Delivered June 6th, 1998 upon graduation from New Vista High School.
When I tell people I go to New Vista High School, they usually come up with one of three responses: "Hey, cool! How do you like it there?", "You go to THAT druggie school?", and "Where?" I then face the challenge of explaining what New Vista is.
How do you explain the difference between a New Vista class and those at another high school? "We don't take tests," is a common example. "Whoa, it is a slacker school," sometimes comes the reply. How can I convince them that I work five times as hard to get a "B" from John Zola than I do for my CU finals?
How can you explain what advisory is? "You spend four years with fourteen kids you don't like so well; you spend 2 hours a week quarreling with each other and occasionally have a picnic." "And you get credit for that?" How can I express how much I've learned about people from developing a unique love-hate relationship with all of my advisees?
And mini courses. "We spend a week each spring getting to know each other in a non-classroom setting." "Such as..." "Well, some people play golf all week, some spend the week watching movies." How do you explain the learning value of staying up all night drinking chai, playing mind games, and talking about Eastern philosophy?
We show our support for our school, not by painting our cars and wearing school colors, but by flooding the school board room to fight for our right to exist.
Graduation is not just another party, a reward for staying here four years. It's a pinnacle, the top of a mountain that we spent many hard-fought hours trying to climb.
The hallways aren't just a system of corridors, the most crowded path from point A to point B. Our hallways are a place to meet people, to make friends. Another one of those interpersonal learning activities.
To borrow from "My Dinner With Andre," New Vista is a beehive. A whole bunch of people get together, and whatever happens, happens. You can't explain it, you just have to experience it.