibly daunting task. I have put in all of my sanity and hours and hours of work to stand here and talk to you all, so I must have something I want to say, but how can I possibly string together the words to tell this story? One night I was deep in thought and a lyric from Hamilton came to mind: “I wish I could just build palaces out of paragraphs.” And there was my ah-ha moment. A musical! These past four years we have all been living our own high school musical.

The curtain opened to the first act of our high school years way back in 2014. We were naive and inexperienced, but we soon were allied with the compassionate faculty on campus who showed us the ropes. Mr. Leong was one of the first smiling faces we were greeted by, and his kindness never dimmed from that moment on. Teachers like Ms. Lee and Ms. Williams introduced us to the new worlds of biology and Shakespeare while we got settled in, while we dove in head first with teachers like Mr. Chavez with heart dissections and career exploration. We said hola and bonjour to chemistry experiments and badminton. As our first two years continued, we adjusted to the workload and got through the day with the help of Mr. Matt’s so-called “stay awake juice” and pals like Ms. Walker’s gecko, Nori.

During Act 2 was when we were really tested and pushed to our limits. Some of us thought we were living the hard-knock life as underclassman, but we were soon let in on a little secret: The “best” was yet to come. We juggled AP classes, the SAT, more homework than we thought possible. We slayed the beast that was the personal statement and college applications. Ms. Pham was brave enough to teach us calculus and though she instilled fear in us, it was her way of believing in our potential to succeed, and we did. Those of us who dared step into room C-13 and look beyond the Trojan-covered walls found ourselves a bit overwhelmed by Spun and her expectations, but we were to able to navigate through piles of color plates and cat dissections. She forced us to think beyond the surface and challenged preconceived notions of our knowledge. Our government teachers guided us through the Constitution to shape us into informed citizens and then did a quick costume change to teach us about supply and demand.  At some point we all got a bit of a break to take a fine art; whether it was singing, dancing, painting or photography, we all got a chance to try something new. I want to thank Mr. Souza for persuading me to join choir and reminding me how much more enjoyable life can be if you let out your heart’s inner song. There are far too many notable mentors found on our campus to be said, and each person’s impact has shaped the young adults we have all become.

We had several intermissions that allowed us to step away. We came dressed as our favorite memes and quoted vines all day, we cheered on our football team all the way to a CCS victory, we built fantastic homecoming floats and a Mike Wazowski that will stay in the ASB office forever, and we danced our hearts out at prom. Golf carts were stolen, balance beam stick fights were won, seven was said, and sometimes those people on the announcements broke out into uncontrollable laughter.

Now as we take our final bow, we can look back on our memories and reminisce about all we know. But if we step into the sun to look down the path ahead of us, there’s still so much learning to be done. We’ve all been told to follow the yellow brick road, but there is no single path that leads to our happiness; our future is unlimited and it’s up to us to find our way there. From here on out, we have the ability to choose where we end up. Dare to dream and have the courage to pursue your wildest ambitions; nothing is too far out of reach.

We do not have a say in whether or not we attend high school, but we can decide what we make of our time here. Gilroy High has provided us with ample opportunity to venture out and explore our different passions. We were challenged, we struggled, we overcame, and we thrived. I believe that being a student here has charged me for the better, but some of you might not be so sure at this moment, regardless, I think it can be said that being a Mustang has changed us all for good.

My fellow peers, it’s time to trust your instincts, close your eyes and leap. Go defy gravity and work to be satisfied. Go find your purpose and know, wherever you go, you will be found. Do something incredible, and do not throw away your shot. Make sure to vote this November! Thank you and congratulations to the graduating class of 2018.


Isabel Prieto

Gilroy High School

Class of 2018 Salutatorian

Good evening class of 2018! My name is Isabel Prieto, and I am honored to be here tonight as your salutatorian. Before I begin, I would like to welcome the Gilroy Unified School District board members, Dr. Sanchez, the GHS faculty, staff, friends and family members attending tonight’s marvelous ceremony in support of our graduating class. Without your guidance, time and dedication you all put into the students of Gilroy High School, we would not be celebrating with such success today.

Let me begin by saying, writer’s block is a real thing! I know because I had the hardest time putting my thoughts together for this speech. It’s not like I’ll be reciting this in front of all my peers, family and hundreds of people who can record my every mistake. But the reality was I didn’t know how to boil down the last four years into just a few words. Nevertheless, I kept telling myself to just put those thoughts down—any thought— just keep writing. Then it hit me. In the midst of some deep interneuron communication (thank you, HBS), I had an epiphany. “Never stop writing your story.” Regardless of your race, financial situation, religion or sexual orientation, we all will write our own powerful story.

My high school story began when I promised myself to do my very best in school. I would be lying if I told you that academics came easily to me. I am not Jimmy Neutron with an enormous  brain that has all the answers to everything. Instead, every grade, award and achievement I received was because I willingly put in an endless amount of hours to make sure I understood why my plasmid did not uptake the green fluorescent protein or how to graph the derivative of a derivative. Seriously though, if I had a dollar every time someone told me, “It’s Friday night! Why are you studying?,” my college would be paid for! That said, your story depends on the hard work you put in today, tomorrow and all the rest of your tomorrows, whether your working toward your electrician certificate, your beautician license, your AA or your PhD.

Determination and persistence go hand in hand with hard work. I think it’s safe to say that the girls water polo, football, softball, wrestling, baseball, track and field and swimming teams made it to CCS because these two ideals were ingrained in each team member. Having been on the water polo team all four years of high school, I had the privilege of experiencing my team going from never winning a single game to becoming undefeated league champions my senior year. Our triumph was achieved by our entire teams’ irresistible drive for success, pushing through  setbacks, and I suppose having the most committed and passionate coach helped tremendously (thank you, Doug!). But when you get stuck in the middle of a chapter, remember to keep writing, because you’ll never know the outcome if you don’t try. So practice these skills diligently.

This next chapter is full of unknowns, which can be paralyzing. But don’t be afraid of failing. As Denis Waitley said, “Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Share your failures: After all, if we didn’t include the clip of Mr. Pierce’s microwave almost catching fire in an econ video project, we would not know to watch out for aluminum in protein bar wrappers. No one is perfect, and born out of the womb doing calculus. That’s right, not even Ms. Pham, but maybe her children.

In the midst of all the hard work and challenges, remember to take time to make your story adventurous, memorable and fun! Write about your favorite characters, the ones who stood by your side through it all and were there to catch you when you fell. Write exuberantly about your first prom, homecoming, rallies (thank you, Mr. Leong) late-night In and Out Burger runs and all the great freestyle rapping that Izzy gave during lunch. Write about the things we made our poor teachers do, like force Ms. Freiberg to create a Snapchat. Incorporate the new quotes and sayings you have learned over the year. I know, Chavez, “I’m making you nervous”. And don’t forget to include the times you came out of class mind boggled, like after learning about existentialism in Ms. Kelly’s class. Whatever the memories are, don’t forget to mention them throughout your story.

It’s okay to stop mid-chapter and begin a rewrite, until you find what suits you the best. Its okay  not to know what you want to write about…but it is up to us to decide the content.

Tonight we are finishing our last sentences of the “Survival Guide to High School” and writing our first words to “How to Adult 101.” But before we can begin, we need to dedicate our story to all the editors who proofread our pages, fixed our grammar and corrected spelling, especially the teachers, faculty, friends and family in our life who encouraged us. These people are why we have written our first bestseller. So, class of 2018, as we complete this book and start our sequel, remember to never stop writing your story, remember the people who helped you, remember the lessons you’ve learned, and remember the place where it all started.

Thank you.