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Parting words: the high school graduation speeches of Los Angeles

Thomas Riley High School in Los Angeles held its graduation on June 9. The school serves pregnant and parenting women. 

High school is coming to an end for students throughout Los Angeles this month, and no graduation is complete without a student speech. This year’s young orators thanked the people who told them they would fail, spoke in rhymes, came out to their classmates and “broke up” with their schools. Here are excerpts from some of their speeches.


Shari Martinez, 18 | Thomas Riley High School 

Shari Martinez puts on her gown before the Thomas Riley High School graduation. (Callaghan O'Hare / Los Angeles Times)
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Shari Martinez is one of six sisters and the first to graduate from high school. Her son is now 3 months old, and she spoke at Thursday’s commencement ceremony for Thomas Riley High School, a campus for pregnant minors in Los Angeles. 

In life we do things, some we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times in our heads. But they all make us who we are today, and in the end they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So just live, make mistakes, have wonderful memories and never, ever second-guess who you are. 

Being a single mother at 18 has taught me so much. I have learned to value myself a lot more, I have grown so much in confidence in all the things that I do. I won’t stand here and say that it’s easy, because sometimes it’s not. There are days when I want to pause my life and start over. And there are days where I want to stop and just quit. Then I realize that every day is a new beginning, and I grow stronger and learn something new.

I’m not perfect. I’m human. I make mistakes, too. But within the context of that, I continue to learn. Having a child has given me a reason to want to look forward in life, to want to succeed. Yeah, some days I needed a little push. But with the help of Riley High School and Mr. P., Ms. Collins, Crystal… I’m here today on my graduation day receiving my diploma. I’m not reading off of the script anymore, you guys.

Anyway, I want to also thank my parents for supporting me through the good and the bad, and being there for me in the hard times. I want to thank my brother and my sisters for always giving me a word of advice, for motivating me to do better. And I want to give a special shoutout to my son…because even though he is still too young to understand, he is my motivation. And he is the reason I want to succeed and the reason I will succeed. Thank you.


Angel Fuentes, 17 | John Hope High School

Angel Fuentes was the graduation speaker for schools in L.A. Unified's Educational Options Programs. (Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)
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Angel Fuentes spoke Wednesday at the Los Angeles Unified Educational Options Programs commencement ceremony at East L.A. College, where students from most of the district’s alternative and continuation schools received their diplomas. Fuentes has been in foster care three times, twice when he was in high school.

We are here to receive more than just a diploma. We are here to prove the people wrong who told us we would not make it. I have been told so many times that I would fail and that I would never make it in the real world that I actually started to believe it. So that’s when I started to fall back. I would wake up and look outside of the window and say, “There’s no point going to school. None of this will pay off.” So I would stay home, but when I stayed home I would hear my mom say, “Staying home is not going to get you anywhere.” Sometimes she said, “You’re a failure!” My mom was not the only person who told me that I would fail. My dad also told me the same…. I was so angry because I knew that those words weren’t true. I heard these words a lot. I feel like some here today can relate to my story because we all had our doubters.

Now that we are here today, we can say to the people who did not believe in us: Thank you for not believing in us because you created a person who is becoming a high school graduate, and that person does not care what people say anymore. We are here not only to prove you wrong, but we are here because we now believe in ourselves. We are aware that we can change our future.

There is no limit anymore. If we want to become a teacher, hairstylist, truck driver, social worker, receptionist, doctor, nurse, dental assistant, factory worker, pilot, psychologist, marine biologist, president of the United States or go into the military, WE WILL! Let’s use this diploma as an example to our younger friends and relatives that it’s not impossible to get here.

I want to thank John Hope High School and the people who believed in me when others did not. John Hope High School did not just teach me how to solve problems but also taught me life lessons which changed the way I live life now. So thank you, Mr. O’Connor, Ms. Lewis and especially our principal, Ms. McGee. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself. She taught me that the impossible could be possible. All of the other Educational Options schools have helped each one of you realize that the negative words are not true and that setting goals for graduation and beyond are the statements we need to be told. Each of us arrived at our graduating high school for different reasons but have one thing in common: staff and school community members that believe in us and valued our worth to be able to sit here today.

When I stayed home and then came back to school, I would come across Ms. McGee as I entered the office. I remember one day she asked me, “Is it hard to get to school?” and I told her, “No.” She told me, “If I have to go to your home and pick you up and bring you to school, I will.” When she told me that, I was terrified. So when it was time to come to school I made sure I did. Thank you, Ms. McGee, for being more than just a principal, but a second mom.

