Equally passionate about academics, arts, athletics, service, and leadership, Angela graduates as a member of the Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, and French Honor Society; and as a recipient of the Global Scholars Award and the Dr. Larry Brown Science Award. Last year she won the Thrall Junior Leadership Award. She plans to study biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Good morning, everyone! It is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to speak in front of you all and celebrate Morgan Park Academy’s Graduating Class of 2019. Thank you all for coming.
One may think that it would be easier for someone who attended the same school for 15 years to write such a speech. Despite being on stage many times, this speech has been, by far, the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever had to do, because I could not find the perfect way to capture the epitome of our high school experience. There are so many memories, people, and places that are all incredibly significant to our high school careers that it is simply impossible to fit them all in a single speech.
So, naturally, instead of actually sitting down and writing this speech, I went on my phone and watched YouTube. The following information gave me an idea.
In 1977, NASA launched both Voyager 1 and 2, which contained a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk, known as the Golden Record. On this disk, there are carefully selected sounds of the world, ranging from the sounds of rain and crickets during the nighttime, to music by Bach and Beethoven. There are images of wildlife, people, and objects familiar to all of us on earth. The Golden Record was made to represent our planet, our home, so that one day when it is discovered, anyone or anything who has obtained it will then have a pretty good guess of what our world is like. At this moment, however, Voyager 1 and 2, along with the Golden Record, are still drifting aimlessly in outer space.
Now, you may be thinking, “How on earth is she going to make a connection between space and high school?” This is an odd opening for a valedictory speech. However, I made the connection that this speech is similar to the purpose of the Golden Record, except, with the purpose of providing a summary of our four years of high school and instead of some extraterrestrial being hearing it, you all are. Of course, a reflection of four years of a high school class cannot possibly compare to a reflection of the magnitude of human nature, but it is still pretty challenging.
I decided that the absolute best way of describing our class, and essentially Morgan Park Academy, is to call it a family. There is really no other way I could describe it, and I can assure you that not many high schools can feel that way. Being at such a smaller school allows us to make unforgettable memories with both classmates and teachers, and create relationships that would last a lifetime. Whether you are here for one year or 15 years, you are always a part of this family and its love and support. This school has undoubtedly shaped each and every one of us to be the amazing individuals we are today, and for that, we are truly grateful.
If you started at Morgan Park Academy as a preschooler, your teacher would teach you the most important, most essential phrase you would need to get through life and become a good person: “Be kind and do your best.” If Morgan Park Academy had its own Golden Record, this would be its title. “Be kind and do your best.”
These words stuck in my head during my whole time here at MPA, and even though many of us here on stage have attended this school for only a few years, I can honestly say that each of us has exemplified this short, yet incredibly meaningful phrase. In addition to being some of the most compassionate, helpful, and supportive individuals I have ever met, they are all incredibly talented and successful, in academics and various passions. Among us are the doctors, actors and actresses, music producers, engineers, teachers, businessmen and women, environmentalists, and advocates of the future.
Being one of the smallest graduating classes, with a whopping total of 23 students, it was a blessing to have the opportunity to spend so much time with my second family. The incredible diversity of cultures, backgrounds, and passions of this class have made a lasting impact on this school and its future. They continue to inspire me with whatever they do. I am confident that, wherever they are and whenever, each of them will succeed in pursuing their own passions and make the world a better place.
Our teachers, staff, and administration are our second parents away from home, and words cannot describe how thankful we are to have them in our lives. As Upper School students, we have had opportunities to work with administration and staff for school events and occasions.
I would like to especially thank Mrs. Drown, Mr. Drahozal, Mrs. Sheppard, and Mr. Hermosilla, for greatly helping us in Student Council and for all that you do to make Morgan Park Academy the great school it is today. Thank you, Ms. Yvonne, Mrs. Williams, and Ms. Allie, for always greeting everyone with a smile, and thank you, Ms. Beata and Ms. V., for making our campus gorgeous each day. We all appreciate everything you do for our school. Because of your hard work and dedication, we are all here today.
