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Valedictorian & Salutatorian



Speeches Delivered By Graduating Students

valedictorian albert celebration
salutatorian lovoi ceremony

Graduating ASA valedictorians and salutatorians have something inspirational to share with their peers during their graduation ceremony. Read below for speeches and more.

Click on a year to view the speeches given by our graduating students of that calendar year

Class of 2016

  • Valedictorian: Alec Born
  • Salutatorian: Kushal Kuchibhotla

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 29, 2016 at The Hilton Houston Westchase Hotel.

Valedictorian Speech By Alec Born ‘16

Good evening everyone. This is ASA’s 48th Annual Graduation Ceremony. 48 years sure is a long time. Back in 1968 when the school first opened, Mr. Arnold was here every day, and Mrs. Rameau was in diapers; now, the opposite is true.

I’m proud to be a graduate of ASA. It’s one of the few elite high schools that remains undefeated in every single sport. Another great experience we have shared at ASA has been avoiding cafeteria lines by ordering out for lunch every day. Rather than the staff delivering us food on a tray, we’ve had Trey, the sandwich guy, delivering food to the staff.

When I was told that I needed to write a speech for this ceremony, I began thinking of possible words of wisdom I could pass along to my fellow graduates. When reminiscing about the past four years, I kept thinking back to one of the great things that ASA offers—the four-day school week. Those days off were used by the students for so many great things, and they proved to be a very important part of each student’s development. For me, it was great developing my ability to do absolutely nothing on those Fridays. So fellow graduates, my advice to you is to try to recreate that when choosing your college class schedules.

But seriously, students at ASA are taught to work hard and are given the tools necessary to achieve their academic goals. Those who choose to apply these tools are equipped to succeed in the future. We all have the ASA teachers and staff to thank for that. My hope is that all ASA students return the favor and strive to make ASA proud to have us as alumni.

I’m hoping that many years from now I’ll come back to ASA for a visit and see many of the same faces I see today. Nowadays, when people go back to visit their old schools, there is a pretty good chance they’ll find, in the school’s place, a parking lot or a shopping mall. Given our tight security, surveillance cameras, and small rooms, there is a pretty good chance that ASA will become an insane asylum—even more of one than it is now.

Congratulations to the graduates and their families. And a special thank-you to the teachers and families who have supported us over the years.

Salutatorian Speech By Kushal Kuchibhotla ‘16

Kushal Kuchibhotla

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and the batch of 2016 to the commencement ceremony of the ASA class of 2016. I feel truly honored and humbled to be here at the podium, an event I never dreamt of in my life.

Today is the day of celebration, reflection and of looking forward to the future, the culmination of years of hard work in school. The most awaited day of schooling life, a day one eagerly longs for, as we go through middle school and initial years of high school, waiting to graduate, to hold the prestigious diploma and set forth into the world, eager to paint the vast canvas of our lives in our own way, to enjoy the privileges, freedom and independence. However, little did we realize then that going through the senior year would be a game of seesaw, up and down, as we made it working through grades, the process of college applications, the anxious wait for colleges to respond, trying to balance fun, academics and most importantly TIME.

It is rightly said that Time and tide wait for no man and indeed the past four years of high school seem to have just whizzed by and I can scarcely believe that the schooling years have come to an end and we are on the threshold of entering another exciting and challenging phase of our lives. The journey so far has been like a roller coaster ride with twists and turns, thrills and fears: as we strive to meet the goals we set out for ourselves. There were many people who have nurtured us and like sculptors hammered and chiselled us into shape, patiently and untiringly, chipping away the unwanted, so that we can be the best and strive for excellence as we embark the next part of our journey to explore our interests, live our dreams and carve a niche for ourselves.

“Life is a transition from one form to another---” (Leo Tolstoy) and each transition and change is an opportunity for growth. However, how we navigate through it depends on how we deal with it. For me having studied in a big school but in a small country, Kuwait, I always longed to study in a big country with opportunities where I can thrive and two years back I was fortunate to be able to move to Houston.

Having got admission in St.Thomas High School, I was however told that ASA would be a better fit school for me considering my medical condition. The first day I came to ASA, I was skeptical when I saw the size of the school and boy as I took a tour of the school, the fastest tour I have ever been on I must say, doubts assailed me. It was a complete contrast to my earlier school and I wondered if I could ever fit into such a miniature form of school. For a moment I just wanted to get back to Kuwait back to my comfort zone.

But the warm welcoming smile of Ms. Monique, and the encouraging words of Ms. Rameau as we worked on my course details put me at ease and gave me some glimmer of hope. I must admit now studying here has been the best thing that could have happened in my life and I feel truly proud to be an ASA Aces today.

My journey so far has been made possible due to several people who like angels have stood by me, encouraging, motivating and supporting me all the way to dream big. I acknowledge my gratitude foremost to the Almighty for His grace and blessings, to my family, for their love, support and endeavors to ensure I have a happy, healthy life.

I also acknowledge my gratitude to the wonderful dedicated teachers and peers around me who have left an imprint and impacted my life, and I am sure everybody’s life in some way or the other. I had something to learn from each one of you.

I would not have made it so far but for the patience and understanding of Ms. De Le Garza who put up with my last minute dashes to meet deadlines, all the teachers each one of them having inspired and given us opportunities to grow and maximize our potential. You have taught us to be creative, think for ourselves and become responsible persons. Mrs. Johnson, you kindled my interest in social sciences, a subject I was not fond of, but thanks to you I began to enjoy history, knowing the way the economy works or a government runs. Mr. Flanagan thank you for keeping alive my interest in Calculus, my favorite subject, and silently motivating to learn over and above the structured course, Ms Frew for the good times we had in your speech class, Mrs. Kennedy, Ms. Weller, Ms. Garcia, for always being there, encouraging and showing me that regardless of the circumstances one can succeed.

I am truly grateful to Ms. Demmer for being a guide, mentor and helping me to adjust to the new surroundings and culture. I have enjoyed and learnt immensely from your classes. Your innovative and creative teaching techniques has opened up a whole new world for me to explore.

As we forge ahead in our lives one can never forget the strong foundation laid by each one of you. Life has no road map and the skills and the abilities we have developed here will stand us in good stead and help us to reach for the stars and keep the ASA flag flying high.

Last but not the least I would like to thank Mr. Arnold, with whom I had the pleasure and honor to interact recently and I am truly impressed sir by your acumen, foresight and your life story. Your mission to provide a unique learning experience par excellence is inspiring and we are indeed honored to be part of this institution that nurtures the talents of each student and provides opportunity to tap their potential and pursue their dream of getting a good education alongside.

I congratulate all my batch mates and wish them many more successes and achievements in life as they move ahead blazing their own trail. Although things end, and we part ways, memories last forever. Today also marks the beginning of a new phase for each one of us. The wonderful times we had together will always bind us wherever we are.

Thank you everyone for taking time to grace this occasion and for your patience.

Class of 2015

  • Valedictorian: Amberlea Tribble
  • Salutatorian: Zishuai Wang

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at The Hilton Houston Westchase Hotel.

Salutatorian SpeechBy Zishuai Wang ‘15

Good evening. My name is Zishuai Wang. I am an international student from China. It is my first and only time to stand here and talk to you. Today is important because we are graduating.

Can you believe that? We are about to leave ASA and go to college. I have been at ASA for a year and a half. I can still remember the first day I walked into the hall and met with my teachers and classmates. I was nervous as we were the first day of our freshmen year. It is a long and short 18 months (and for some of us it’s 4 years). It is long because of all those reading and writing homework, assignments, tough quizzes, texts and exams that we take in high school; it is short because of those memorable moments that we spend with our kind teachers and lovely friends.

Now I am nervous and afraid of the challenges of the future. I did not spend as many hours as some of us did studying; I cannot speak fluent English like native speakers; I did not master math or science as our teachers did. I am afraid that I will never have a one-on-one class again; I am afraid that I will never have those spirit days again; I am afraid that I will never have a birthday party which is celebrated by all of my teachers and friends. Today we are graduating, and I believe that most of us are as nervous as I am right now.

But today I want to say that there are two parts of life: the day in the past is a dream; the day in the future is a hope.

So my friends, don’t be afraid. Just remember that we have done an excellent job in high school; we have earned so many rewards; we have learned useful knowledge which will help us for our future life.

Don’t be afraid. Just remember those beautiful days that we spent with our teachers and friends. They will be the most precious memories in our life.

Don’t be afraid. Just remember that we have friends all over the world. From now on, wherever we are, we will always get help from our friends. If you go to China someday, I will be so happy to be your guide and translator for free.

Now it is time to say thank you to all of our teachers. Thanks for teaching us and helping us see what we can be.

Also thank you to our parents. Thanks for raising us and bring on out the best in us.

And to all students, I would like to say congratulations for a job well done. No matter whether you get your rewards or not, please keep working hard and never give up. Remember that our teachers are always here to answer your questions. Believe that those tough homework and assignments will help you have a better understanding of the study. Realize that it is the best opportunity that you sit in a small classroom and concentrate on studying. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. You will stand here and receive you rewards again next year.