I would like to thank my auntie, uncle, godfather, cousins and my grandparents for helping me to continue to push forward. What my family did to help me is unforgettable. I will never take you for granted.

Thank you to each principal and staff member at all of the Educational Options schools for helping us achieve our diplomas. This is not the end of our journey. This is only the beginning. Look out world, we are going to change the future!


Kevin Argueta, 18 | UCLA Community School

Kevin Argueta gave his graduation speech in Spanish. (Courtesy of UCLA Community School)
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Kevin Argueta is a graduate of the UCLA Community School in Koreatown and came to the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 11. He chose to give his speech in Spanish at the school’s graduation Thursday:

Buenas tardes estimados padres de familia, maestros, personal de la escuela comunitaria de UCLA y compañeros de la clase del 2016:

Mi nombre es Kevin Argueta soy un estudiante Salvadoreño de Nacimiento y es un privilegio estar ante ustedes para compartir mi humilde discurso esta tarde inolvidable para todos nosotros. Mi sueño académico comenzó el día que decidí cruzar el desierto para mejorar una vida entre pobreza y violencia en El Salvador. Sin duda, el desierto se ha convertido en una metáfora en mi vida. Todavía recuerdo cuando me perdí a las 11 años y me separé de mi madre. A partir de entonces no sabía que me preparaba el futuro. De alguna manera todos estos años después de imigrar a los Estados Unidos  sigo siendo un estudiante extranjero cuya lengua materna es el Español. Este desierto no sólo es para mí sino también para los miles de imigrantes que quieren obtener una educación universitaria así como yo.

La aventura de cruzar la frontera no es algo que muchos de nosotros pedimos. Venimos de diferentes países, regiones, y culturas, pero todos compartimos algo en común, la perseverancia de salir adelante ya sea en el trabajo o el estudio. A veces como inmigrantes Latinos nos vemos en un desierto árido, seco donde los sueños se evaporan  poco a poco. Pero todas las mañanas que veía a mi mamá y a mi Papá levantarse para trabajar eso siempre me dio fuerzas para seguir adelante. Entonces mi desierto se volvía un mar lleno de vida y esperanza. Hoy, sin embargo el esfuerzo de mis padres con su amor y dedicación me han guiado a estar hoy aquí con todos ustedes. Mis padres han sido mis Super heroes!  Porque no hay mejor héroe que aquel  que sin capa lucha con sudor y sangre por el amor hacia nosotros. Mis padres me enseñaron que si no podemos volar, correremos. Porque si no podemos correr, caminaremos. Porque si no podemos caminar, gatearemos, pero sin importar nada seguiremos perseverando.

Queridos compañeros de la clase del 2016:

Me dirijo ante ustedes para invitarles a caminar en ese desierto conmigo e ir plantando la semilla de la esperanza y  conocimiento donde sea que nos lleve el futuro. Y emprender el siguiente viaje sin olvidar de dónde venimos y quienes somos. Porque las siguientes generaciones necesitan escuchar nuestra historia. Pero sobretodo  no dejarnos llevar por las etiquetas que los políticos y los medios de comunicación se han encargado de darnos a los Latinos como  criminales. La sociedad siempre juzga un libro por su portada más no toma el tiempo para leerlo. Hoy, cada uno de nosotros estamos demostrando el esfuerzo y la perseverancia que determina a un latino o latina. Desde el hombre o mujer que trabaja como cocinero o lavaplatos, hasta la persona que deambula en la calle limpiando vidrios por una o dos monedas. Los invito a voltear hacia nuestras familias, madre, padre, tío o tía, abuelo o abuela, que nos han enseñado a valorar cada cosa en nuestras vidas y el privilegio que ellos  nos ha proveído, les invito a decirles, gracias.

Durante estos seis años en la escuela comunitaria de UCLA he aprendido a ser más que un estudiante, He aprendido a ser un ser humano que merece respeto y tiene voz. Al igual he aprendido el significado de la verdadera amistad, que a pesar que seas el único Salvadoreño o el único Costarricense  en un grupo de Cuatro amigos Mexicanos, todo queda atrás porque no hay ni muro, ni rivalidad, ni desierto que sea más grande que la unidad de una amistad. Gracias; Stephen, Frank, José, Jonathan y Braulio por haber estado conmigo todo este tiempo, porque amigos como ustedes son difíciles de encontrar.

