ALBANY, Calif. — Caps sailed through the air of the Albany High School Gym on the evening of June 8, 2012. The Graduating Class of 2012 — 282 strong — walked across the stage amid the applause of friends, teachers, and of course, parents.
Valedictorian’s Address — Yvette Zou and Zian Liu
Yvette Zou’s speech was not available at the time of publishing.
Yvette Zou will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall.
I still remember the first time I stepped in this gym. We were eighth graders back then, nervously awaiting high school. We were welcomed by Profe Lim-McAlister, who taught us how to say “hello” in Spanish, English, and Chinese.
I wish bidding farewell could be just as easy, by turning to each other and saying “adiós,” “goodbye,” and “再见,” but too much has happened in the past four years. Too many teachers have inspired us, too many students have changed us, too many parents have helped us, and too many memories have been made.
I remember being hypnotized by those white-and-red tiles on the first day of class and wondering how many gallons of coffee Profe must drink every day to stay hyper through five sections of “¡Ay, chico!”
I remember running each mile – each of those three laps around the school, focused on reaching a single target – that glowing ball of reflected light at the finish mark – which happened to be Mr. Shevelson’s head.
I remember the first day of Algebra II Honors, when Mr. Rayyan enlightened us that physics must be necessary to be psychic – for both words started with “PH.”
I remember seeing Chris Gilliam and Siobhan Bauer on the track field, and knowing that they must be half cheetah.
I remember Mr. James and his ties, Mr. Purdom and his plaid shirts, Profe and her shoes, and Mr. Becker and Mr. Rasband and their bromance. I remember Nir and his keys, Juneyoung and his lunch box, Julia and her pretty pink ponies, and Richard and his endless stacks of magic cards. But, my friends, we must never forget where our potentials truly lie – they lie not within history, but in the future.
Today, as we cross the stage, we enter a world we control, where we can ignore those tiger parents and that little sister, and become independent. Today, we gain free will; we are granted the power over our destinies. We make a choice to either wield that power to exercise our full potentials, or fall back and just let go.
Four years ago, we graduated from middle school. Our decisions through these last four years guided us through the labyrinth of high school, and they forged our accomplishments of today.
Classmates, as we continue to a new stage of life, we continue to make choices. One of us may be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Another –Albert Einstein, and there is no reason why one of us can’t be the next Barack Obama, or in my case, Hu Jintao. Our choices determine our futures, and today, I ask you now to follow your dreams as you make those choices. Today, nothing is impossible, and today, the world is ours.
In closing, let me ask you to imagine yourself at that high school reunion twenty years from this day. What, then, will we be? What, then, will we have done?
In twenty years, there is so much we can learn, accomplish, and discover. In twenty years, the world can change us, and we can change the world. In twenty years, though we may not recognize each other on that day of our reunion, I know that two things are clear: we’ll all be amazing, and I will still dress the same way I do today.
Thank you, congratulations to the Class of 2012, and good luck!
Zian will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall.
Student Body President’s Address — Savannah Miller
This is our last day together guys. Last time we’ll all be together. And then it’s all over. Well, at least high school is. It’s a new beginning depending on what you will miss and what you will look forward to. Its been a great deal of years that has comprised our childhood and teenhood. Seems like an eternity when you start out as just a naive little four year old, eager to make friends, and quite possibly embarrassing yourself through a few over excited encounters. And yes, those of you who have experienced or done this, you know who you are. And now, we are expected to live completely on our own. Completely independent and completely alone. Twelve years,and we have never been completely alone. We will never have a twelve years that will have encompassed this much growth and enlightenment ever again. The only people that will be able to understand this ridiculous and tumultuous time in your lives are sitting next to you. Surrounding you and understanding you. Lifting you up when needed and bringing you down when you need to get closer to the earth. And whether you like it or not, we will always be the next closest bond we have to family. Who else is going to know how awkward and obnoxious you were in middle school, or the embarrassing haircut you wore with pride during your awkward transition into Freshman Year. But even with all the faults, we will all remember how utterly fantastic we all were. I have always said with pride that our class is a class of leaders. Everyone in our class has taken the lead on something and has carried on that power with pride. Where would school spirit be without Alice Timken to light the way? Or Maddie Kirkby and her fantastic cookies? And don’t forget Kevin Lee, who brought along Build Hope Club into the lime light. Just like, Maya Baumer, Grace Lu, and Sydney Ren, who passionately brought along Unicef. I am sure we will all be lost without the stern guidance of the Dragon Master to constantly lecture us with stories of communism and game design. Last but certainly not least, no one will ever forget our Mia Hamm, Robin Mertens. I could go on and on about the rest of us; I really mean that. But even if I don’t or anyone else doesn’t please just remember for yourself. Hold your accomplishments and your tears, and your passion. Own it and carry it with you. Because once you leave this room, no one will ever know what you have accomplished like we do. No one will give you an easy ride just because of your greatness, cause they will have no idea, yet.You will have to work your hardest to let it shine for people. After you leave this school, no one will ever know anything you did in these twelve years. It’s a fresh start for some, and a cruel joke for others. But however you treat it, do me a favor and cherish right now your time with the people around you. Remember and reminisce over the things you always want to keep with you. Because these people are the key to your past. They know you inside and out. And will always be there for you, even if you forget. Always.
