Senior Reflection

Observations from a 2016 Class Valedictorian

To the Class of 2016, congratulations! Just when we thought this day would never come, it has and almost out of nowhere. I was tasked with giving words of wisdom and perhaps reminisce about our times at DMAE. However, I don’t really feel qualified to tell you what to do. So I’ve decided that I would much rather share with you some observations I have made when looking back at these past few years.

First, the element of change. To explain, let me share with you a few hashtags that trended in the last year: #prayforparis, #refugeeswelcome, #blacklivesmatter, and #lovewins.

These hashtags have defined the monumental changes that we have witnessed since we began this journey. A few of these have hit close to home, making us aware that even in 2016, not all of us have equal opportunities. Through it all, we, too, have changed: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our naivety has left us, but our dreams haven’t.

My second observation is that we are constantly surrounded by people who help us and therefore, people who we must thank. So bear with me, but I will like to take this time to thank some people, starting with our wonderful teachers. I know our teachers may feel unappreciated from time to time, but this is the truth: you are the backbone of our school. The Class of 2016 would not be graduating today if it were not for your patience, support, and teachings. Thank you. And I have some shout-outs.

To Ms. Meltzer who fought tirelessly when the music department was threatened. Her passion for teaching music can only be surpassed by her unending dedication to her students. To Ms. Aronson whom I never had as a teacher but whose presence is so substantial that she has impacted students in all grades. To my unofficial mentor Ms. Clark, thank you for your advice and your guidance over these past years. To the guidance counselors, especially Ms. Rose. To the secretaries who never question why you came late to school, to the custodians who keep our classrooms clean, and to the security guards who keep our campus safe…thank you so much!

And of course, to our parents, who are probably wondering how their precious child grew up so fast; there aren’t enough words to describe how grateful we are. We can only hope that we made you proud.

Let me wrap things up with my third and final observation. A couple of months ago, I subscribed to email notifications from Bernie Sanders. If you don’t know anything about getting email notifications from a politician running for office, they are ridiculously persistent. Only my absolute admiration for Mr. Sanders kept me from unsubscribing. But a few weeks ago, after Bernie lost NJ to Hillary, I got an email from his campaign. The subject of the email was “the struggle continues.” Now, at this point, I was pretty upset that Bernie lost the democratic nomination and even more upset that Trump is actually on the ballot this November. Nonetheless, I found those three words so profound.

Class of 2016, the struggle continues. The struggle will always continue. We have so many problems to solve in our world. Responsibilities to take on. And mistakes to prevent. The pressure is greater than ever. So why am I telling you all of this? It’s not to discourage you or make you feel depressed on this otherwise very, very happy occasion, but rather to remind you that in times of struggle, there is always opportunity. An opportunity to get back up. An opportunity to do the right thing. An opportunity to make something out of our selves.

So as we head off to do new things, I wish you the best of luck, Class of 2016. It was an absolute privilege to be you all these past four years. Thank you.