Every teacher at Morgan Park Academy, whether they teach Lower, Middle, or Upper School, has a genuine, real love for their students and will do anything it takes to see them succeed, not only academically, but as a good person. They have raised us to be globally aware, to approach life with an open mind, and to not be afraid to challenge our own ideas. In addition to learning course material, we would often have class talks about the future, how we were mentally, and how we felt about graduating this year. Each teacher has given us advice and support that we will carry with us as we move onto college, and they will always be there for us whenever we may need.
They have helped us, especially, when times are difficult, whether it is a challenging math problem in AP Calculus (thank you Mr. Goehmann), translations in French (thank you Madame), a 30-page paper in AP Comparative Government and Politics (thank you Mrs. Fahey), or an AP Literature essay that we procrastinated on and had Ms. Concannon, one of the most understanding teachers I have ever known, give us an extension (thank you Ms. Concannon).
I would also like to thank Coach O, who is leaving Morgan Park Academy this year, for all that she has done during her many years of teaching physical education here. She was one of the many teachers, if not the best one, who stressed the importance of the MPA Way, “Be kind and do your best,” in not only gym class, but in everything we do.
This year, there was one moment in particular that showed me how incredibly blessed I am to have such caring and loving teachers. The day we arrived back from our South Korea Global Learners Trip this year was also the day when many college decisions were released. I am positive that everyone who is graduating here today, and even all of you, can agree that rejection is hard. When receiving a rejection letter from my dream school — I will admit — I was devastated and started crying. The college process is undoubtedly stressful, and everyone here would agree.
As we were picking up our bags from the baggage claim, Ms. Yoon saw that I was upset and approached me. Initially, she thought that I was so incredibly sad that we HAD to come back to America after one week of being in South Korea and comforted me. After I told her about my college rejection, she gave me a hug and said, “Everything will be okay.” And that stuck with me.
Thank you, Ms. Yoon, and thank you to all of the teachers. With your love and support, everything will be okay despite any struggles or challenges we may face in our next journey.
Our senior class would like to especially thank our advisors, Ms. Concannon, Ms. McAlister, and Mrs. Drown, for taking care of us during our four years of high school. You have done so much for our class, by being our mentors and friends, for ensuring that our senior year especially was memorable, and for making sure that we all graduate. Thank you. These types of personal relationships with teachers seldom occur in high schools, especially much larger ones, which is why I, and all the graduates, are thankful to have such wonderful people to keep in touch with in the future.
To our parents and siblings: We really cannot thank you enough for the love that you have for us, for the sacrifices you have made for us to be here in front of you, and for your endless support. I would like to say thank you to my own parents, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, having to leave both family and friends in order to start a new life of opportunities for Andrew and I. Thank you, Papa, for working incredibly hard to support my education, and thank you, Mama, for teaching me to trust in God and live in the present moment. Thank you, Andrew, for always studying next to me and for being my biggest fan.
Our families are the ones who have set us on the path to this journey of high school and you will continue to guide us in all our future endeavors. The lessons, morals, and beliefs that you have taught us throughout the years have been ingrained in our memory, and they will stay there for a lifetime.
So, graduates of Morgan Park Academy’s Class of 2019, this is it. The day that we have all been working towards ever since we first set foot on campus. All of our blood, sweat, and tears have finally paid off, and it’s time to move on to our next journey. This is only the beginning.
However, as we leave high school, I am sure that the memories and experiences we all have had will stay with us for a good while, as they have lead us to be the people we are today. I’d like to think that each of us, not just the graduates, has our own imaginary golden record playing inside of our heads, filled with experiences that shape our identity. Whether they are good or bad, they are the memories that have created our beliefs, our personalities, and our passions.
And as we all travel into the unknown, or into our college careers, our pasts that have shaped us will be the basis on how we approach life, be kind to others, and do our best. I am certain that Morgan Park Academy is a part of all of our golden records.
Congratulations, Class of 2019. We were born to make history — thank you for being a part of mine.