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Valencia Commencement Speech: June 2013
Students, Parents, Teachers, and Friends,
It is truly my honor and privilege to welcome you this evening to Valencia High School’s 79th Commencement Ceremony. Before we continue with the ceremony, I am requesting that you refrain from using any noise-makers during the course of the evening so the names of all graduates can be heard.
Please allow me to introduce the distinguished members of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Board of Education. Please hold your applause until all have been introduced.
- Mrs. Carol Downey, President
- Mrs. Carrie Buck, Vice-President
- Mr. Eric Padget, Clerk
- Mrs. Judi Carmona, Trustee
- Mrs. Karin Freeman, Trustee
Also seated on the stage are honorable members of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District office. Again, please hold your applause until all have been introduced.
- Dr. Doug Domene, Superintendent
- Mrs. Jayne Christakos, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services
- Mr. Robert Kent, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel
- Mrs. Candy Plahy, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services
- Mr. Cary Johnson, Director of Educational Services
- Mr. Richard McAlindin, Director of Executive Services
It is my honor and pleasure to have served as principal of Valencia High School for the Class of 2013. Based upon the countless accolades and accomplishments accumulated by the Class of 2013 in the academic, athletic, and performing arts arenas; it is evident to me that this class equals or exceeds any of the previous 78 graduating classes. The Class of 2013 truly embodies Valencia’s motto of “Pride, Tradition, and Excellence.”
Academically, Valencia’s achievements continue to be impressive. During the past two months, three of the most highly-recognized publications in the nation have released their annual rankings of the top public high schools in the United States. Out of over 30,000 public high schools in the nation, Newsweek Magazine ranked Valencia 421, the Washington Post ranked Valencia 714, and US News and World Report Magazine ranked Valencia 770. Regardless of the particular ranking and the criteria employed, all three of these prestigious publications are in agreement that Valencia is in the top two percent of the high schools in the nation and one of the top ten high schools in Orange County. 2013 was yet another banner year for academic competition at Valencia.
Cumulatively, no other public or private high school in Orange County out performed Valencia in Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, and Chemistry Olympiad. Valencia’s Academic Decathlon team finished second in Orange County and 12th in California, the Science Olympiad team finished fourth in the county and 13th in the State, and the Chemistry Olympiad team placed first in Orange County for the third consecutive year. Absolutely no other Orange County high school could match the cumulative prowess of Valencia’s academic competition teams.
During the course of this spring, Valencia seniors were accepted to a multitude of nationally renowned universities. Three seniors were accepted to Ivy League schools including Dartmouth, Brown, and Cornell. Other seniors were accepted to such prestigious universities as Arizona State, Boston College, Boston U, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Creighton, Drexel, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Howard, Johns Hopkins, Lehigh, Northeastern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, St. John’s, St. Louis, Tulane, University of Arizona, U of Conn, University of Illinois, University of Oklahoma, University of Washington, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Virginia Commonwealth, William and Mary, and at least 30 other universities.
Valencia seniors will be equally represented at prestigious local universities including Pomona College, USC, Chapman, Loyola Marymount, UOP, Santa Clara, and Pepperdine. Valencia continues to be over-represented at the University of California during a trend when acceptances are being radically cut due to budget constraints and increased out-of-state and international acceptances. This year, double-digit Valencia students were accepted to the top six University of California schools highlighted by 15 to UCLA, 17 to Cal Berkeley, 27 to UC San Diego, 32 to UC Santa Barbara, and 46 to UC Irvine. In addition, Valencia continues to be one of the primary feeder high schools to California State University Fullerton. 118 Valencia seniors were accepted to Cal State Fullerton this spring.
Even more impressive is the fact that out of the 18 CSUF President’s Scholars in the entire state of California, four are Valencia Tigers. In addition, 49 Tigers were accepted to Cal Poly Pomona and those Tigers seeking a future in music were accepted to the Juilliard School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and the New England Conservatory School of Music. It is estimated that 98% of the Class of 2013 will be pursuing post-secondary studies including 45% who will be matriculating to four-year universities. In addition, 100% of our AVID seniors will be attending college next year. 81% of those students will be attending a four-year school and 91% will be the first in their family to attend college.
Collectively, the class of 2013 earned between $3.5 and $4.0 million in scholarships. However, to start college is one thing, to finish is another. I encourage all of you not to lose direction but to keep the course. Newton Baker, Secretary of Defense during World War I, once said, “The person who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.” This quote from Baker is from the 1930s, but, during the 21st century, it is more relevant than ever.