Savannah will be attending Lewis & Clark College in the fall.
Class of 2012 President’s Address — Rosie Nketiah and Caitlin Ross
Welcome friends, family, faculty, and staff. My name is Rosie Nketiah, and I am your 2012 Senior Class president, and this is Caitlin Ross, your 2012 Senior Class Vice president. It has been an honor to serve as senior representatives to such an amazing class this year. With the guidance and love from all our teachers and family we can attribute this success to all those who supported us along the way. Some of us have been within the Albany education system for over 14 years, like myself, and leaving this small town will be a new experience. For others this is just an additional chapter and new experiences will arise as well. It is amazing to see how much we have grown up from our initial start here at Albany High School. It seems like just yesterday that we were sitting in these exact seats for our 8th grade graduation, anticipating the day we would have actual graduation caps to throw up in celebration. Class of 2012, we’ve made it!
It is said that little drops of water makes a mighty ocean. Seniors, we ARE that ocean. We have always been the class that embraces the differences of others, while staying strong and unified. And something that I’ve realized that is so unique about this group of people is that we’re there for each other. If a friend is in need we have always been a class that comes together to help one another and protect and support our fellow classmates. Our competitive nature has always kept us on our feet: academically and… you all remember homecoming! We’ve spent these past four years piecing together our lives, futures, and making memories that will last a lifetime. The road to success is a challenging one, but Class of 2012, we’ve made it!
Senior year. Defined as a time of severe procrastination, paying your OVERDUE book fines from 4 years ago, and reluctantly finding the ounce of energy to get up from bed. Shockingly, we were able to wake up this one last time to dress in our caps and gowns and graduate. Despite the “senioritis”, we’ve come out more productive than intended; may it be academically, getting or job, or just simply finding yourself. We must cherish the knowledge and skill we have retained over our time in Albany, as we use it to propel forward in life. Seniors, you should be proud of all the various achievements you have accomplished. We came seeking a reward, worked hard towards that reward, and TODAY we are getting OUR reward! Class of 2012, we’ve made it!
As we depart, leave knowing your accomplishments.
Leave knowing how far you’ve come.
And leave knowing we will always be Albany’s Class of 2012. So remember life is like a cougar, so always run wild!!!
Class of 2012, WE’VE MADE IT!!!!
Rosie will be attending Loyola Marymount University in the fall. Caitlin will be attending the University of Arizona in the fall.
Speakers at Large — Celia Greene and Pike Goldschmidt
Sometimes, I am baffled by excessive displays of sentimentality. Granted, other times I cry at insurance commercials, but who’s counting. In any case, I’d like to think that by this point, for graduation, I’ve found a happy medium.
A mere few months ago, my inclination upon graduation would have been to flip the bird and sprint away. Luckily, that idea has been vetoed. Yes, because it would have been embarrassing to my poor family, but mostly because it wouldn’t have been fair to you guys, because I actually don’t want to undervalue the time that I’ve spent here. I am graduating with memories—I mean, obviously, because I have a brain—but good memories, fond memories.
That’s not to say I don’t have my complaints: The bathrooms, even though the messages in there are often highly entertaining—remember the Video Music Award recaps? Those moments when you’re sleep deprived and it’s 7:40 in the morning and some kid thinks it’s socially to begin screeching at her friend. The fact that I am going to remember wholly irrelevant things about high school more than my actual schooling. The forced association. The constant superficiality that comes with having such a long shared history. The smell.
But the fact of the matter is that I did enjoy it here, it would be a lie to say that I won’t miss it. You all have shaped me, defined me—my personality, my sarcasm, my goals, probably not my future or aspirations because I haven’t decided them yet, so please don’t ask me, but everything else, was all shaped by the people gathered here today.
