As you can probably see from my posts, watching emerging young leadership is something I tend to do. A friend of mine recently sent me a welcome speech from freshmen coming into a high-school given by his son. This is a kid that I have known since 10 years ago, but have not met in the last 5 years. This window into his outlook in life and his ability to express it are something that drove me to publish this. Please enjoy this considering that this is from a precocious 17-year old.
Good evening and welcome to the families and students of the Class of 2015. Let me first start by personally congratulating you on being accepted into the Bergen County Academies; you should all be very proud of what you have accomplished. My name is Michael Macalintal, and I am a senior in the Academy for Medical Science Technology and the President of the Senior Class.
Now, my job here tonight is to preach some words of wisdom, tips on how to “survive” the next four years of your life. Don’t get me wrong, at any high school you’re going to need to know some survival tips. But remember, you’re at BCA, and we’re not like any other high school.
See, the thing you have to know about this school is that it’s a place of opportunity, where you have the chance to discover yourself, and pave your own road for others to follow. It’s a school where you will find students preparing a scene for their theatre class, finishing projects two minutes before class starts, burying their heads in SAT books, experimenting on stem cells, and singing songs with guitars by their lockers. BCA is a place where respect isn’t born from being the most popular, or having a face like Brad Pitt; it comes from having the drive and motivation to be the very best that you can be. It is not the buildings or the classes that make our school special; it is students. The students are the ones that breathe life into this school; they are the artists.
From the moment I first entered school as a freshman, a blank canvas fell in front of my feet and a paintbrush with bottles of paint were thrust into my hands. I realized then that I had to paint. Throughout each year, I worked tirelessly, combining different brushstrokes with obscene colors and figures, giving it my all to portray the perfect picture of what high school was for me. Every experience that I went through—whether it was playing and singing in a band, or running for student council, or studying late at night for a huge test—each one was painted on that canvas. Look at me now; I am an artist putting the final details on his masterpiece, ready to frame it for the world to see, and to pass that blank canvas along to the next generation of artists to come. I could have chosen to be an imitation and go the same way that every other student has before me. I could’ve chosen to be like DaVinci, and paint a portrait of a beautiful woman and go on to impact the world in all its art forms, from science and engineering, to music and innovation. Yet, I chose to make my own creation, and produce my own painting. That’s what BCA has allowed me to do. In the past four years, I have grown into a person that sees the world as a place with no limitations, only possibilities for a better tomorrow.
This, my dear friends, is the challenge that I bring to you. For the next four years, you are the new artists that have been chosen to make an impact on this world. You will be the ones to forge your own piece of art. As I said before, you can choose to be Van Gogh, and paint a starry night. You can be Picasso, and paint a boy with a pipe. Or, you can be bold, and mix yellow and brown or black with green to create odd colors that suit your taste. You can choose to not be delicate with your paintbrush and instead use your hands to create your work. At this place of wonder and awe, you can create whatever piece of art you want, you just have to be willing to do so. So I say to you, Class of 2015, paint. Paint your dreams and ambitions onto that canvas and take advantage of anything and everything that piques your interest. Take a class on Middle Eastern Policy or learn how to act; learn the laws of business or use stem cells to find a correlation between hard-boiled eggs and the common cold. Just be sure that whatever you choose to accomplish in high school, you put your full effort into it, and know that at the end of it all, you made the most of your four years here and are ready to show off your work of genius for all to see. Because if you want to make it here, you really do need to know only three things: Keep an open mind, an open heart, and always, expect the unexpected; because sometimes, life has a funny way of pointing us in the right direction. Watch as your own little canvas transforms itself into something more beautiful and original than anything you ever would’ve conceived. For even if blue and red make purple, who’s to say that the colors stop there? The colors never end, and neither do the opportunities. Thank you very much, congratulations, and good luck to you, the Bergen County Academies Class of 2015.
I am quite proud of him!
So, for the 9-to-whatevers, have the courage to express what is in your heart…