Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pottstown High School Graduation Speeches Tout Pride, Big Dreams and Unbounded Potential

Blogger's Note: The following provided by the Pottstown School District.

Pottstown High School's Class of 2019 is the school's 139th graduating class.

It is comprised of 160 graduates.

"The Class of 2019 demonstrates a spark of change in present culture," said Principal Danielle McCoy.

"They care about the environment and their community. They volunteer in large numbers to make a difference in their town and society," she said. "Beyond that, though, they have begun to look at the trades as a viable and lucrative alternative to 4-year colleges."

As we do every year, here are the speeches of the school's Valedictorian, Will Minnick, and Salutatorian, Asgar Ali.


Photo by Emily Overdorf
Pottstown High School's 2019 Valedictorian Will Minnick

Some of you may remember me from 5 years ago when I spoke to you all in 8th grade at the end of the year. From the laughs we all shared that day and happy faces I saw when I was finished, I knew that I wanted another chance to speak in front of the class four years later. Through my hardwork and dedication, I have reached my goal and let me say that it is truly my honor to be in front of you again at the end of our scholastic journey together.

Photo by Emily Overdorf
During this time we have all grown into the young adults we are today. We all come from different upbringings and have different stories but all share this building in common. Here is where I believe we truly became a family. Just think of it, most of us have spent the past 12 years of our lives seeing each others smiling faces each day at school for six hours each day. This is more than half of our young lives that we have been together.

We have had our ups and downs together, experienced different teachers, principals, and classes, grated on each others nerves, and helped each other in our darkest times. So although many of us may never had ever seen each other until three days ago at our first graduation practice, you all will always be a part of my extended family.

You all have made an impact in my life and I am truly blessed to share this point of my life with all of you. When I look at our class now all I see is endless potential and future greatness. Whether it be the next big sports star, broadway musician, recording artist, painter, doctor, actor, mechanic, engineer, or even a cosmetologist I know the class of 2019 will not disappoint. We are presented today with the
opportunity to be the next generation of alumni to write the future for Pottstown. I challenge each and every one of you, in whatever you do in your lives, to make a difference for our small town.

Photo by Emily Overdorf
Too long have we fallen victim to unfair judgement from the surrounding districts. We can be the first of many to redefine what it means to be proud to be from Pottstown.

We are now the role models for the younger generations to look up too. So whatever life throws your way, make sure you put forth nothing less than 100 percent as we all have worked too hard to not reach our dreams now.

And speaking of dreams, dream big people. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president once said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, you are not thinking big enough.” Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you find yourself off path as well. There are so many people that want to see you succeed and will be willing to help, whether it be your parents in the stands, the teachers here in attendance, or even myself. I want nothing less than to see each and every one of you succeed in life. We all deserve it and it is within our grasp. Hard work is always rewarded in the end.

Photo by Emily Overdorf
Tyler Clifford with his diploma.
We can look at our lives as one big story. We have many chapters to it, but do not let this be your defining one. There will always be times where we will fail in life and may come up short, but we need to remember that with every closed door in life another one is opened. Do not think of failure as a bad thing, it is simply a small speed bump for us to learn from.

In writing this speech I wanted to focus on the big picture for all of us as a whole. So although I may stand up here at this podium and address you as the “number one in the class,” do not let this undermine the great achievement we all attained today. No one person should be looked at as “better” tonight. We all worked hard and made it to the same point. The truth is, all that matters is that we all came into this school at the same time, and now we are all leaving together at the same time. At the end of the night we all go up to the library and get the same piece of paper. The only thing that truly separates us today is the names on our diplomas.

I would like to say how truly proud I am of all of you. I am honored to have shared so many memories over the years and thankful that I have gotten to share this part of my life with all of you. As I said before, you are all a part of my extended family now and I will never forget the impact you all had on my life. Work hard and great things will come your way. I will leave you with this statement, the same way I did in 8th grade, “Work hard in everything you do and Strive for greatness, but always remember we are the one and only class of 2019!” Thank you, god bless, and have a great night.


Photo by Emily Overdorf
Pottstown High School's 2019 salutatorian Asgar Ali get s a hug from Principal Danielle McCoy.