My apologies, everyone. I just started to veer a little too close to the aforementioned sentimentality that I feel so ambivalent about. On a lighter note: remember the wholly irrelevant information I’ve learned that I mentioned before? Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short. Things that I have learned from Albany High School in Albany, California, not New York:
- the name Albany is rarely actually associated with this town outside of a five mile radius
- if you’ve had Mr. De Hart, you know that Michael Moore is an intellectual demigod
- existentialism is, at its root, paradoxical and ironic
- I should have taken photography
Now, on to the obligatory advice section. Because I technically have not yet graduated, I cannot offer experiential advice to the recent graduate. However, I’d like to offer advice that I think I might offer to a recent graduate were I to find myself in a position to do so legitimately:
Please don’t pay too much attention to what other people say about you. If someone is telling you a spider is on your back, you should maybe listen, but in general other people’s opinions matter far less than does your own.
Eat fruit, especially while you’re in California.
Take your stand as who you want to be in this world.
Wear maxi skirts, especially on airplanes.
You’re young, take risks now, but find the balance between living in the moment and keeping an eye on the future.
When I first started thinking about this speech, I thought I wanted to get up here and say something about why I may not have enjoyed all my time here. But now, as I reflect back and look forward, maybe the most important thing that I’ve learned here is that in all honesty, the complaints I have about high school are the same complaints I’m going to have out there in the real world. I’m going to have to put up with monotony and busy work and people I just don’t like for my whole life. But in general and at this point, at graduation, there’s really no point in dwelling on it. So all I really have to say is, thanks and congratulations, Class of 2012.
Celia will be attending The George Washington University in the fall.
One characterizing trait found at Albany that exists at no other school on the planet is the resiliency found in each and every student. And I’m not talking about the kid who loses his parents in a tragic oboe accident, is raised by a pack of wolves, and goes on to be the star football player.
And I’m not talking about the academic resiliency of people like Patrick Xu, who go on to salvage straight As when lethargy and apathy sets in on everyone else. That’s not resiliency Patrick; not even the teachers care that you’re giving an effort this time of year.
I’m talking about the dorky resiliency that separates Albany from the ranks of the true jock schools in the Bay Area. Piedmont might think they’re a nerdy jock school, but in fact they’re really just a bunch of lame, phony wannabes.
This is the kind of resiliency I’m talking about. When I was taking my SAT IIs last June, a certain classmate of mine was denied the right to use his TI-89 for the Math 2 Subject Test. If you’ve never seen a TI graphing calculator, they look something like this. Besides solving integrals, they can also double as a Game Boy and a defibrillator. Anyway, looking to save the day, I offered to lend him my calculator. But he didn’t need me; he had the situation taken care of. Earning him what I imagine to be a perfect score or close to that, as well as sacrificing any chance at talking to the two cute El Cerrito girls sitting in the row ahead of us, he had another TI-84 ready to go. Only an Albany kid could have the guts to pull off something like that. Nice going, Juneyoung.
But where will this unique resiliency take us? There are some sitting in front of me that are going to go on to build the next Pyramids, head companies, and amass great wealth and fortune off of nothing but sheer ability. There are some that are going to have to work hard to get by, but won’t back down, because that’s just not their style.
This resiliency will play its part when someone who’s trying to sucker us puts our backs against the wall. People who haven’t dealt with Albany will think they can take dead aim on us, get us in the crosshairs, and take us down. And our reaction? Work right around them, using our clever tactical genius we were taught by people like Purdom, Castle, and Becker, and sucker them right back. If there’s one thing this institution has taught us, it’s that we’re not idiots, and we shouldn’t have to settle for the idiot’s lot in life.
Take the Varsity Mens Soccer Team for instance. After a power struggle between the new coach and the seniors over how they would play this season, several star players were either sent down to JV or cut from the team entirely, and the team suffered immensely. How did our seniors respond? After a coaching change and a “return to the normalcy” of Albany soccer dominance, the men went on to make a run to the NCS Championship, all as the seven seed. The same can be said for the women’s team, who made it all the way to the semifinals despite losing a star player of their own to a robotic knee replacement.
These examples aren’t just limited to sports and nerding out, however. I’m sure any of us can look around and see the resiliency of a classmate we’ve known our whole lives. We all could give a good story about a personal battle we had to overcome to make it today. I don’t know a whole lot about adolescent development, but I don’t think most teenagers are prone to comprehending 7:40 AM classes. Everyone here today earned their place by sucking it up and giving their all; don’t let anyone tell you differently.
So, Class of 2016, if there’s one thing I’ve learned and will share with you, it’s be resilient and have fun doing it. We’re Albany, and no one works us unless it’s Salesian and the sport is basketball, or football, or baseball. As philosopher, motivational speaker, and party enthusiast Andrew WK once said, “When it’s time to party, we will party hard.”
Pike will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall.
President of the Board of Education’s Address –Paul Black
Superintendent Stephenson, Assistant Principals Charlip and Benau, distinguished guests, class of 2012, family and friends, Congratulations!