And I would like to say thanks to all of us, class of 2015. Thanks for working hard in the past year. Please keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground, get ready for an unexpected journey in to a wonderful world.

Thank you.

Valedictorian Speech By Amberlea Tribble ‘15

Amberlea Tribble

No valedictorian speech given

Class of 2014

  • Valedictorian: Johnathon Vermaelen
  • Salutatorian: Jessica Hyams

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel.

Valedictorian Speech by Johnathon Vermaelen ‘14

Johnathon Vermaelen

Good evening everyone. Thanks for being here tonight. First of all, I would like to congratulate all the seniors at Alexander Smith Academy for making it this far on their journey toward their future. Also, I would like to thank the staff and administration for all of their help and support that they have given all of us.

Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is better than knowledge.” This is true for all of us as our imagination allows us to think outside the box, be original and creatively solve problems. So keep an open mind as you face challenges in the future in order to solve problems in an unexpected way. So having brains won’t carry you as far as creativity…that’s a good thing for some of us.

Growing up, I would watch Pokémon every day after school. It was about a boy who leaves home to travel, to learn and to develop his skills. The boy leaves home with only a backpack, makes friends and faces many challenges along the way. This show comes to my mind as all of us seniors step out into the world where we will make new friends and face new challenges.

The theme song for this show has many messages that we should all learn from. For instance, “I want to be the very best that no one ever was.” It may seem like an arrogant thing to say, but there’s a deeper meaning behind it. To be the best that no one ever was, you have to be yourself. After today, I hope all of us seniors will continue to push ourselves and become the best person we can be in whatever field we choose. To quote my Dad...uh, I mean Yoda “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda’s point is to remind us to commit ourselves to something completely…win or lose.

Another line from the theme song says, “I will travel across the land searching far and wide, to find the power that’s inside.” It may not seem like it but we are all searching for something. It could be happiness, success, friendship, love or a million other things. If you are looking for something, please understand that it may not be in the outside world but may be inside you. Be who you are and you will find that power in your heart. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."

Additional lines in the song also say, “A heart so true, our courage will pull us through. You teach me and I’ll teach you.” This makes me think of how we students help each other when we don’t understand something, or when we hang out in the break room and learn from each other. Sometimes it’s about school, sometimes it’s about cars. Sometimes it’s about homework, sometimes it’s about video games. We all need to continue to teach each other and learn from each other. However, there are some things I’ve learned in the break room that I wish I could forget.

Another line in the song says, “Every challenge along the way, with courage I will face, I will battle every day, to claim my rightful place.” We seniors will leave this school today as young mature adults. We know life will be difficult and we are not entitled to the easy life. So with respect to Mrs. Rameau, we take the road less travelled.

So as we graduate from Alexander Smith Academy, we may all head in different directions, but hopefully we will all travel together making the world a better place. To quote Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." Thank you and have a great evening.

Salutatorian Speech By Jessica Hyams ‘14

Jessica Hyams

Good evening

ASA is a community within itself, filled with wonderful individuals from all over the world. We all come from different backgrounds and await different futures but we have come to know each other and grown together with a unique ASA bond that as we leave this wonderful school will last with us a lifetime.

It has been a long four years and a short four years. I can still remember my first day at ASA, I had recently moved to Houston from Australia and was experiencing a completely different lifestyle and culture. It was exciting but also extremely frightful. The first couple of days I was asked an endless amount of questions like “What’s it like in Australia?”, “do you have internet there?”, and “do you ride Kangaroos” of which the answer is ‘crikey of course we do’. I was so nervous to start school as I hadn’t been the new kid for 6 years, but these feelings were quickly subsided as I was warmly welcomed into the ASA family.

Whatever your experience has been here, and hopefully they were good ones, we will always remember this place and this time in our lives that we have shared. As Dr Zeus said, ‘don’t cry that they are over, smile because it happened’. While I’m thrilled to be graduating, I can’t say I’ve spent as many hours as some of you have between these halls: Our teachers, of course, spend an inhuman amount of time here, and many students do as well. And what’s truly amazing is most of them do it of their own choosing.

Just for graduation

Why? Because they have found their passion. That’s the challenge to us leaving here today. To find our own passion and follow it. I suspect if you look for it you will find it in the things that motivate you from the inside and not external things like wealth, popularity or influence. Discovering and acting on your passion will make you truly happy in life. This will be your real treasure. And in your circumstances, whatever life situation you find yourself in, if you think you are too small to be effective think again, you obviously have never gone to bed with a mosquito in your room.

It takes teamwork to survive anywhere in life. I’ve found and I am thankful to have ASA on my team. I know my experience is limited, but every problem I’ve overcome has been because of someone supported me through it. Support is definitely an area that excels at ASA. There will always be someone to talk to no matter how big or small your issue.

After graduation when we leave high school to pursue our futures, our paths for most of us are likely to diverge. Some will go far away, some will stay close and a few will even move to Canada, but no matter where we are, we will all face a host of new challenges and opportunities. With each experience, we will add memories to the stages of our lives. Make them good ones. There is no limit to what we can accomplish. So embrace your challenges and make them your opportunities remembering that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Congratulations, Class of 2014. We did it!

Class of 2013

  • Valedictorian: Callum Ferguson
  • Salutatorian: Megan Heup

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 26, 2013 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2013 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Callum Ferguson '13

Callum Ferguson

This is probably the first and only time that this speech has been given by a Scotsman in a kilt!
For the avoidance of doubt this is not a dress, it is my national dress. It is not a skirt it is KILT! In addition, what is worn underneath it is a national secret.

As students of ASA, we have had a very privileged opportunity to study and learn with truly phenomenal teachers in a unique learning environment. Over my 4 years here at ASA, I have experienced a school brand of:

  •  - Small class sizes
  •  - Close student / teacher friendships and relationships
  •  - Informal dress codes - Hawaiian shirts and pajamas
  •  - And school sports that include hacky sack and ping pong

My sincere thanks to our teachers who have guided us to this day.

  •  - Math’s that became real
  •  - ;English that came alive
  •  - Science that intrigued and challenged
  •  - Art that inspired
  •  - Social studies that informed (By the way, I especially enjoyed American history as it is much shorter than the UK history that I left behind)

From ASA I will take the values of honesty, friendship, trust and hard work.

To my fellow students, I would like to firstly congratulate you on your achievements and wish you success in all your future endeavors - however big or WEE. It is important that we seize the opportunity that ASA has given us. Recognizing that this is the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new and exciting adventure, I am confident that all of us will aspire to new and great heights. As JFK said in his speech about the space race, “We do these things not because they are easy but because they are difficult”

It is appropriate at this time to recognize those closest to us - our family, friends and parents whose love, support and encouragement have carried us through the challenging teenage years. We are forever indebted for all that you have done for us. It is also important to recognize that many of the people who have supported us are not here today and we would want to thank them too. I am sure you will forgive me, if I express a special thanks to my family who has travelled thousands of miles to be here with me today to celebrate my graduation - I feel incredibly honored. Thank you will never seem enough and we must uphold your belief in us by continuing to work hard to achieve our full potential.

Now I am sure that you have heard enough from me - it is time to hand over to our school principal, Maggie De La Garza. Ms. De La Garza celebrates her 15th year here at ASA. She has been instrumental in guiding hundreds of students through their high school careers. A personal thanks for all your assistance in helping me and my sister and the ASA family through the tedious and sometimes confusing college applications. Your patience, tenacity and good humor have brightened the school and ensured that we all get into the best colleges and universities for us.

Please join me in welcoming our school principal. Ms. Maggie De La Garza.

Salutatorian Speech by Megan Heup ‘13

Megan Heup

Good evening! When I think about tonight and graduation I immediately think about Kenny Chesney’s lyrics. “I didn’t get here alone, that roads just too rough and long, I might be the one the spot lights on, but I didn’t get here alone.” I think these lyrics speak perfectly to each of our situations! The fact of the matter is none of us would be here at graduation if it weren’t for those around us. Our teachers, our administrators, our friends, and our families have been a big part of our journeys towards graduation. The teachers here are simply fantastic, it is not every day that you run across a school where the teachers can complete what needs to be done in class, but also have a good laugh at the same time! Since my freshman year I have had the opportunity to have class with Mrs. Wandix, Ms. Demmer, Mrs. Johnson, Ms. Frew, Mrs. Weller, Ms. Kennedy, Ms. Dazy, Mr. Miskell, Ms. Ball, and Ms. Rameau! Each and every one of these teachers has not only prepared me for college, but have also inspired me in some way, so I thank you all! Although I have not had class with Mrs. Garrett, Mr. Flannagan, and Mr. Arbarca I know all three of you genuinely care about your students as well, I also know that all of your students have learned so much from each of you!And to the administrators: Ms. De La Garza, Ms. McNeely, and Ms Rameau, I want to thank ya’ll as well. Without everyone’s support and guidance I can guarantee you I would not be in the position I am today. The thank yous do not stop here, aside from our teachers, our friends and classmates deserve a big thank you as well! As we all know friends are a crucial part of high school and I believe that ASA gives us the opportunity to create meaningful friendships! Our friends and classmates help us get through high school as much as the teachers do so thank you seniors! Personally, I have met my best friend and second family while going to ASA and I would like to thank them for supporting me through this crazy ride, I'm going to miss ya’ll! Finally I believe we all owe our parents and families HUGE thank yous! No matter what, our parents have supported us throughout not only high school, but also our lives from infancy to young adulthood!Throughout college and after our parents and families will always be there for us. To be honest a simple thank you is not enough, for me no words can express how grateful I am to have the supportive parents I do, I'm going to miss ya’ll! In three months we will all be moving out of our parents homes and into dorms and apartments, we will begin to live on our own and mature into adults! Before we know it we will all be graduating from college, getting married and having children of our own! No matter what direction our lives take us I know that we will all be successful in life, but as for now all we can say is we survived high school!!!Congratulations Class of 2013!! We did it!!!

