Alexandria Good morning family, teachers, administrators, and fellow graduates of the T.C. Williams class of 2013! I’m honored and very nervous to be speaking to you all today. A little background: they don’t tell you that you’re going to officially be giving one of these speeches until about two days before graduation. To prepare for this speech, I did what any teenager would do — I searched “best high school graduation speeches” on YouTube, and procrastinated for an hour or so by watching other people’s speeches. I saw a girl rap her speech, and a guy give his as an extended metaphor about Pokemon. The weirdest one involved a girl doing ventriloquism onstage. All those speeches made me realize two things — one, I’m just not that creative, and two, TC is different from all those other schools.
Three years ago, when our grade escaped — I mean, left — Minnie Howard, we began at TC’s main campus during a tumultuous time. The state of Virginia had recently delivered the official mandate to TC to get its act together, so we were met by a new principal, new philosophy of teaching, and new confusing yet inspirational slogans like “Imagine the Titans.” What that means, I’m still not completely sure. This transformation was scheduled to take three years — the same three years that our class would be at TC As we were, in the most cliché way possible, figuring out who we are, the school was doing the same thing. And here is where one of the big differences between TC and all of those other schools from YouTube begins. In a lot of those speeches, there would be something about how the school itself shaped its students. At TC, this certainly holds true — but, at the same time, we’ve been shaping TC We, the class of 2013, have been able to be a big part of TC’s transformation. Cue the sophomores and juniors tweeting about how wrong I am, but I think in a lot of ways it’s true. It has been our accomplishments, our passions, and our improvements, that have helped shape the path that TC has taken in the past few years. And I think we can be proud of that.
In terms of the arts, we’ve put TC on the map by having students win band, chorus and orchestra competitions, national songwriting contests, and theater Cappies nominations. Our sports teams have won district, regional, and national titles — and even when we don’t win, we can always respond with the classic “I can’t hear you over our movie.” And even in terms of the ever-present metric of test scores, we’ve succeeded — our AP participation and pass rates are increasing, as are our SOL scores. Basically, class of 2013, we’re awesome. We can’t predict exactly what’ll happen to TC as it continues to transform, but I think we can make a safe guess that it’ll be marked pretty heavily by our class, and the way that we wanted our school to be while we were in it.
So yes, there are a few other things that make TC unique. From the fact that our administrators wear t-shirts that say “I wish a scholar would … be successful!” and the Denzel Washington posters all over the place to the amazing building that even Mark Wahlberg had to admit was cool, there are a lot of ways in which TC is different. TC is different, and so are our students. Instead of being told how to function in “the real world,” we learn by living in it. We represent the people, cultures, and languages of the world, all together. And it’s been us, all together, who have transformed TC So while I don’t know what’s about to happen, whether we’re going off to college, work, the military, or the Atlanta Braves, I know that we’ve already made our mark here. And I know that as we move on, we’ll continue to do so. Thank you!