Antes de despedirme quiero dar gracias a los siguientes maestros:

  • A Ms. Salinas, por haberme enseñado que cada barrera es más que una ilusión, que como Borges dijo, “ He sospechado alguna vez que la única cosa sin misterio es la felicidad, porque se justifica por sí sola.”  usted me enseñó a sonreír y reír a pesar de cualquier situación en la que uno está pasando, usted que me enseñó que su corazón es más grande que el propio universo, y por eso le digo, gracias.
  • A Ms. Jiménez y Ms. Solomon, que me ayudaron a descubrir mi pasión hacia las leyes cuando me uní a CEJ . Que cada vez que nos quedamos callados o que protestamos estamos haciendo historia. Que cada sí o no que damos de alguna manera afecta a cada una de las personas que conocemos. Ustedes me enseñaron  a ser un activista. Gracias.

Y por último,  me gustaría agradecerle a

  • Ms. Trinchero. Porque a pesar que no sea más nuestra maestra de alguna forma u otra nos sigue enseñando. Porque cuando yo pensaba que todo mi esfuerzo se había destruído ante mis ojos, ella lo levantó y lo volvió a construír como si fuera un rompecabezas. Gracias por ayudarme y seguir creyendo.

India Thompson, 17 | Verdugo Hills High School 

India Thompson performed a poem at her Verdugo HIlls High School graduation. (Courtesy of India Thompson)
India Thompson performed a poem at her Verdugo HIlls High School graduation. (Courtesy of India Thompson)
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India Thompson wrote a poem as her graduation speech from Verdugo Hills High School and recited it at the commencement ceremony Thursday:

 

There are so many things I wish I could say

about the few hundred people graduating today,

but these 12 years we've been stuck in a fray

and it's impossible to say that we'd all like to stay.

 

I wish I could say all our childhoods were great:

that the roads we walked were easy and straight,

that within our families was all love and no hate.

But though there are trials waiting to complicate,

nothing can deflate the dreams that we make.

 

I wish I could say that we're all good friends:

that every conflict ends with the making of amends,

that there is no cruelty and love transcends,

that we're all truly happy and no one pretends.

 

I wish I could say it will all be a breeze:

going to school and getting degrees,

working a job trying not to displease,

living in a world with no guarantees.

 

And since high school’s over, it just gets more tough.

Although it's cliche to say that life is rough,

dreams have a price that cannot be rebuffed.

We could be down on our knees saying we've had enough.

 

But that doesn't mean we don't work towards success

because in reality we should strive for no less

and that pain or that gloom, that dismay or that stress

will be a little more bearable when we're trying our best.

 

So wherever you're going: Princeton or Yale,

community college determined not to fail,

working in retail advertising a sale,

or wandering around trying to find your own trail.

 

There are so many things to look forward to,

many opportunities for us to pursue.

With all this great freedom come great things to do

like step out of our past and start something new,

gain priceless experience, and change our worldview.

 

Just keep in mind that the future's unknown.

Reality’s calling, answer the phone.

You cannot succeed on wishing alone.

The past belonged to your parents,

make this future your own.

It has been an honor to be a part of a class with so many exceptional people. I wish the best for every single one of you. Each of us is trying to achieve our own personal versions of success. I hope we give it our all and find whatever it is we may be looking for. In all these years I have spent in school, I have read several books — so it seems appropriate to end with a quote from one. This is from John Green’s Looking for Alaska”: “​Thomas Edison's last words were, ‘I​t's very beautiful over there.’​ I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.” Thank you. 


Edward Sim, 18 | UCLA Community School

Edward Sim, a graduate of UCLA Community School. (Courtesy of UCLA Community School)
Edward Sim, a graduate of UCLA Community School. (Courtesy of UCLA Community School)
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Edward Sim is a graduate of the UCLA Community School in Koreatown, and he’ll be attending UC San Diego in the fall. This is his graduation speech:

Our school food is horrible. It’s horrible. It doesn’t taste great and it’s probably not even healthy for you. But still, for the past four years of my life I ate it every single day. And to be honest, I enjoyed every single bite. Some of you even asked me how I was able to eat it so enjoyably. The answer is simple. Gratitude. I know that there are people — tens of thousands of people in this city alone — that struggle to find a simple meal. Knowing this, every time I ate I was extremely grateful that all I had to do was [take] a couple of minutes to eat. And because I was so grateful, I was able to enjoy our school food.