Class of 2012

  • Valedictorian: Nathan King
  • Salutatorian: Cara Lewis

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 27, 2012 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2012 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Nathan King '12

Nathan King

Hi, I'm Nathan. I'd like to thank everyone here for being here and letting me thank them. Today is important because we are graduating, but it is more important because we are standing with friends who represent the future, ready to indulge in whatever path they may take. We should celebrate! Celebrate a year or less or more at Alexander Smith Academy.

Alexander smith academy has been a place where i can challenge myself and pursue studies that truly interest me. The students, teachers, classrooms, vending machines, and printers are all very friendly.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ...

I appreciate the environment Alexander smith provides. It is nice to study in the library. It is nice making tea in the morning, and I think everyone else likes the coffee. Alexander Smith Academy opened its doors to me this year, and for that I am very grateful. This close community of teachers and students is a wonderful place to be, I hope you all have enjoyed the year as much as I have.

With so many project initiated by the spirit club, volunteer service club, national honor society, and Spanish national honor society, I worry I may have trouble recognizing all of the efforts of all of the individuals that made this year possible. Ms Johnson, teachers....everyone else....

We leave Alexander Smith with the uplifting knowledge that every student benefitted their local and global community. We ALL played a part in planning and executing drives, fundraisers, and spirit days. Alexander Smith is unique in this all- inclusive approach to service and celebration. I would certainly like to celebrate the accomplishments of this year, which hint at the great things to come.

You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it. -john updike.

Salutatorian Speech by Cara Lewis ‘12

Cara Lewis

In the four years I’ve attended ASA, I have learned not only the subjects that have been taught to me, but also important life lessons. Teachers are normal people as well, life’s not always fair, and people change. I’ve changed. The most vital message I’ve received from my attendance here at the academy is that you have to fight for what you want, don’t let anyone lead you astray, and the minute you think all is lost, Mrs. Rameau gives you an “A” on a paper, and you are assured that you’re on the right path. ASA has students from all over the place, yet it is small enough that pretty much nothing is kept secret for too long. Consequently, you are required to break out of your comfort zones to establish friends and sometimes even new family members. You know you have family here when “Momma Monique” can tell your mother what class you are in and knows your day is just not going your way by one look. I know I made the right decision by attending ASA because I now know, more than ever, that you have to preserve what you believe in, earn what you demand of yourself, and don’t let anyone steal that determination away from you! Because of these lessons instilled upon us, I am confident enough to say that the class of 2012 will thrive, and hopefully not be boomerang children! Look around class, we are done, we already have succeeded by accomplishing the completion of this chapter of our lives, and now it is time to kick it into full gear and charge our dreams seeing as we now have the tools to do so.

Class of 2011

  • Valedictorian: Daniella Valdes
  • Salutatorian: Codi Robertson

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 22, 2011 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2011 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Daniella Valdes '11

Daniella Valdes

Good evening everyone, I feel privileged to stand before you to represent our senior class today. I started ASA my sophomore year and the time to graduate has come quickly. I enjoyed my time here and even though it's a small school, ASA has helped each and every one of us in some way. I wouldn't be standing here if it were not for the support of my family, ASA's wonderful teachers, and my friends. I have made life-long friends at ASA and I have ASA to thank along with a great education. In two months, I will leave for college along with my fellow seniors, and I am not sure what is ahead for me. What I hope for us seniors is to have courage and faith in whatever we choose to do in life and know that our great high school was just the beginning of what is yet to come. What is yet to come is the exciting part. Four years ago I lived in the country out in cypress and now I live in the city and have the honor of being a part of the ASA family. It has been a fun and challenging three years at ASA, but I know that I will be able to face anything that comes my way because I have those people in my life that make me strong and make me feel like I can do anything. Asa has also given me that sense of confidence. I hope that all the underclassmen enjoy their time at ASA because it goes by fast. To all seniors, remember that perception is reality so this means that we have the ability to choose how the world will envision us. Thank you.

Salutatorian Speech by Codi Robertson '11

Codi Robertson

Good evening. Tonight we are all celebrating a substantial achievement for the ASA class of 2011. I know from experience that high school is not the easiest of times, but I feel so lucky that I have gotten to share these last two years with such interesting and genuinely good people. As we go forward in our lives the one thing we get to keep is our memories. As Cesare Pavese once said, "we do not remember days; we remember moments." We remember those little moments, the ones where our emotions were tranquil and satisfied. Those moments where a person's oddities are cherished, and life's nuances are recognized. And, I sincerely hope that all of us have had many pleasant memories of our transient moments at ASA. I implore you, do not forget these moments, because in the end they are the only remnants of our past. A path of breadcrumbs that lead to the person we are in the present. To all of the teachers I have had the immense pleasure of learning from, Mrs. Rameau, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Flanagan, Mrs. Kennedy, Miss Haber, Miss Demmer, Ms. Frew and Mrs. Dazey, thank you so much for your invaluable assistance in my pursuit of knowledge. And to the administrators at ASA, Mr. Arnold, Maggie, and Monique, I thank you as well for giving me a chance and also for your permanent support. And to my classmates, thank you so much for your kindness, and allowing me to get to know you better, you are all such lovely people. Good luck in your futures, I know you will accomplish many wonderful things! Congratulations class of 2011 on a job well done!

Class of 2010

  • Valedictorian: Orion Berwanger
  • Salutatorian: Virginia Albert

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 23, 2010 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2010 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Orion Berwanger '10

Orion Berwanger

Hello everyone, my name is Orion "the barbarian" Berwanger, and while you guys listen to me, without a doubt, many of you wish you could've looked this good at your high school graduation, powder blue is coming back, even though it's a little tight. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak for and to represent our class today. However, that is a lot to ask. Although our class is particularly small, it is filled with a variety of unique and … lets say special people. Each of us comes from a different background, each of us brings a different perspective to the collective whole. But we form a close-knit group. Every Monday through Thursday, we wrestled with the terrible temper of Mrs. Rameau, we struggled with the psychotic cell phone policy, and we pushed for more time on our papers.

And we succeeded. We're not just here today because our parents want paying for college to be a cut back, we're here today because we successfully passed four years of high school. We clawed and we scratched our way here, and now we get to reap the benefits. We get our high school diplomas, our invitations to the future. With it, we can move on towards college, towards our successful pursuits in life, but much more importantly, some wicked graduation parties. But we didn't get here alone. Our families and friends provided the necessary support for us to succeed, and all of us need to thank them. But ASA, I don't know what it's going to do now that we're gone. I mean, our class was kind of just better then everyone elses. Might as well close shop. But I do want to thank ASA, for all the help they gave me. I'm lucky that my Mom was able to find somewhere tailored to help students succeed. As a closing statement, I just want to say that these past two years at ASA have been my best so far, and I look forward to seeing all of you in the future to hear about your successes in college. Peace!

Salutatorian Speech by Virginia Albert '10

Virginia Albert

As I stand here before you today, I see a variety of smiling faces who have supported me throughout this journey at Alexander-Smith Academy. Look at how far we've come, the friendships we've made, the lives we've changed, and what we've accomplished! And look at where we're going! Most of us are off to college next year, away from Mommy and Daddy, and finally free to stand on our own two feet. As English teacher Pam Rameau puts it, "No one will be holding your hand." From there, we'll graduate college, start a career, get married, have a family, and send our children to Alexander-Smith Academy. Only joking.