The athletic achievements by the Class of 2013 were equally impressive. Valencia Boys’ Water Polo, Cross Country, and Tennis teams captured Empire League Championships which was the 10th consecutive for Cross Country and the 7th consecutive for Tennis. The Tiger wrestling team was CIF finalists for the third consecutive year. All Boys’ varsity athletic teams advanced to the CIF playoffs. 66 Tiger athletes were named to All-Empire League teams and 5 Tiger athletes were honored on Empire League Most Valuable Players in their respective sports. 3 athletes were selected to All-CIF teams and 4 earned athletic scholarships.
2013 was also a noteworthy year for the performing arts at VHS. The Chamber Singers and Women’s Ensemble Choirs had the honor of participating in Disney’s Candlelight performance during the holiday season while the Vocal Jazz had the opportunity to sing at festivals in San Luis Obispo and Oceanside. The Orchestra Program grew to its largest size in VHS history consisting of over 200 string musicians in four distinct orchestras. It is now one of three largest programs in Orange County.
All orchestras performed at Disneyland in their elite “Community Arts Showcase” program. Both the Sinfonia and Camerata orchestras received Superior rating in 8 consecutive years at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s District Festival. The Drama program not only produced two stellar productions, Our Town and I Hate Hamlet, but also performed in the community, a holiday play for children at the Placentia Library, and collaborated with the Placentia Historical Society in performing an original play celebrating the 110th anniversary of the Bradford House.
The Tiger Regiment Marching Band ended the 2012 season ranked 3rd in Southern California in the 4A Division while the Color Guard were the 4A Field Show Champions and the Drum Line won silver medals in both winter Drum Line and Concert Percussion Competitions in the Southern California Championships. In addition, both Jazz Bands received unanimous superior ratings at the Reno Jazz Festival. The Girls’ Dance team concluded their season placing 2nd in the state in jazz at the Miss Dance Drill Team USA competition and the male hip hop team concluded the season placing first in the state in small hip hop at the same competition.
Amazingly, the Class of 2013 logged over 46,000 community service hours. One only needs to do simple calculation to realize that our seniors logged more than double the hours they were required to log to fulfill graduation requirements. UCLA coaching legend, John Wooden, once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
At this time, I would like to give special recognition to the 45 scholars dressed in white robes who are candidates for the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma and the 50 scholars dressed in gray robes who are Val Tech Diploma recipients. I would like to give further acknowledgement to the 4 scholars who earned diplomas from both programs. This honor has been achieved by only 10 students in the previous six Academy graduating classes. After only seven diploma classes, based upon completion rate and diploma recipients, Valencia’s International Baccalaureate Program is positioned to become the number one IB Program in Orange County as soon as this summer or certainly by this time next year.
Also, I would like to recognize the 67 seniors who earned the status of Collegiate Scholar, the 52 seniors who have accumulated at least a 4.0 weighted grade point average which is a school record, our two seniors who earned the elite status of National Merit Finalist, the school record 20 seniors who were honored as National Merit Commended Scholars, and the nine seniors who were accepted into Guaranteed Doctoral Programs in Medicine or Pharmacy.
I am indeed extremely proud of the Class of 2013. Your Academic Performance Index growth over the past four years; the number of AP and IB exams you took coupled with a cumulative increase in pass rates each of the four years; your numerous academic, athletic, and performing arts achievements; and the fact that 98% of you will be matriculating to post-secondary studies including 45% to four-year universities, makes me proud to be principal of Valencia High School.
Whether you transition to a four-year university, a junior college, a technical school, the labor force, or the six of you joining the military; I am confident that we have taught you the skills necessary to be successful. We have taught you to communicate effectively, to think critically, to be industrious, to manage your time, and to apply technology to the real world. In addition, we have taught you to be independent; however, more importantly, we have taught you the value of collaboration. Regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, religion, language, or socio-economic status; you have learned to work together to achieve common goals. Trust me; these skills will serve you well during the 21st Century.
In closing, I want you to know that the faculty and staff of Valencia High School will always hold fond memories of the Class of 2013. I wish you the very best of luck in your future endeavors. Possibly the best advice I can give you is to find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. But always keep in mind, that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
It is now time for you to leave Valencia High School. I encourage you to shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
“Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.”
Back to School Days Registration Begins August 19th: Put it on your calendar now
South Coast Photographic Took Photos at Graduation!
You may view and order prints online at: www.southcoastphotographic.com/buyshots/
Watch Graduation Live on the Internet TONIGHT! Class of 2013!
Join us at 5:50 p.m. tonight, June 13th for the Class of 2013 Graduation.
Follow the link in this message. You must have "Flash Player" in order to view the live stream.
Official Val Tech Photos to be taken on Thursday, June 13th.
The official Val Tech graduation pictures will be taken on Thursday, June 13 in front of the VHS cafeteria. All Val Tech diploma candidates must meet at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 13 in front of the VHS cafeteria.
IB Candidates Photo on Thursday, June 13th at 4:30 at the Cafeteria
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