In March of 2000, a tourist in the Grand Canyon decided to pick up a little change. At some of the scenic overlooks, there are small plateaus separated from the overlook, onto which tourists
toss coins, like wishing wells. This fellow climbed over the fence, ignoring all warning signs, and leapt to one of these small perches. He filled a bag with coins and then went to jump
back to the mainland. Unfortunately, he didn’t take into account the fact that with the coin-filled sack in hand, he weighed more than he did before. He didn’t make it.
You, like this tourist, have been in a confined area—in your case, high school—where you have been picking up treasure—knowledge—and now you’re preparing to make the leap back into the real world.
I know you’re eager to get on with it, get your diploma, and get on with celebrating your accomplishment. However, I would be derelict in my duty as a graduation speaker if I didn’t give
you a word of advice before you do so. One word. Here it is:
Hold up THINK sign
Unlike the fellow in the Grand Canyon, before you do anything, THINK. Whether you’re deciding which propositions to support in the November election, whether to get into a car with a driver who’s been drinking all evening, or what classes to take in college in the fall, THINK.
In 1928, a scientist named Alexander Fleming was doing an experiment that required growing bacteria in small glass plates called Petri dishes. One evening he accidentally left the lid
off one of the dishes, and the next day he noticed that there was a circle of dead bacteria in the dish.
Now most people would just have thrown the dish out, but Fleming did something else.
Hold up sign.
He decided to find out what had killed the bacteria. He discovered a mould called Penicillium that could kill bacteria. That discovery led to the invention of the first broad-spectrum antibiotic, Penicillin, which led eventually to many other antibiotics, responsible for saving millions of lives in the century since.
If we’ve done our jobs here in the Albany schools, we’ve haven’t only made you memorize a lot of facts, like what “antibiotic” means. We’ve also taught you to do what?
Think for yourself. Make critical judgements. Decide what’s true, and what’s the right thing to do.
Congratulations on graduating from High School. Now show the world what you can do. Go out there and
Presentation of the Class — Susan Charlip
To the class of 2012, I am delighted to be addressing you on this most auspicious occasion, perhaps the most important transition in your lives so far. We are all very proud of you. What a great crowd you have been, a very special brood filled with some of the most talented, funny, smart, sweet people. You have the gift of satire, irony, kindness and humor. You also know what it is to struggle, overcome challenges, and hardship and unfortunately you know what it is to lose a cherished friend.
Graduation ceremonies prompt speakers to invoke visions of changing the world and that you SHALL and you WILL. This morning you demonstrated that your teachers had taught you well to fight against injustice, speak up to the abuse of power, the lessons of the Occupy movement; and as a senior prank, a group of you occupied the atrium together, demanding an end to the oppressive tardy policy, bigger cookies, and the right to dance as you see fit. You called for solidarity and fighting the Man, and I would reiterate that, in the words of your community leaders, the answer is blowing in the wind.
Many of you have been together since pre-school, where growing up in Albany has been very good to you. We are confident that armed with your Albany High education you are walking away with solid critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, communication skills, & a love of learning; thanks to your talented, dedicated teachers, counselors, secretaries, custodians, instructional aides, Ms. Benau, and even your parents, we are confident that you will meet tremendous success wherever your curiosity & passions may lead you.
When I was a child we had no cell phones; we had black and white television and only 3 channels; we had to get up off the couch and walk over to the television to change those channels, since there was NO remote control!? If you can imagine such a dark and primitive world, we had no texting, no laptops, no desktops, no PlayStations, Droids, or iPods or iPads. Yet somehow we managed to memorize vocabulary, annoy our teachers, and get picked up at the airport.
When you were born (most of you) in 1994, the Internet was also born, and in your short lives you have participated in the greatest revolution in technology than in any previous generation. Your lives have been marked by radical change in the way you communicate and learn, read books, pick a movie, navigate through traffic, order a pizza, listen to music—and that’s just with your phones! You take for granted the magic of such power, so much information, all so accessible in your hands. This was once the stuff of science fiction. The once only imagined is now just daily life.
Your world moves very fast. If you want to have the biggest impact you have to take risks, make mistakes, & imagine the unimaginable. You have that power now & armed with your Albany High education, you have the tools to save the environment, cure diseases, fight against injustice, occupy the atrium, and change the world. You really do.
On these occasions it is tempting for someone like me to give you advice, but I feel I should protect you from any advice I could offer, so now, Superintendent Stephenson, it is a pleasure to present the graduating class of 2012. I certify that they have met the graduation requirements established by the State of California and the Board of Education of the Albany Unified School District.