It's amazing to see what we've accomplished during our high school careers. I would like to thank everyone in the graduating class of 2010 for making my last year of high school so memorable and special. Orion, you have proved to be an incredibly hard worker, and I admire you and your math skills in Calculus. Alex A, you have been, well, funny. Your humor and wit never ceases to amaze me. Madison, that's awesome that you're a published poet. Andrea, I when I first met you as Gillian's bat mitzvah partner in 6th grade, I have thought you were one of the most loyal people I've ever met. Vincent, your dry wit and sense of humor, coupled with Alex's more obvious sense of humor brightens my day. Jessica, you are hilarious. You have certain catch phrases, such as "that's awkward," or "that's stressful," that whenever I hear them, I will think of you. Serena, I enjoyed our time hanging out during your break period. I hope you know when I tease you it's out of friendship. Lauren, you're such a good singer! I heard you singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in Mrs. Rameau's class and I couldn't believe it was you. I guess I could. You have so much heart and you're such a fun person. Taylor, you're an incredibly strong person and you'll do great in life. Alex Martinez, I remember when I met you at one of the Camp Stewart Camp Mystic dances. I remember thinking, "that kid is tall." and then I saw you every year after that, and we always talked. Will, I hope that you do well wherever you go and shine in whatever you do! Brenda, your resilient attitude shows that you can go through hard times in life, but remain strong. Sean, or as you told the lady from Loyola in New Orleans, Seen, I have come to appreciate your humor and hope to see you someday on the stage of SNL, following in the footsteps of all the SNL greats. Annie, I really hope you change the world someday! Your strong beliefs and convictions inspire others to do good in the world. James, I have come to the conclusion that you are the most frat-tastic person in the graduating class. You never wear jeans, you always wear polos and sunglasses, and you can be seen carrying a red Dixie cup walking in the door almost every day. You're a really nice person, and it's crazy that you used to go to Kinkaid. Evan, how awesome is it that you're going to play college baseball. When I get older and see you on TV, I can tell my friends that I went to school with you and backed into your car! Paige, I'm really happy that you came to ASA last year. I hope to see you in Austin next year. When I first enrolled in ASA, it was after an incredibly tough semester at Kinkaid. The first two weeks of school here junior year, I just didn't care. After having a 13 in AP English, I realized that I needed to get my act together. I remember ed my dreams of attending a prestigious university, and I looked at my situation and laughed. So i made a pact with myself that I would try harder. I talked with Mrs. Rameau, my English teacher, about what I was thinking and all the makeup work I needed to do. I sat in my office and organized my papers into folders and made a list of the things I had to do. I still struggled from time to time, but junior year I managed to raise my semester grade 65 points in English!

Thank you my parents, for supporting me, being there, and sending me to private school all these years. Thank you to God, for with him nothing is impossible. Thank you to Maggie and Pam. Pam, I can't express my gratitude for helping me junior year. Thank you to my teachers. I think I've had all of you at some point except for Mrs. Weller and Teal De La Garza. That's ok, y'all still rock anyway. Thanks to Dave Arnold, for letting us attend school here. Dave, you should know that the most popular requested mascot was the fighting Arnolds. However, we decided to go with a more traditional route, choosing the Aces. Thanks to my friends, who have filled my life with happiness and love. I love you guys! Thanks to Monique, for reminding me on my manners when asking for a stapler. Thank you to everyone who attends school here, in some way you have changed all our lives for the better and I feel that I can speak for the graduating class when I say, "you're gonna miss us."

Class of 2009

  • Valedictorian: Giulia Saier
  • Salutatorian: Tanner Wiethorn

Valedictorian Speech by Giulia Saier '09

Giulia Saier

This is it, graduation. It is a scary thought to think that we are all going to be leaving Alexander-Smith Academy, and moving off to colleges and universities all across the country. It feels like the first day of freshman year was just yesterday. It's amazing to think it was three years ago I started at ASA. I remember my first day, sitting quietly in the break room, waiting for the bell to ring so I could go to class. All I could think was all I had to do was not fail any classes and I would be ok. I had promised my parents that I would start to try and work hard once I got into high school. It was something I said over and over again to justify not trying in middle school. I was so scared I would disappoint my parents, by not being able to do the work. I use to think that I was incapable of making anything of myself. Everything looked like it came naturally to my brothers, but for me nothing seemed to come naturally. That first year here though, something changed, I understood what we were learning and though it was hard, the teachers were there to help if I needed them. I have talked to old friends in England, and they are always amazed to hear how well I'm doing in school, and looking back on the last three years I know that the reason I was able to learn and grow at ASA is the unique learning atmosphere. I now know that even though I will always be dyslexic that I can work around my terrible spelling, and do what ever it is I want to accomplish, as long as I work hard. The teachers here are so amazing, whether you need help with homework, or if something just isn't going right out side of school, they are always there for you. I know that if it wasn't for Mr. Flanagan spending hours with me working on calculus I would not have understood half of what I know today. I have to thank Ms. Demmer for just always being there, Monique for teaching me the proper way to ask for tape. I know that without Mrs. Rameau's advice and confidence in me I probably wouldn't be standing here today. All the teachers here at ASA are truly amazing, and without there support and help we wouldn't be here, only moments away from graduating. For me ASA has opened doors, its given me the possibility to go onto a college I would have never had a chance at before, and the confidence and skills I need in order to stay in college. Mom and Dad, there is no way to sum up everything you have done for me. When ever I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or completely confused, you where there to encourage, support, and point me in the right direction. You have instilled in me an appreciation for education, which has been one of my personal motivators, and most importantly you have always been there, no matter what I decided. So today we are gathered to receive our diplomas. Our families, our friends, and our teachers who have supported us over our high school careers, are all here to see us off as we enter the next stages of our lives. Not only are we leaving ASA but we are moving out on our own, from our parents and the cozy comfort of home. There is no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring as we all work and follow our own paths. So even if you don't succeed at first, try again, and most importantly always be true to yourself. As Dr. Seuss said "be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." I know I am going miss psychology class with Mary, Joe and all of his amazing hugs, Shelby and her upbeat attitude, and everyone else in this amazing class. Thank you for making the last three years so special, I can't imagine anywhere else I would rater have spent high school. I don't have any idea what to expect next year, but I know I will always carry the memories and what I have learnt here at ASA from both the teachers and the students with me always. Class of 2009 we made it.

Salutatorian Speech by Tanner Wiethorn '09

Tanner Wiethorn

Thank you all for coming for this very special event. When I first entered ASA three years ago, it was a totally new experience for me. ASA is a unique place and its students are a unique collection of individuals from all over the city and different backgrounds. The one-on-one relationship with the teachers was a new experience for me, as well, and I quickly found out you could not blend into the crowd if you were not prepared. They would find you! However, to my surprise learning became less of a chore and more of a challenge. Thomas Edison was asked if he ever got discouraged at the number of failures when he was attempting to develop the light bulb. His response was no, I found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb. Similarly, I found, thankfully, not quite as many ways how not to do things during my career at ASA. I didn't fail, I learned ways not to do many things. With the patience of Pam, Maggie, Arnold, and many others, I and we ALL survived and are here today. Toward the beginning of this school year, I suddenly realized something. It wasn't only my last year in high school, but also my last year in Houston. At that time, I was planning to head to Austin for college. That's when I started to think about how short my remaining time was at school and with my friends. I have been told by many that I should have been the poster boy for Senioritis! I worked hard and when you see you don't have much time left you become more selective on what and how you spend that time. What is really important to you? For me, that has been my friends and I will always remember this year and the time we spent together. This year has been the best year of my life. I've done things I've never done before, because I knew I probably wouldn't have a chance to experience them again. I've done worthwhile things; things I wanted to do and things I wanted to share with others. And I managed to graduate at the same time. I am honored to be the Salutatorian of the 2009 ASA Senior class. And to my classmates, always remember you make your own future. You don't fail, you just found a way not to do something; live everyday like it is your last and always, always take care of your friends. Thank you.

  • Guest Speaker: The Honorable James A. Baker, III
  • 61st U. S. Secretary of State

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 24, 2009 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2009 Graduation Ceremonies.

David Arnold, Maggie De La Garza, and James A. Baker, III

"Dare to be a Revolutionary"


Alexander Smith Academy Commencement
Sunday May 24, 2009
Houston, Texas

James A. Baker

Ladies and gentlemen, let me start by offering my sincerest congratulations to those of you who have made tremendous sacrifices in order to reach this exciting moment in your lives. And I am, of course, including in that you parents out there whose support has made it all possible. I have great admiration for the Alexander Smith Academy, which in my book provides a revolutionary brand of education. The academy has successfully broken from the traditional cookie-cutter school format where students are required to fit the system. Instead, the dedicated faculty and staff here at Alexander Smith treat students like individuals with unique educational needs -- and that's as it should be. Our family, as I am sure is the case with every family here today, is very proud of our graduating senior. Today, all of we Bakers admire the intellectual maturity and academic curiosity Mary Baker has acquired here. And I know that Mary's story is not unique. It has been repeated time and time again by the other members of the senior class. Indeed, all of us are here tonight because Alexander Smith has had the foresight and courage to shake up the status quo in an effort to respond to the challenge of how to best educate students. And so today, I would like to present each of you graduating seniors with a challenge. Dare to be a revolutionary! It is your American heritage. Carry the values of liberty and justice forward as you tackle the challenges of the 21st Century. Am I exaggerating when I tell you that you can be revolutionaries? I don't think so. You are the children of the world's greatest democracy, one born from revolution. As disciples of democracy, you can build a future that is just and right. Listen to what Samuel Adams wrote in a letter to a friend 40 years after America won its independence. "What do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? No. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people." Adams captured the essence of the American spirit. American history has been an attempt to secure the rights and dignity of the individual. And we've done pretty well. What country has provided the greatest degree of freedom? What country has been the most generous with its resources? What country has been the most willing to defend liberty around the world? You graduates will inherit the answer to those questions. So today, I ask that each of you respect the heritage of the American experiment by dedicating yourself to its revolutionary spirit -- the effort of a united people who tirelessly strive to build a better world. Thomas Jefferson understood this spirit when he said this about Americans: "Every generation needs a new revolution" because "a little rebellion now and then ... is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government." Indeed, a revolutionary spirit is encoded in our DNA. This birthright that is passed from one generation to another makes our country and our citizens special. We rebel against the status quo when the status quo is wrong or evil. (Or, even when it just needs a little fixin'.)