The same thing about school food can be said about our lives. I have no doubt that every one of us in this room has gone through difficult times, times that are a lot like school food. It was the same for me, too.

Growing up, I never really had a father. For the first 10 years of my life, he was never there. And when I finally got the chance to live with him, I found out he wasn’t a great person. He was an alcoholic and he was abusive. So for three years, I pushed him out of my life.

Then on the day of my middle school culmination, three years later, when I was finally ready to open back up to him, I found out that he passed away a few days earlier from a heart attack.

It was horrible, even worse than school food. But much like how I felt about our school’s food, I never thought so. I never thought the life I had with my family was anything but enjoyable. That was because of the same reason I enjoyed school food so much. Gratitude.

A couple of weeks before winter break this year, I met a woman on my way to [my] internship at UCLA. Her name was Yasmin. As everyone was getting off the bus, she was asking if anyone could buy her a gift card to Target. I said yes, and on the way our conversation deepened. She told me her story, which included why she was homeless. She told me how every one of her family members either died or left within the past year. And I could just feel the loneliness and sadness emanating from her.

I have a loving mother. I have a caring sister. And I have countless family members that I can depend on whenever I need them. Knowing that there are people like Yasmin, I am extremely grateful for everything that I have and feel like I live one of the happiest lives anyone can possibly live.

Then after I bought her the gift card and we said our goodbyes, I made the same promise I always make. I promised that I will live the rest of my life fighting alongside people like Yasmin. I have to admit, I still don’t know exactly how I am going to do that. But I do know that I always make this promise because I know that everyone wants to live better lives just as much as I do. And I want all of us to move forward together. Equally and successfully.

This is what I hope for everyone here today, especially my fellow graduates. I hope that you remember to be grateful for all of the good aspects in your life — the big ones and the little ones. I hope that you make the same promise I made, not because of the recognition but because it means a stronger community. Never forget that at some point, all of us need help. And always fight alongside those who can’t fight alone. Because pausing to help someone in need, I guarantee, is a step forward for all of us.

I would like to congratulate the Class of 2016. I seriously have nothing but love for you all, and I can’t wait for our reunion.


Jeffrey Acevedo, 18 | Compton High School

Jeffrey Acevedo cheers at the podium of Compton HIgh School's graduation, moments after coming out to his classmates as gay. (Courtesy of Jeffrey Avecedo)
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Jeffrey Acevedo was the valedictorian of Compton High School. In his 10-minute speech on June 1, he decided to come out to all those gathered. “Everybody was really accepting,” he said in an interview. 

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FOR THE RECORD

11:15 p.m.: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Compton High School’s valedictorian. His name is Jeffrey Acevedo, not Avecedo.

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Life can best be compared to a book. However, in that book there are a few genres meshed into one, a handful of characters, both protagonists and antagonists, and best of all, a plot worth sharing. Despite the long read, it is our responsibilities [sic] to play the role as the author for our books and help illuminate each accomplishment, detail every memory — and most importantly, write our ending that most closely captures a life filled with contentment.

Good morning teachers, staff, parents, members of the district board and, above all, Compton High School Class of 2016! My name is Jeffrey Acevedo and I stand before you all today as this year’s valedictorian with a 4.58 grade point average. I plan to study communications on a full ride scholarship at UCLA this fall. Nonetheless, there were dues that needed to be paid in order to have the honor of speaking in front of such intellectual, inspiring individuals. I can recall the caffeine-induced all-nighters working on frequently procrastinated work, and waking up to the sound of my mother’s voice calling my name to wake up for school, and me shouting out, “Here!” in response to what I thought was my teacher taking attendance. Before I begin, I would like to share a story of adversity.

This past February, on the national holiday observed for love and affection, my family lost my great-grandmother at the age of 92. My great-grandmother’s passing was the first loss that I have encountered, thus posing a substantial detriment on my studies as I wrapped up my senior year of high school. I was very close con mi abuelita, Maria. I can recall exchanging stories with her. She would recount her treacherous journey from Michoacan, Mexico, to the city of Compton, California, and I, a hopeful teenager, would tell her about my dreams and aspirations of becoming a broadcast journalist.

