Orestimba High School Class of 2012 valedictory address
By SAUL TELLO JR.
(Editor’s note: The following English translation of Orestimba High School valedictorian Saul Tello Jr.’s graduation address was provided by Orestimba High School. He prefaced his address by apologizing to audience members who did not understand Spanish)
It is an honor and a pleasure to stand before you as valedictorian of the class of 2012, and the student with the highest grade point average in our class of 173. I would first of all like to thank those who have helped me arrive at this point. I thank my father, who made sure that I always did my very best. I also want to thank my mother, who always reminded me that I was capable of great things. I want to thank the rest of my family, especially my older sister, as well as my teachers and friends. I must say our class is one of the most intelligent and capable classes. Any number of us could have achieved this valedictorian honor. But this is also one of the classes where students have the habit of leaving things for the last minute, and I must confess that there is a bit of that same spirit in me. I apologize for having left the preparations for this speech for the last minute.
Even so, I wanted to do something that no one else had done before in their valedictorian address, and so I chose to give my speech in Spanish. I won’t bore you with tedious details about all my four years in school, but I want to share with you some of the things that have had a major and lasting effect on me. Don’t take me wrong, there were many valuable lessons I learned during the four years at school, and some of them were captured in sayings that we used as students.
“Be like a boss,” is my friend Jesus’ favorite saying, because when you are the boss, you stand for something worthwhile in whatever you do; you are a leader. This saying captures one of the qualities that I’ve seen in our class: we have tried to do the very best in all that we have attempted. We have tried to lead in our studies, our service to the community, our participation in school clubs, in art and many other things. At some point during the past four years, each of us has brought our very best in something that we have done, and in doing so, have lived out this saying. And tonight as we graduate, we stand for something important: a successful high school education. Let this not be the last time we will accomplish something of value. In all that we do from this point forward, let us strive for excellence. We must “Be like a boss.”
Leadership is not possible without a vision or a dream that gives strength for our life ahead. And so we come to the second saying, one that my friend Ezekiel began using awhile back. He said that we were “The Class of Dreamers.” We have always had hopes and dreams to inspire and motivate us to move forward. When we were kids, we dreamed of being veterinarians, fire fighters, police officers and many other things. These dreams changed and evolved as we grew and matured. Today we dream of being lawyers, doctors, scientists, and many other things to make the world, in which we live, a better place. In the next few years, we must continue nurturing these dreams, and make them become a reality. In doing so, we will prepare for the next chapter in this great adventure. It will be difficult and hard work, but we must not become weary. Remember that today we have accomplished the first half of the dream. Today, we graduate from high school.
The third and final saying I want to share is, “Those that do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We learned this important lesson in our history classes. The same things will happen over and over if we don’t take time to learn from what has come before us. Thousands of others have begun their college studies and careers, and it is important to learn from the lives of others that have gone before us. We need to learn from their successes and failures so that we can provide positive contributions to the society in which we live, regardless of our profession.
This is the moment that we leave school and enter the world as adults. From this day forward, we must consider our contributions to the world around us, and we must make it a better place for the coming generations. Nothing is impossible, regardless of how great or small. If you don’t believe this take my case, as an example. Simply by being the valedictorian I’m making changes. By being the first Hispanic valedictorian at our school to give his address in Spanish I am showing you that change is possible. From this day forward, I encourage each and every one of you to strive to realize your dreams. I want you to learn from those who have succeeded, so that you will also strive to be successful in all that you do. Above all, remember that we are the class of 2012, and that we are part of the future all around us. Thank you for your time.