If you want proof of this revolutionary spirit, look at what has occurred during only the past 20 years. We helped lead revolutions of thought, technology, and action that have changed the world for the better. We led an ideological revolution that brought a peaceful conclusion to the Cold War. We led a technological revolution that changed the way we communicate, work, and entertain. And we have supported democratic revolutions in many countries of the world. As you sit here today, consider how you might answer Jefferson's call. What will be your generation's revolution? What will be your individual revolution? Will your ideas alter today's paradigms about the way things work? Or should work? The answers to these questions are important because to solve the daunting challenges that lay ahead of this country will require revolutionary ways of thinking. Your generation will be asked to find ways to satisfy our energy needs at the same time that we improve the environment. You will be asked to craft a legal system that protects the rights of individuals at the same time that it limits the evil intentions of terrorists. You will be asked to lead the world into a new era of globalization.

Give vent to the revolutionary spirit in every aspect of your life. There are great revolutions to be accomplished in art as well as agriculture. In literature and law. In music and medicine. And in poetry and politics. This all may sound overwhelming. Great accomplishments often are. But your generation has the potential to make the extraordinary commonplace. Take comfort in knowing that throughout our history, Americans have seized the moment. We draw strength from our revolutionary spirit when times are tough. As you embark on your revolution, please remember three things that can help you accomplish it. First, remember that each revolution starts with small steps -- the steps of learning. The inspirational writer Margaret Lee Runbeck said that "learning is always part rebellion. Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before." Therefore, think of your education not as a hectic dash, but as a long marathon with no finish line. Today, you conclude an important step in that direction by graduating from high school. But don't stop now -- or ever, for that matter. At this moment, quietly make this promise to yourself: "Each day will bring a learning experience." Second, remember to be a willing leader of your own revolution and be not afraid to proclaim it. Never surrender to the fashionable type of pessimism that expresses itself in a cynical or sarcastic spirit. Or the pessimism disguised in the perverse theory that we are all governed by vast historical forces -- so why bother? Do not allow yourself to accept a world in which right and wrong have been boiled down to a shrug of the shoulders. "Whatever." Instead, focus on your possibilities. Lead your journey with a confident optimism that empowers you to better yourself and the world around you. And third, remember that a lot of people have good ideas. But the person who conducts a successful revolution is the one who wakes up in the morning and does something about those good ideas. There's a lot I could say here about dedication and hard work. But instead, I'm going to give you one very specific piece of advice. If you forget everything else I say today, I hope you will remember this. My father was a lawyer, and a very good one. When I was a boy, he taught me something he called the "Five P's." "Prior preparation prevents poor performance." Does it surprise you that I would mention something this simple to young adults like you? If it does, I'm sorry because I am completely serious. I have had many opportunities in my life, including the chance to serve my country in high office and to work for four great American presidents. And those opportunities came to me, I believe, because my father taught me to get up a little earlier in the morning, to work a little harder all day, and to stay up a little later at night to be sure I was ready for the challenges I would face.

And so, ladies and gentlemen (and particularly you graduates) let me conclude by saying what commencement speakers always say -- a "commencement," is by definition a "beginning." I encourage each of you not to view this ceremony as an end of one experience, but rather as the start of new opportunities. As you close the door today on one important part of your life, another door opens. It's the door to the future. As you go through that door, remember to accept your responsibility as apostles of the American spirit and as members of the human family. Keep that spirit alive through a personal revolution that will carry you until you are my age and, hopefully, longer. To you -- Alexander Smith graduates of the Class of 2009 -- dare to be a revolutionary! It is your American heritage. Good luck to you on your journey into a waiting and hopeful world.

Class of 2008

  • Valedictorian: Rachel Kobernick
  • Salutatorian: Lauren Koucouthakis

The following speeches were given on Sunday, May 25, 2008 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2008 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Rachel Kobernick'08

Rachel Kobernick

There are so many people that I would love to be able to thank for an awesome three years at ASA, but I'm afraid some invisible orchestra would start playing some awful tune. For those of you who don't know, yes I did say three years. Much to Jared's chagrin I skipped a grade, and joined this amazing class. I don't think that I would have ever made it without Mr. Arnold's confidence in me and Mrs. Weller's generosity with her time when I wasn't even her student, as well as the help and support from all my teachers. But I've had a very full, and very hectic two years to get to know everyone in it from Lauren and her craziness, racing me to get the answer in Bio 2, to Asher and his famous debates with both Mrs. Rameau and Mr. Treadwell, to Karl who has been on time for the entire quarter, to Clay and his doughnuts, Hayley and her mesmerizing doodles, and many others who if I listed, we'd probably be here all night, and we'd never get our diplomas.

Diploma, it's such an amazing word, and an amazing idea. These pieces of paper, this education that ASA has provided us, is just the beginning; it's the basis for the rest of our lives. Edward Koch said that "The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse." Let it burn, let passion's flame take you wherever you need to go to find your true place in the world. If there's one thing that I must stress, and no, not the 'I have a deadline next period' kind of stress, is passion.

Whether it's passion for sports, art, music, politics, or the sciences, it is that passion that will drive you to succeed, as you have already done by just being here. It is one of Confucius's teachings that "wherever you go, go with all your heart". And that is what I must say as well. Your heart, your passion is your drive, and your education, your key. Use it as a springboard to launch yourself into your future and guide throughout your life.

However, before I wrap up, there are a few more people, who mean a lot to me, that I must thank; for without them, I would not be standing here at this podium right now, shaking like a leaf and picturing you all with funky fruit hats. Those people are my family. My parents have always supported me through thick and thin and have patiently listened to almost each and every single paper that I ever wrote for Mrs. Rameau. Trust me, I'm sure that my dad has had enough of Hamlet and his insane shenanigans to last him for a good while, at least until college. But, I am most grateful that my grandparents, my Bubbie and Zadie were able to make it down here to my graduation.

Class of '08, we have been blessed to have such an amazing base of support from many directions: other students, our families, and our wonderful teachers. Now, I challenge you to make the best of it, use your passion and "shoot for the moon", for according to Les Brown, "even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." I wish you all the best of luck, and give you my deepest thanks for an amazing high school experience. Now if you don't mind, I leave you in good hands, because it's almost my bedtime.

Salutatorian Speech: by Lauren Koucouthakis '08

Lauren Koucouthakis

It's hard to believe that one little sheet of paper sums up the past 4 years of tears, sweat, work, and giggles. I mean, couldn't it be a trophy or at least a rocking pair of shoes? Well I guess that wouldn't work because everyone wouldn't like or fit into the same pair of shoes. Oh well, at least we get the sheet of paper with our names on it.

As I sat down to write this speech I thought about what graduation and the last 4 years means to me. Of course I couldn't avoid the cliché thoughts "wow it went by so fast" and "yes! I finally made it!" But what really stood out to me were the people that entered my life over the past years, including the teachers and staff of ASA and all of my fellow classmates. I really want to thank all of you for being there, being who you are, and helping me develop as a person. I will truly miss all of you, as well as the insane, quirky discussions and the endless laughter we shared on a daily basis.

Although this is a sad ending, we can't dwell on that, but instead focus on the exciting beginning it brings. WE ARE GOING TO COLLEGE! Escaping from high school and taking on the real world, where there is no Pam, Maggie, or Monique chasing us down to keep us in line. For some of us this may come as a rude awakening, but for others a sigh of relief.

As we spread across the country, welcoming the college experience and attempting to shun our newfound workload, we will carry these people and experiences we graduate from on this evening. Whether it is the fond memories of four-square in the parking lot or the not so fond memories of getting chastised for dress code, which I of course would know nothing of. Every little happening has fastened itself onto our characters, causing us to grow and change. Congratulations my fellow graduates, on earning a personalized sheet of paper and gaining a whole lot more you didn't mean to along the way.

Class of 2007

  • Valedictorian: Cody Melcher
  • Salutatorian: Alexandra Comly

The following speeches were given on Sunday May 27, 2007 @ The Houston Marriott Westchase Hotel. Class of 2007 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Cody Melcher '07

Cody Melcher

Good evening Faculty, Family, Friends, Friends of Family, Family of Friends, Friends of Faculty, Family of Faculty, Faculty of Friends, Friends of Friends, and Friends of Friends of Faculty, tonight, it's finally here, graduation night. I'm going to do my best to avoid overused and tedious metaphors, for they are LIKE an ocean that spills over the horizon where there is no land in sight. See, that's a simile. Similes are ok. Seniors, I mean the students, not the citizens, you're moving on continuing on the journey of your life, and this is one of the most important parts, life after high school.