Her words regarding her intentions of migrating to California will always play as my source of motivation. “Me vine a los Estados Unidos con su abuela embarazada. Vine en búsqueda de oportunidades para mis nietos y mis bisnietos.” Her journey for the search of better opportunities wasn’t for her benefit but the benefit of my siblings and I. She was my devoted supporter, always cheering for me through the times of rejoice and despair. My great-grandmother was always by my side, rooting for my achievements and reassuring me of my self-worth. When the clock struck two on the early hours of Valentine’s Day, I was awoken by the shrieks and cries of my mother and siblings. I knew what exactly happened. Mi abuelita was in home hospice and her speech incomprehensible. I wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye.

The days after her passing were, without a doubt, the most excruciating. It was the middle of my senior year, and the reason for my being was no longer present. I had begun to lose hope for finishing up my high school career strong, and was afraid to even dare think of a future without her. I was fortunate enough to surround myself with my family, friends and teachers that enabled me to get through this tragedy. School wasn’t the same ever since her passing. I will always remember the time when my teacher, Ms. Garcia, knew right away that something had happened without me having to tell her. “You’re a strong person, Jeffrey. You can get through this,” she said with tears rushing down her cheeks. This experience helped me navigate my life through obstacles that I once deemed impossible. With the passing of time, I have grown tremendously from this and I have gained the mindset needed to believe that my great-grandmother might have left me physically but spiritually she is watching over me and she is proud of me.

It is with great gratitude that I dedicate my valedictory speech in remembrance to her legacy. Para mi bisabuela, María . Su dolor, ha cesado. Mi determinación, será siempre seguir adelante en su honor. Le quiero dedicar mi discurso a usted. Esto es para ti.

I would now like to address the woman who worked restlessly to help provide for the household despite being a single mother. To my mother, thank you so much for the endless support and the acceptance you gave me once I came out to you as an individual who happens to be infatuated by members of the same sex. Yes, I’m gay!

Your unconditional love expressed to me, my four siblings, and my grandmother has given me an insight of how strong the nurturing and affection of a single mother can be during times of hardship. My successes and accomplishments thus far are solely attained for you. I am utterly grateful to have been raised by a strong woman like you. You have taught me how to voice my opinions against the unjust and how to be an all-loving, respectful person. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on, my biggest inspiration and, best of all, thank you for being my mother.

Para mi abuela Ana, gracias por el ánimo que me dio durante mis tiempos de desesperación y duda. Usted me ayudó a superar las barreras que estaban en el camino de mi éxito .Su apoyo siempre será apreciado. Estoy agradecido de tener una abuela como tú.¡Te quiero mucho!

To my siblings Stacey, Kristie, Jeremy, and Dylan, thank you for being there for me when school got a little bit overwhelming. I am grateful to have been given the ability to be raised alongside such enthusiastic, funny, and uplifting siblings. Despite any financial or emotional hardships we faced, the five of us had one another to reach out to and reinforce the confidence needed to get through life’s obstacles. I love you guys!

To my dearest teacher, mentor, friend, Ms. Garcia. I would like to thank you for being a role model and an inspiration to succeed during times of doubt and distress. Your words of wisdom and motivation helped me get where I am today, and I couldn't be any more happy to end my high school career with you as my mentor. Thank you, Ms. Garcia. I would also like to thank Ms. League, Ms. Hodgson, Ms. Terry, Ms. Adams, Ms. Scott, Mr. Gaerttner and Mr. Irondi for being the best staff in Compton High School! You few are really diamonds in the rough.

Surviving high school just wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a few of my friends who made it a little less sucky. Therefore, I would like to thank the following people; Jessica Tellez, Santiago Eaglefeather Martinez, Brenda Mayorga, Samantha Garcia, Janelle Valladares, Michelle Farias and Jasmine Garcia, whose 18th birthday is today along with her twin brother, Jason Garcia! Happy Birthday you two! Thank you for giving me a social life and getting my mind off of things that aren't related to school.

And finally, to Compton High School’s graduating Class of 2016: We did it. With four years in the making, we all have worked diligently and restlessly to get where we are today. I can just remember our first day of freshman year, back when we needed 1,384  days until graduation, I had met a few friends that I now deem as family. And on 1,227 days left, I ran into Ms. Garcia’s door in front of the entire fifth period Geometry Honors class in an attempt to avoid the notorious tardy sweep. On 997 days, I had forgotten to label the mitochondria on my plant cell for my Biology project and I was angrily shouting it out to everyone present in the courtyard in the early morning. Eight hundred and twenty two days, a few brave souls and I took our very first AP exam that we totally bombed. Six hundred and four days, we began to hear word about college and life after high school, it was the unfamiliar. Two hundred and twelve days, Janelle, Jasmine, Sam, and I hesitantly sat in on our first AP Calculus summer preparation session.