Light Bulb?

Good evening, parents, teachers, faculty, and my fellow classmates, my name is Asgar Ali and I am the senior class salutatorian. Class of 2019, we started from the bottom and now we’re here. Congratulations! During these past four years, I treated every decision like I was in a do or die situation. Dying wasn’t within the plans, but neither was making it, and here I am today giving a speech. 

Before I commence my address: I want to recognize the people who have impacted me throughout my educational journey. First and foremost, thank you mom, dad, Bhaiya, Apu, and Subrina for always assisting me in my endeavors. If it weren't for your typical Asian austerity yet loving support, I wouldn’t be standing here today. 

The 2019 Troiad Yearbook was dedicated to engineering teacher"
Andrew Bachman, shown here working on a class hovercraft.
Thank you Mr. Rodriguez, Mrs. Francis, Mr. Armato, Mrs. McCoy, Mr. Livengood, Mr. Delaney, Mr. Miller, our guidance counselors, our teachers, and the entire staff of the high school for being the glue that held our community together throughout my four years here.

Thank you Mr. Andrew Bachman for being an exemplary mentor to me. Some of the best memories of my high school experience has been in your presence particularly working on our model to reduce food waste in our school cafeterias, building the school kitchen in Ecuador, going to a variety of educational tours, and of course the enlightening conversations we would have as the students concocted their latest projects at our engineering workshop. 

Thank you Mr. Cal Benfield for not only making me a good writer but a better human being. Even though you always drowned us with work, I always felt a different sort of comfort in your class because of your openness and your sense of humor. 

Thank you Mr. Woodley for all the memorable times in MIS and for laughing at me when I stumbled and fell in the hallway. Thank you Madame Cherneskie and Mrs. Martinez for being such amazing advisors for our class. It has been a true honor serving as the class treasurer under your supervision. 
2019 graduate Mitchell Aquino

And lastly, a quick shout-out to my best friend Mitchell Aquino for being there when I needed him the most and teaching me to relax and live a little.

Now onto my actual address: I want to start off by asking a peculiar question. “Do you know what people and light bulbs have in common?” Well, they both have different colors, various sizes, and they are manufactured in different places. Some are dim, some are bright, some clear and some are broken. People and light bulbs both seem very different on the outside but on the inside they are the same. 

There is one current running through each bulb. In the same way, there is a singular form of energy running through each person here tonight. It doesn't matter who you are, what your race, gender, or nationality is, that’s just the bulb. Inside of that is who you really are: energy. Energy that does not have color. Energy that’s neither Democratic nor Republican. Energy that’s not Christian, Muslim, nor atheist. My fellow classmates, we are all creative, intelligent, and vibrant energy capable of doing anything we set our minds to. 
Photo by Emily Overdorf
One could make the case that parents are as happy at graduation
as the graduates...
But remember, your mind is the most powerful force you will ever face in the world. It will tell you lies. It will tell you that you’re not good enough or you cannot do something. You have to thank your mind for its opinions and carry on. Only after you conquer your mind, will you be able to accomplish all of your goals.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is a fool.” 

Class of 2019, be the genius that I know you are. Do what ignites a genuine fire within yourself. Among our small class, we have a successful Youtuber, two budding photographers, multiple extraordinary artists, athletes, and even a brand ambassador. 

Photo by Emily Overdorf
2019 graduate and blogger's neighbor Reilly Owens
has always had her own style.
We as a class have collectively improved our community and also the world. We have reduced food waste in our school cafeterias, organized the school’s first snowball, improved the lives of children in Ecuador, performed in some of the best school musicals that PHS has seen, arranged rallies against gun violence, and even created a self-sustaining garden in the courtyard. 

Class of 2019, I’m proud of all of our accomplishments. My message to the underclassmen who are present tonight is to continue this chain of impactful actions throughout your highs chool journey and continue making us proud to be from Pottstown. 

My departing message to the class of 2019 is, that we have unbounded potential. As you step into the real world, don’t be a fish trying to climb up a tree, instead, embrace the water, float freely, and create waves that will leave a lasting imprint on society. 

Thank you, and congratulations again!

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