This is the point in our lives to still have fun, as I'm VERY sure all of you will have no problem doing, but also get a little serious about our futures. We're not supposed to know now, and we won't even know then, but as I think it goes, it's not the destination, but the journey. As David Bowie said, You can neither win nor lose if you don't even run the race. What's important, is that your future is nigh, which means it's near. However, this is the only sappy advice that I'll give you during this melancholy verbiage. When you're wherever you are, remember, normal is a relative term. What you may consider normal, someone might consider weird, and vice-versa. Dr. Seuss said that you should be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Go somewhere different and do something different. The future will be difficult, but if you can live through me talking for this long, you'll survive.

As I stand here, I have to feel the pressure to thank those that have helped me get to this podium, since they're all staring at me. First, and foremost, my family. Without the creation of, and help through, all of the insanity of my life, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I'm still trying to decide if that's a good thing, or not. They've always been there, well, not at that table since this is a one night thing, but they're still a core to my essential being. Secondly, my teachers. All of the teachers at the school, not just the ones that have taught me, have been a great help and inspiration to me. I came to the school thinking I was pretty mature already, and learned that I still had a lot of growing up to do, and still have a lot to go. E.E. Cummings said something that sticks with me at this point, It takes a lot of courage to grow up and become who you really are, and I thank all of you that helped me grow up to discover who I really am, and I only hope that the journey continues as well as it already has.

Well, this seems like a good time to start wrapping up before Maggie bangs the gong and I get whisked away. Ask your parents about that joke. So, to all of you, good luck and remember that Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. And, in case the sailing references weren't enough of a clue, that was Mark Twain. Anyway, goodnight, good luck, and thank all of you. You have been great to me these four years of my long, confusing life, and fantastic the minutes of this long, confusing speech.

Thank you all, goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow. Only pleasant, nothing too grand.

Salutatorian Speech: by Alexandra Comly '07

Alexandra Comly

I have been at ASA for 4 years and many times, I feel like I took the school and the people for granted. I came to ASA four years ago, a trembling wreck, and most of the time I was so busy wishing that high school was over and done with, that I never took the time to appreciate the people around me. I cannot begin to thank the teachers for putting up with me; you have all been an inspiration to me. It feels like just yesterday that I was a "no good, rotten freshman". And now I'm graduating and I'm left wondering where the time went.

The most inspirational people in my life are my family members; without them, I would have lost my ambition and drive to succeed. My mom has always kept me on my feet about my grades; checking edline whenever she got a chance, and then reporting it immediately to me. My dad and my sister have also been there for me with my studies; they made a stronger person by always pushing me to the limit. I would also like to mention my grandmother; with out her constant donations to my academic endeavors, I would never have been able to attend ASA. Her love and kindness have opened many doors for me, and for that, I will always be thankful. My family has always been and will always be the root of my existence and the most influential people in my life.

I would like to quickly mention one important detail about our senior class; besides the fact that we are the best, we have 3 original freshman: Zach Fein, Cody Melcher, and of course, me. We have always backed each other up through all of the drama that has occurred over the past 4 years. I sat at my desk the other night, wondering just what I was supposed to write about our senior class; I could say that we are unique, that would be appropriate, I could say we are interesting, eccentric, crazy, or I could just say we are perfect. It might seem cliques-ish, but the truth is our senior class is perfect. I will leave you with a classic Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets: "I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Do what you want to do, and that choice will always lead you in the right direction. This is your life, your future, and a new experience, so go a little crazy, make mistakes, but never regret, move to a new chapter, but never forget the past and most importantly, do what you love and live as if this is all there is. I am truly proud of everyone and I wish all of you the best of luck in your future endeavors! WE DID IT! CHUCK UP THE DUECE! I won't actually say that, unless it's alright!! Haha

Class of 2006

Valedictorian: Amara Fedke

The following speeches were given on Sunday, June 4, 2006 @ The Westchase Hilton Hotel. Class of 2006 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Amara Fedke '06

Amara Fedke

I realize that this speech is usually about the FUTURE and how we're supposed to go forward into it without doubt or worry. But I can't lecture you on unshaken confidence because I am terrified to leave Alexander Smith Academy. There are days when I want to stay at ASA for the rest of my life. Can't you see it, me at 30 and Mrs. Rameau still telling me to up the language in my papers?

Then it occurs to me, I am not going to miss ASA, I am going to miss the people. I am going to miss Jaz messing with my hair in Spanish. I am going to miss being lost in physics, nodding and pretending to know what Mrs. Kennedy is talking about. And Colin and Mrs. Rameau's epic object throwing, are you kidding me? Where else could I have learned pens can ricochet?

I have a confession to make. The first day I came to ASA, it scared the living daylights out of me, because it was so different than the school I came from. It was in a freezing office building, Students were calling teachers by their first name, and one kid got within an inch of another kids face and was screaming at him. I did the only thing I could; I went home and didn't come back for three months. When I did return, I learned the important things about ASA. That it really is a family, and that the teachers really care about you, and do their best to make sure you succeed. Monique is like a second mother, she must have received a million calls from my dad when I started driving. When I had my infamous seizure Dave was right in my face when I came to, calling my name; and Maggie was in the Ambulance with me and stayed for hours in the hospital with my mom. I have discussed a current event every week for the past two years with Mrs. Johnson, and spent hours talking politics with Ellen in Spanish class. ASA has really changed me for the better. I have grown up here and I will always remember it with love.

Now I know I wouldn't be here in front of you today is it weren't for my family. As corny as it sounds, it's true. My mom has always been an optimist, the world could be ending and she'd would still say, "Well, no more homework." She is my confidant and my best friend. My dad is like a big kid, our Sunday movie ritual has always calmed me down, and as cheesy as his jokes are, they still put a smile on my face. and my brothers have always kept me grounded. If my head gets a little to big, whether it be about losing a couple of pounds or being Valedictorian, they're quick to say "Didn't you just eat a piece of cheesecake?" or "yeah, you're Valedictorian, but of how many?" So thank you Mom, Dad, Ian, and Mainey.

I say all this to say that I didn't want this speech to be about the our future and becoming adults because ... well it's scary. I know becoming an adult is inevitable and that one day you realize, "O man that's something my mom would say," but I don't want this class to lose what makes them, them. Just because Houston has to grow up, it doesn't mean he still can't be the loud mouth coach we saw on the softball field. And Colin should maintain his crazy sense of humor or his competiveness, even though I'll kick his butt in any game of charades. Class of 2006, maintain your goofiness, maintain your heart. I will leave you with a quote not from Shakespeare, and not from Robert Frost, but Rascal Flats, a country singer."My wish for you is that your life becomes all that you want it to. You're dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too. This is my wish for you," Class of 2006.

Class of 2005

  • Valedictorian: Amanda Comly
  • Salutatorian: Nicole Ferguson

The following speeches were given on Sunday, June 5, 2005 @ The Warwick Hotel. Class of 2005 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Amanda Comly '05

Amanda Comly

It's crazy to think that four years have passed since I was first welcomed by a shock of frigid air into the first floor of that business building, which is Alexander Smith Academy. Strangely enough, I kept walking through that door to find the same sub-zero temperatures greet me every year. It's surprising that I didn't get frostbite or grow hairy. Back then; I thought this moment would never come. I'd never survive freshman year, never learn Biology, and never get anything to print off the library computers. This school would soon become my second home for many reasons. Of course, new people would be added to the mix, and others would leave the scene, but for the moment I want to focus on the things about my life and ASA that have remained constant and never failed me. I discovered my true passion at age 3, as most of you know, in horses. My dreams and goals from that day forward lay solely in the equestrian sports that have consumed almost every minute of my existence outside of school. I learned how to be competitive, learned dedication, and sportsmanship, all things that helped shape my soul and provided the backbone for the person you see today. Without this, without show jumping, I could never have made it through school. At the root of all this, fueling and supporting my riding endeavors at every stage, every peak and every depression, she was there. When opportunity knocked, she was the one who opened all the doors and invited it in for me. She took her job as Ed-line expert of the house seriously. I don't think I ever knew my test grades before she had found out from Ed-line. She is my mentor, my mother, and my friend. I have never been at a loss of love or care from my family, considering that I owe my entire education and equestrian expenses to the generosity of my grandmother in Germany, who I may not be able to see in person every day or even every year, but who watches over me from a distance.

This brings me to the people I have seen everyday… The people who taught me everything from writing essays to unscrambling calculus equations. Some guided me in the production of a movie about Spanish cross-dressers, while others showed me the importance of fumigating a room with Lysol; some even fueled my addiction for hot chocolate. These are the people who have watched me grow from a pathetic lousy freshman, to an obnoxious senior, the people who have taken my hand and walked me through 4 years of high school, and 4 years of my life. These amazing people are those I call my teachers and counselors. My teachers have seen me cry a little, and smile a lot. They've seen me sit in the library for hours at a time, wondering when I'd ever leave. Well it's time; Time to finally leave…Time to live another life, because I've spent too much time on this one, as Henry David Thoreau would say. Time for a change, a graduation and move away from our familiar houses, and home cooked meals. It's time for us all to live a different life, wear down another path in the wood, and enjoy the vie w from a different vantage point on the vessel… Farewell ASA & Good luck class of 2005

Salutatorian Speech by Nicole Ferguson '05

Nicole Ferguson

Class of 2004

  • Valedictorian: Elena Capelson
  • Salutatorian: Michael Nann

The following speeches were given on Sunday June 6, 2004 @ The Warwick Hotel. Class of 2004 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Elena Capelson '04

Elena Capelson

Welcome Class of 2004 - I'm happy we can all join here today to share this event together. And thank you to the faculty and all of our loved ones who have come to support us.

