‘With hard work and wise choices, we can all have success’

Belinda Allen, right, holds back tears as she hugs with friends Janalle Hernandez, left, and Mariah Martinez after the Christopher High School graduation ceremony Friday.

Thank you. I am honored to represent the Class of 2012! Our parents would probably agree that it wasn’t very long ago that we began our journey in kindergarten. We entered the classroom holding our parent’s hand and with Minnie Mouse or Power Ranger backpacks on our shoulders. At the time we were nervous, scared and excited. I know that I cried, but once it started and friends were found, the path was easier. I know that I will always be grateful to my first teachers. They taught me to read and that opened the world to me.  
Now we’re finally graduating high school and what a journey this has been. Most of us began our high school experience over on the other side of town at Gilroy High. It was big, it was exciting and it was everything high school was supposed to be. I know that, like many of you, I was reluctant to leave Gilroy High and many of my friends when the news came that I was going to switch schools.
So after our brief stint at Gilroy High, we started over here at Christopher High. This has been a time of great development for both the students and the school itself. Remember the first months, when the construction was still going on and the walk from the A to B building meant a long walk all the way around the buildings? The dining commons and the library were not open at first – or even finished yet. Many of our sports teams were just JV and didn’t win very much. Now, we have a wonderful environment, a complete set of buildings and a beautiful new pool.
As the first graduation class, we can remember all the wonderful things we have done. Classes taken, rallies attended, spirit weeks, sports seasons, lessons learned and memories made. Remember our first homecoming floats? We tried hard and had spirit, but they were a bit underwhelming. This past fall, we had a parade and it was wonderful to experience the support of the community and a successful football season. We were so lucky to be able to have such a special opportunity to be involved in the establishment of traditions and the very essence of Cougar pride.
Now Christopher High School is everything a high school is supposed to be and more and it is all because of us, the people here today. We are leaving a wonderful legacy of tradition and excellence behind for those who follow us.
And so, today marks a special day and point on our journey, as our paths diverge and we begin our own way in the world. This past year has been stressful for many of us as the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” became a reality. As we chose the path we will take next, we see many directions emerge. Some Cougars are going on to continue their educations either at colleges or trade schools. Others are joining the military or the work force.
There are many paths to success but one thing is certain; we must take ownership of our own futures. This is our time. It is not acceptable to make excuses. Not everyone will have a smooth path, but with hard work and wise choices, we can all have success in life. It is up to us.
I urge my fellow Cougars to take advantage of opportunities that are available. Take control of your education, whether it is in the classroom environment or elsewhere. Your future depends on your personal growth and development. Your teachers and parents can’t do this for you.
As we take hold of our future, we must remember those who have helped us along the way. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Christophers, who have generously given their support to this wonderful school; to Mr. Perales for assembling a quality staff of educators and ensuring an environment that is conducive to creativity and learning; to our teachers for expanding our knowledge, giving us guidance and putting up with us; to our coaches for teaching us the value of teamwork; and to our family and friends for their support and encouragement.
Finally, as we are here today, just like in kindergarten, looking out at our future, we are nervous, scared and excited. We may even cry. But with the support of our friends and families, we will be fine. This time we will go out confidently, knowing that with hard work, we can make our dreams into reality.
Thank you.
– Marcy Rubio, Christopher High School valedictorian