On 151 days left until graduation, Cynthia decided to start a tweet counting down what felt like a lifetime until we were “officially” declared as adults. Twenty days left, we took part in our last AP exams. Four days, we went to prom and spent the night soaking in the reality. ONE DAY, the night before graduation, I am writing this speech just HOURS before we walk that stage and grab a paper that distinguishes each and every one of us as a high school graduate. WE made it!  It’s OK that we might have been scared or even nervous to start a new milestone in life back on that first day in August of 2012. It’s normal for one to feel intimidated. Now that those 1,384 days have come and gone, we must take the time to reflect on the hardship that attempted to knock us over and instead be proud of the accomplishment we are sharing today. 

However, I would not only like to address and commemorate my fellow Tarbabes who sit before me, but rather I would like to take the time to praise every student who took part in our four years of high school. Whether they are graduating today or next year, any student who took part in making these past four years of our adolescence memorable should be remembered. High school was, indeed, a learning experience. It was a time reserved solely for growth and challenges, friendship and heartbreak, loss and adversity. Each and every one of us had our moments of jubilation and unfortunate tribulation, but that hasn’t deterred us from striving towards our goals.

Just because we are from Compton doesn’t mean that we are any less entitled to achieve anything we set our hearts to. We are educated. We are worthy. It is now our time to continue on with our stories and pave the way for our successes, to prove to ourselves that we can thrive. And we will thrive. Compton High School Class of 2016, we made it!


Jamie Kolbrenner, 17 | Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

(Courtesy of Jamie Kolbrenner)
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Jamie Kolbrenner is a West L.A. native graduating from the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, known as LACES, one of L.A.’s most in-demand magnet schools. She will attend Loyola Marymount University, and was one of the high school’s graduation speakers this year. 

Hey LACES, we need to talk. I'm sorry to tell you this but we need to break up. I know, I know this is hard. But, I need to tell you something, LACES. In our five years together we've had some lows, but most importantly we've had our highs — like the orange chicken and chow mein at the Halloween festival, when you have toilet paper and paper towels in your bathrooms and winning the girls soccer Los Angeles city championship in 2015.

These experiences were amazing, but the experience that the LACES Class of 2016 will embrace the most are the life lessons you have taught us. Lessons that we, no matter the range of our high school experience, will use in college and beyond. These lessons are learned by breaking the stereotypes our generation faces every day. Since our class has uniquely grown up in the dawn of the digital age of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, society teaches us that if there is a screen glowing onto our faces, we are social-media obsessed and lazy.

This reputation comes with stereotypes that might make us take a step back and ask: Is my generation really “lazy”? The answer is: No. Could some of us at LACES really be lazy if we won a science bowl, made it to the city mock trial finals, won the L.A. city championship for boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, girls Volleyball and girls Soccer, or if 100% of students at LACES take an AP class? 

My class and I aren’t just gluing our eyes to our phones to watch the latest Snapchat of Austin Moore arguing passionately about a topic in class, but we are looking to our phones to influence all of our futures. Austin may be entertaining to watch, but we, at LACES, are empowering ourselves, and others through the use of devices. With constant information being uploaded every second to a rectangle we can hold in one of our hands, we ask ourselves constantly: How can I use my fingertips to make an impact in this world? This is all thanks to you, LACES.

LACES, we were taught by you to defy the standards that come with society’s standards of a “millennial,” whether that be lazy, or materialistic, or the worst generation to ever face the planet, ever. It is indeed up to us, instead, to exemplify the LACES stereotypes we have been taught. LACES students look to the future (it is a college prep school, after all), we take on an insane amount of coursework (we are the #1 school in LAUSD after all), and we do it all with major success.

LACES, you have provided us the foundation to teach us that we must feel empowered to do more. That empowerment must be our generation’s stereotype. That we must have substance in our life, we must move onto our next endeavor with pride ... and to most of all, make a change while doing so. You taught us that we can make a change, LACES, and it all starts with the tips of our fingers.  

And on the bright side, thank you LACES for incidentally introducing me to my next love: college! It's like you almost wanted me to leave you for someone better? Weird. However, you know what they say, LACES. If you love something let it go — and if it returns, it was meant to be. And I have a feeling you'll return in my life for many years to come. Thank you.

Video reporter Callaghan O’Hare contributed to this report.

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.


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