In preparing this speech, I had no idea what to do to add a personal touch. I thought about telling a poem, singing a song, and even doing a little dance number too, in order to add a little variety to the common graduation speech we all know and love but I decided to save myself that embarrassment. And I'm sure you've all heard the common clichés people use when giving graduation speeches. This is just the beginning, two roads diverged in a wood, Today is the first day of the rest of your life, etc, etc. Although I tried to stay away from these cliché's, I found it quite difficult, because in reality, this situation breaks down to a cliché, I mean come on it is high school graduation, so all I can do is say what's in my heart, express what I am feeling at this time and assume you are all experiencing the same. And if you're not, since you're stuck with me giving this speech, you're just going have to bear with me for the next five minutes. There's a sense of great relief about it all. We are finishing high school, finally escaping from everything tying us down, getting to be free, and on our own in the world. I couldn't be happier about this. But at the same time I feel a sense of melancholy knowing that this might be the last time I see some of these people all together. But then I remember that even though we all might be separating and moving on, I know that everyone here will be out in the world doing their own thing to make them happy. I know everyone here will give it their all in whatever they do and find out who they are in the process. We will be moving on to greater things, and this replaces my melancholy with great optimism for us all.

I'm going to miss everyone here when we all leave in a month. I'm going to miss the ridiculous arguments we have in class ranging from politics to the Janet Jackson scandal. I'm going to miss Mrs. Rameau's spunkiness, Maggie's sense of humor, and Mrs. Kennedy's awesome sense of mellowness, not to mention a unique character like Dave Arnold. I'm definitely going to miss having the option of taking an in class absence. I'm sure we all have things we will miss about ASA, but maybe we don't realize them all just yet.

So what does the rest of our life hold for us? Do all the events in our lives happen by pure chance or is there a certain path already laid out for us that we can't see. Like, is there a certain lesson to be learned why I failed to get accepted to a certain Berkeley college or was it pure chance that it didn't happen? By the way, many fellow ASA people said it's "too liberal for a Texan anyways", so thank you for your compassion. The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter what controls our future, whether is a roll of the dice or some kind of "higher power" guiding us all. Because in the end, by making the decisions we make through life, we are going to end up in the same place. Yes, some paths can get you richer or more famous, but it doesn't matter because in the end you are still going to FEEL THE SAME about yourself and your life. As long as you stay true to yourself, you can do no wrong with whatever life throws you. Stay true to yourself, I guess I did have to use a cliché in my speech after all, but that one definitely makes sense.

In conclusion, As a fan of simplifying things, I would like to quote Dr. Seuss.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -Dr. Seuss


Salutatorian Speech by Michael Nann '04

Michael Nann

As Tom Hanks stated in Forest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." This is how life as been for me. These last three years have brought me an assortment of flavors. Coming from the Loomis Chaffee Prep School in Connecticut where the average day was composed of a normal school day, six hours of homework, three hours of sports, and a grueling rubber band civil war with my roommate during study hours each night, to me there had to be something more in life than this rigorous, undesirable routine. I did not desire a degree from Harvard, to be the next Wayne Gretsky, or the best rubber band shooter out of the South. I had qualified to benefit from an experience many never will be given as well as developed new and great friendships and a painful GPA. I realized that once again the box of chocolates was open and ready for me to try a new kind.

This time I picked the right chocolate, long lasting, savory and sweeter than past kinds. This piece brought me to this school - the Alexander-Smith Academy. Here I realized the true value of family, relationships, and so much more. I have developed a more diverse lifestyle. ASA encouraged me to draw from my idol, my father, while evolving skills learned from him into my own unique character. I, after six months at this school, realized who I am and what I desire from life. Mr. Arnold, along with the rest of the administration and faculty, encouraged me to reach my goals while making sure I truly desired and was prepared to achieve them. He as well has provided an environment in which individuals can be just that, an individual, expressing their thoughts, participating in extracurricular activities and participating in a killer ping pong tournament to symbolize the school year's end. I personally owe this school more than words can say. I love this place because I am the Alexander- Smith Academy.

With the foundation laid for me here, I am striving for glory which is achieved when one reaches their goals and is recognized for them. ASA has laid the foundation for all of us to achieve this glory. All of you, as graduated students, have been blessed in many ways. This school will always be your school. No lunch, athletics, and such few students makes our school one of a kind, and as adults you should be proud when telling your children that you were educated at the Alexander-Smith Academy.

Education has allowed all my relationships to grow and my thanks are extended to Mr. Arnold, for accepting me, and to all of you who have contributed to my life. Maggie – for all of your efforts on the 16 college applications and for the encouragement and guidance. My family - you bring me a smile and I love you. Stephen and Jacquelyn, both of you, I had to make an effort to learn to spell your names but you are my best friends and will always hold a place in my heart. Good Luck everyone in all your endeavors. I wish you success and happiness, and lastly never forget,

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.-Matthew 6:34

Class of 2003

  • Valedictorian: Alexis Breeding
  • Salutatorian: Jenny Spuhler

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's Class of 2003 Graduation Ceremonies.

Valedictorian Speech by Alexis Breeding '03

Alexis Breeding

I've been going to ASA for three long pampered years. After braving public schools for ten years, I know the feeling of being just a number. Moving on from the comfortable corridor's of cozy ASA will be a great challenge for all of us to face. In these past few weeks, as I contemplated the words to express my feelings for this occasion, I have realized how much I greatly value my time spent here. The luxuries that ASA accommodates for its students have become common place, and thus, I have taken them for granted. The prospect of college intimidates me only when I realize that there will be no Maggie twenty feet away willing to listen to my four-letter word complaints, and no Pam to tell me to suck it up.

The unique high school experience that we have had the priviledge of receiving can be attributed to the tireless administrators and teachers found only at ASA. This special team of mentors have empowered us with not only a vast labyrinth of knowledge, but an appreciation of learning. Despite even the latest epidemic of Senioritis, the ASA faculty have reached a new level of tolerance with their enduring patience.

To my fellow graduates, it's been a long journey filled with many obstacles that has led us here today. The trials and tribulations that we have pulled through, like that one time we ran out of the hot chocolate mix with the little marshmallows, has been quite phenomenal. But, please keep in mind, that what didn't kill us, made us much stronger. I hope that you too can look upon your high school career spent at ASA and recall fond memories.

To my family and friends, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation. Your dedication and support has been priceless in aiding me throughout my high school career. I could have never pulled through the endless nights of studying without your never-ending support.

I leave you now with words of advice from Henry David Thoreau.

Go confidently in the direction of dreams! Live the life you have imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.-Henry David Thoreau

Thank you.

Salutatorian Speech by Jenny Spuhler

Jenny Spuhler

Welcome Class of 2003. So far, it has been a long and successful journey for all of us. We are now closing this chapter in our lives and preparing for an exciting new one.

Life is a path with several turns that often lead us astray
But life has its little twists that keep us going the right way
Life is about experiencing the unknown
And discovering that there is always more to live for
Life is intertwined with happiness and pain
But it will always be the darkest just before the dawn.
–Jenny Spuhler

Life is a series of new beginnings. We proceed through each stage of life focused on one main goal, making it to the next step. For whatever reason, life has chosen to lead each one of us to this wonderful institution known as Alexander Smith Academy.

Michelangelo reminds us that: "the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim was too high and we missed it, but that it was too low and we reached it."

As graduates, we are at a new starting line as equals looking toward an almost limitless future in the greatest nation that the world has ever known. Popularity, personalities, and discrepancies can all be left behind for this new beginning. Many opportunities await us as we give up the past to prepare for the future. All of us here today have something to offer to the world. By creating new ideas, we will take on the world instead of letting the world overtake us.

For every person who climbs the ladder of success, there are a dozen waiting for the elevator. -Anonymous

ASA has prepared us to be among those who will achieve success in today's competitive world. We owe our most sincere gratitude to all the superb educators and mentors who have helped shape our lives and tolerated us each day during our high school experience. You have inspired each of us to become the person we are today.

We now make our way into the future, maturing into young adults. As we leave adolescence behind, we are entering our brave new world of independence, but hopefully not from our parents' checkbook. As we proceed toward the next stage of life, we go well prepared by our ASA experience.

Congratulations Class of 2003!

Class of 2002

  • Valedictorian: Alix Garrison
  • Co-Salutatorian: Vanessa Lorenz
  • Co-Salutatorian: Ashley Kesee

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's Class of 2002 Graduation Ceremonies held at the Warwick Hotel on June 2, 2002.

