Graduation Speech 2017 - Justin Tso
Greetings, faculty, friends, family, and most of all, to the MHS graduating class of 2017.
If I could, this is where I'd launch into a monologue the general experience the class of 2017 had over the last four years, conjuring up images of blue and gold benches, half-cooked lunches, and that terrible tree smell in the spring. I'd reference the colleges we're going to, say that I love you all, and use some tired cocoon-to butterfly metaphor to cap it all off. And, to be honest, I could. But that wouldn't be telling the truth.
Talking about this MHS class in a general term is contradictory to everything I've learned about this school. Our experiences are the farthest thing from uniform that you can imagine-- we're not the faceless crowd, trudging through the same familiar hallways, taking the same path here.
The thing about MHS is that it's so big that none of us will have ever shared the same exact story. In a class of over 700, we manage to find our way by making it feel small. We call MHS our home, but the real places we made our own are far more intimate than that; a table that's barely covered by a shade, where your closest friends never fail to crack you up. The band room. Studying in a classroom for your next Science Olympiad competition, late at night. The football field, under those Friday Night Light-- these are just some of the places where you might have made your mark.
As I stand in front of an eclectic, diverse, and yes, even strange group of people (I'm willing to bet that half of you have no idea who I am) I just think painting the picture of this class in broad strokes is the biggest injustice you can commit. The stories of these seniors are all in the details, the one we've etched out for ourselves over the last four years. And that's why I think today shouldn't be about the nameless, massive class walking, the principal, or maybe even the stranger talking right at this moment. We shouldn't be politely applauding for an entire class; we should be screaming, jumping, making a fool out of ourselves, for the ones who are special to us. And so I say that today isn't about us, but for you, the biggest character in your own story, and the people who brought you here. A celebration of the inside jokes, personal quirks, and struggles overcome that you and you loved ones know best, because you lived it. You don't' have to shared today. So don't.
All of these little details that separate you from the person next to you will hopefully be a part of the memories that you experience today. As the years step out the door with you, you'll catch some of the great victories you had here, fro being captain of the varsity golf team to (and this is my personal greatest achievement in high school) crossing up a friend 1-on-1 on those familiar blacktop courts on a random Tuesday afternoon. Inevitable, they'll be some experiences that linger around that can't wait to kick out, like forgetting to do the back of a chemistry test (more than once). And perhaps the ones that we’ll miss the most of all are the smallest moments that we took for granted: those milk tea and pizza runs, or an idle conversation with your best friend. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily for you), it's the school we're saying goodbye to, not the memories we made. They're coming along with us for the ride ahead, as evidence of the effect you've had on the world around you.
Our graduation isn't really going to be about the sitting and standing, the music and chair arrangement. No, the real graduation might be what occurs afterwards: when we can see the people whose lives we changed. This day is for the friends who shared late night calls with us, who exchanged countless texts wit us, who bring out the best in us, and stay for the worst. Some of them should be sitting next to you, walking with you today and some, undoubtedly will be cheering you on from the stands. We couldn't have made it through the last four years without you, and even if we could, it would hardly be a journey worth taking.
To the teachers we truly treasure ( you know who you are): The ones who offered us their love and trust, who pushed us to new heights, who welcomed us in a hallways with the brightest and most sincere smiles. To the teachers who know our names, and better yet, understood the students that came with them. Coming from the quietest kid in every class, you left an indelible impact on me and so many others graduating today, and for that, I'm grateful.
And perhaps most importantly, to the families that have come out in support of us today, just as they have done for the last four years and beyond, you've played the greatest role of all. I stand fast by the fact that the only reason I'm standing up here today is because I've had a secret weapon every day of my high school life: every single school day (and I mean EVERY school day) I eat my mom's chicken and rice for lunch, and every morning, she wakes up before me to make chicken and pasta for breakfast. (you laugh, but it clearly works, so who' laughing now?) To the the parents who pushed us and comforted us, provided for us and always offered their unconditional love, nothing we do will ever be enough to repay you, In a moment of self-indulgence, I'm going to thank my parents, who don't hear this enough, and my sister, who never fails to remind me that I'm not cool. (And lastly, to my 84 year old grandma, who found the strength to come out here today and doesn't understand a word of what I'm saying. I'm awful at Chinese, but I think it’s quite telling that although I've grown up Cantonese all my life, the only real words of Chinese I know how to say are "Grandma" and "thank you". So, from my heart( daw che, mama). I hope you can hear me.
At such a big school, it's so easy to feel lost, insignificant, voiceless--another blank face in the enormous crowd you see today, as I expected when I first came here. But if this day proves anything, it's that we've each made our impact in the homes that we've found and on the people around us, and that impact is anything but quiet. With the roar that'll follow us tonight, the world we're about to enter just can't help but listen. So friends, family, and my fellow classmates, get ready to cheer and scream and clap your heart out.
Because for the last time, the Milpitas High Class of 2017 is about to take the stage.
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