Thursday, May 26, 2011


Congratulations Class of 2011! Specifically my little sis-in-law Jessica!

Isn't she a babe?

I like how senior pictures a more personalized these days. Back in the '04 and before, we all had our own version of the same Ford studios poses I suppose it has it's own kind of charm.

That's my buddy Adam. We've been friends since kindergarten and I heard his voice in the dressing room when I was taking my senior pictures so we took some together. Jayme, Adam, and I have all been together since we were five.

ignore the random junior on the right

All this had me thinking of my own graduation and I couldn't believe it when I realized it was 7 years ago. I figure that means I don't have to be embarrassed any more when I tell people when I graduated. There is a show called Modern Family I love and they joked that to make a good graduation speech, all you needed to do was quote song lyrics. I laughed pretty hard because I used song lyrics in my graduation speech. Yep, I spoke at graduation.

I almost passed out.

Nothing like talking in front of your entire class, along with their friends and family to make you wonder why you auditioned in the first place. I was highly contemplating a run for the trash can until I saw someone left these on my chair.

Digging in my scrapbook for pictures, I found a copy of the speech tucked in. I reread it and thought it was much less lame than I thought it was at the time. So if you don't have any commencement exercises to sit through this year, feel free get your school pride and optimism quota filled by reading my speech. It's about my signature 4inch flipflops after the jump. But if you don't have any commencement exercises to attend and you are happy about that, I completely understand :)

Hey, they were cool.

And if you have a blog, I want you to post your own senior pictures, and send me a link in the comments. It has the potential to be epic :)

 Back story: our mascot was the warriors, the sprint bell was 2min before class started, Mr. Green was a teacher that did too many drugs in the 60's and spoke like it ven as the exchange club sponser, our high school was 10-12 grades only, we had giant balloon arches at almost every event or assembly, everyday after the announcements, the announcer would say, "the proud the few, the orange and blue," which our the school's colors.

"Four in heels. I am a towering 5'10" and I love to wear big shoes. When people notice the addition to my above-average height, I get lots of weird looks and the same response, "You are already tell, what's with the shoes?' I give everyone the same answer, "If you are going to be an Amazon, you might as well be an amazon with cute shoes." But to me they are more than a pair of "fashionable footwear." They are a simple reminder of how far I've come. When I came to Westwood, I sure felt cool enough. At good 'ol Kino I could walk straight down the arcade and watch as the little 7th graders scurried out of the wat while they ran tobe first in line to lunch. Rude was my awakening when I started out at Westwood my sophomore year. I was pushed and hit as I tried to make my way through Hall 1, trying to get by the 300 kids planted directly in the middle of the hall, the whole time attempting to hold my breath against the smell of so many people crammed in a small space.

Even though I was surrounded by people, I still felt alone. In the words of my favorite Bush song, "I was never alone, I was alone all the time." So I did something about it. I joined everything I could. Marching band, badminton, student council, the musical- you name it, I was in it. And soon I learned what it meant to be a warrior. No matter who you are or what you love, you can be accepted at Westwood. In marching band, you could go around biting people and drumline would still take you in. Even the most gnagly, athletically challenged freshman could play badminton, and even go so far as to win a state runner-up trophy. If you loved to paint your chest orange and blow up balloons, a lot of balloons, student council is the place for you. If you had an interest in other countries, X-club would invite you to any number of, in the words of Mr. Green, "bully" parties and BBQ's/ Ebony club was made for those ready to show their warrior pride. NHS was there for anyone who wanted to serve the community and sell some of the best muffins Price Club has to offer. No matter what you love, whether it is dance, ROTC, Yugioh cards, or Slipknot, there is a place for you at Westwood.

It took me three long years to realize it, but I didn't need to be self-conscious about anything anymore. Westwood isn't about "image." It didn't matter that I got straight A's or wore the same jeans three times in a row (you know you all do it). It didn't matter that I didn't do anything with my hair or wear make-up. And it didn't matter that I was five foot ten and wore four inch heels. Because that is not what being a warrior is all about.

It's about helping someone who needs it. It's about making a difference in the community. It's politely standing aside for the kids who start running exactly a minute and a half after the sprint bell. It's smiling and saying hello to someone who needs it. It's holding your head high after the hardest loss of your life. It's having integrity. It's the sixty kids who show up on a Saturday to represent Westwood and win a lifting competition. It's picking up your trash after lunch. It's growing out of a "stupid sophomore" and into a confident senior. It's learning there really are three O's in sophomore. It's cheering for and supporting teams that don't win every game. It's having blood that runs deep orange and not being afraid to give some of it. It's being different and able to accept it.

Being a warrior means becoming your best and not being afraid of what you can accomplish. I'd like to thank everyone who helped me get here and congratulations to the class of 2004, you made it. You are true warriors and will continue to do great things. I am proud to be one of you. You truly are the proud, the few, the orange and blue."

I really did believe that. Of course it was before I realized the universality of high school kids thinking they don't quite belong. Cool kid, nerd, whatever, odds are you thought you didn't quite fit in. Even if you felt there wasn't a group just like you, you could find somewhere to be at least accepted at Westwood. And even though we were the "ghetto" school in the district with all the problems it entails, I was able to see first hand the generosity, community, and spirit of the students.  Despite high school being far from the happiest time of my life, I'm still proud of my school.


ACW said...

I'm so proud of you! I wanted to be a little more amazing like you, in high school. I wanted to speak at graduation, but I couldn't think of anything to say. I wanted to be Homecoming Queen, but how does anyone do that? But frankly, I LOVED high school. But reading commencement speeches makes me feel all weird inside. I hate endings. All I love is the future and possibilities. And I love being a warrior!

Lauren said...

I also went to the ghetto high school in my town... except no one had any morsel of school pride in that place. We also didn't really do senior portraits like you guys out west. We did have the yearbook picture and that was about it. I won't be able to post it since I don't think I have an actual copy of one anywhere with me in PA.

I loved reading your speech! And I can't believe last night was graduation in AZ... and in PA it was 55 degrees today. :(

Marilyn said...

That's awesome! I really need to dig through my pictures to find my senior year. Too bad nothing was digital then.

Jami said...

I loved this post. I can't believe its been 7 years. I didn't even realize that till you wrote that. Crap I feel old.


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