Valedictorian Speech by Alix Garrison '02

Alix Garrison

Welcome Family, Friends, Faculty … Welcome graduating class of 2002. Congratulations. Thank you for giving me the privilege of addressing you at such an important part of your life. It is a great honor. Thank you. I want to share two things with you that are very important to me. The first, a revelation, came to me like many of the things in life, when I least expected it. And it is this -- to regret nothing.

I came across this revelation late one night sophomore year, as I was procrastinating something, I'm sure, flipping through the many cable channels. After scanning the guide and find nothing of interest I turned to VH1. There was a special on Madonna, and I don't remember anything else about the show except one thing she said in an interview. She was asked that after looking back at her most interesting life whether she regretted doing anything. Her reply was a simple…. "no." She said she didn't regret anything because everything she has done has made her the person she is today. I thought that was incredible, after all of her experiences and personalities she had created for herself - whether nasty, fashionably insane… she did not regret a single one. She was proud of who she had become and on TV she looked genuinely happy with herself. She was shining in front of the millions of people and reporters who have scrutinized her life for the last 20 years.

Madonna made me think about all the things that I have regretted and it, frankly, made me feel foolish. I realized then that nothing good comes out of worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected. One can't look back. I remember a time when I used to dwell on the "what -would be life be like" questions. What would my life be like if I had only done things differently? What would my life be like if I had chosen not to go off to boarding school? And for that matter, what would my life be like if I had not chosen to leave after six weeks? When I thought about these questions, I felt frustrated and discouraged, and I stuck on a path of indecision. Regret had made me paralyzed. Which path should I have chosen, which path should I choose now, which path will I choose?

But now with my new philosophy of "no regrets" and a newfound respect for Madonna, these questions were irrelevant. I made those decisions and I can't change the way things happened. Today when I look back on my experiences I would not change any for the world. Everything I have gone through in high school; friendships, the fights, the stress, the laziness, the loss, the triumph and all the confusion has made me the person I am today, and I'm thankful for all of it…. every single minute of it.

The second thing I discovered is that to succeed you first need to try. I began to feel that I might be able to do very well at ASA, my sophomore year, Dave challenged me. He told me I could be standing up here today as Valedictorian if I were willing to work for it. I had no idea this was a possibility for me, but I accepted the challenge. No more indecision. I was committed. I worked hard, but I felt so much better. A new path had been taken.

It goes without saying, I am especially thankful for Alexander-Smith Academy. Student-friendly, comfortable, supportive, individualistic all describe this well kept secret that I have had the pleasure of calling my second home for the last four years. I think the greatest thing about ASA is that everyone is allowed to be themselves, no judging, no conforming, just individual. ASA would not be what it is without the dedication and enthusiasm the teachers and faculty have shown us. All of you have illustrated to us with your words and actions that you really do care, and we thank you for that. Students can be so lucky to find one teacher with these qualities. We have found an entire team of inspiring educators who have led us to this day.

To my fellow graduates, I hope your experience at ASA has made as big a difference in your life as it has in mine. I hope that you too can leave any regrets or what ifs behind you-as-you take the road to responsibility. I hope you make the most of the opportunities awaiting you at the college or university you have chosen. I wish you all well in life after ASA and hope to see you again in the future.

I want to leave you now with a quote by Thomas Hughes.

We all have to learn, in one way or another, that neither men nor [women] get second chances in the world. We all get new chances till the end of our lives, but not second chances in the same set of circumstances; and the great difference between one person and another is, how he takes hold of and uses his first chance, and how he takes his fall if it is scored against him. -Thomas Hughes

Class of 2002…. you've done well with your first chances and I trust you will be prepared to tackle your new chances in the path on the road ahead. Good luck and Congratulations.

Co-Salutatorian Speech by Vanessa Lorenz '02

Vanessa Lorenz

This is a very special time for us seniors. We are about to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure. We will learn new things and acquire new freedom. However, I now want to speak to those of you following us.

While in Brazil, my brother and I attended the American school in Salvador. My last year there, I transferred to a Brazilian private school. The curriculum was new to me, and I became a bit of a curiosity to my fellow students. They called me "Americana." The following year I returned to the American curriculum, but this time in a boarding school in California, and eventually Alexander-Smith Academy. I am now labeled "Brazil." Far from ever taking offense, I considered this something that made me unique. Each and every one of us is unique.

To one degree or another, we are all afraid of not being accepted by our peers, and may be tempted to conform too easily for fear of rejection. Being part of a group or clique becomes so important that we sometimes hide our uniqueness for acceptance. By doing that, we may in fact achieve the opposite. Being unique and not attempting to hide it may be the best strategy, not only for acceptance, but also for a good self image. Our diversity, together with trust and friendship is a benefit to us all. We learn to see the same things from a different perspective, gain knowledge about each other and foster greater understanding. We have people from different places and different backgrounds; we have those who love music or fashion, sports and many other things. With team spirit and a common goal, we are strong.

As we enter the world of universities, we will be exposed to much larger groups of people, and of course, more diversity. We need not be afraid of that. We can look forward to a rewarding experience if we are willing to accept and respect our differences.

This we learned right here at Alexander Smith Academy, where I have made very good friends. I wish you all the same.

Class of 2001

  • Valedictorian: Trey Melcher Brandenberger
  • Salutatorian: Karyssa Ancellotti

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's Class of 2001 Graduation Ceremonies held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Valedictorian Speech by Trey Melcher Brandenberger '01

Trey Melcher Brandenberger

Good evening!

I want to begin tonight by welcoming each and everyone of you to the Alexander-Smith Academy Class of 2001Graduation Banquet. As I scan the room tonight, I can see many friends, relatives, dates, and other individuals who have joined us this evening to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating seniors. To these men, women, and siblings I extend an extra warm welcome because you are the ones who deserve special recognition and accolades. You special people have guided us down the road of adolescence through the winding, often diverging trail of our teen years into what will be our future as college students and the next generation of politicians, doctors, businessmen and women, teachers, lawyers, engineers and broadcasters. I know that I could not possibly stand here tonight as your valedictorian or even as a high school graduate if it were not for the undying, compassionate, and unrelenting support of my friends, family and teachers. So, let me speak for my fellow colleagues by personally congratulating you and expressing our immense appreciation for attending this momentous event of our lives. This event, twelve years in the making, is your celebration as well!

When I first interviewed at ASA four years ago I was a worn out, frustrated Kinkaid freshman who had lost the desire and quest for knowledge. I remember the jovial and friendly spirit of ASA's greatest asset, President David Arnold who welcomed me into his world which would become my home away from home for the three years that followed. A multitude of quotes from the some of the greatest thinkers and minds the literary world ever known come to mind right now, but rather than quote one of these constructive minds, I would like to repeat a phrase from ASA's wonderful, bearded pioneer- a phrase which impacted me immensely those four years ago and still remains an integral part of my philosophy today, "Oppression breeds rebellion." Coming from an oppressive situation these few words from President Arnold gave me new hope that I found a school where I would be free to learn without limits. From the moment I began my tenure at ASA my sophomore year, I have felt the presence of this mind set throughout all facets of this school. The nurturing and encouraging classroom atmosphere restored my desire to scholastically achieve. I found within myself my own personal motivation to succeed. Many of my teachers can tell you of times I've argued my case with the aspiration of raising my test score one or two points. Not only my teachers had to endure my drive for perfection, but also many of them have graciously put up with my ultraconservative views and belief that the fall of modern society is due to the present economic advisors who have allowed the ideas of Reaganomics to fall by the wayside. Now, I ask you where else could I have found the freedom to express myself in such profound way without fear of being repremanded for my beliefs. I have laughed with, whined to, and been inspired by my teachers at Alexander-Smith Academy. In the words of William Arthur Ward, "The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires." I salute the teachers who have inspired me and the rest of the Class of 2001.

Thanks to my years at ASA, I am ready to take on the challenge of college life with optimism and enthusiastic vigor. To my fellow classmates I encourage you to head into the future with confidence and daring because it is now up to you to shape your own destiny. It is time for you to make your own decision and leave your own mark on the world. The possibilities of what we can accomplish stretch endlessly before us. As Ghandi said, "Be the change that you want to see in the world."

Thank you!

Salutatorian Speech by Karyssa Ancellotti '01

Karyssa Ancellotti

Good Afternoon,

Fellow graduates, teachers, and parents. Many of you are probably telling yourself, "okay, I am finished with high school, but I have no idea what I want to do next or in the future." Do not worry you are probably not alone and many others feel the same. Not everyone graduating from high school has a clear path for the future, but I know we can come to a decision because ASA, our high school, has prepared us to be individual thinkers and guided us to make individual decisions for our future. Now, as graduates of this high school, it is time to say goodbye to the sheltered days of childhood and blossom into full-blown adults by making the biggest and most complicated decision of our lives: future career prospects. As Buddha said, "your work is to discover your world and then with all of your heart, give ourself to it." For most of us, our next step is college which is a time to continue our education and do a bit of soul-searching to discover who we are and where we fit with the rest of society. We will have to search for and find our own path, which may not be easy. As Polonius said in Shakespeare's HAMELT, "to thine ownself be true." While you are contemplating future endeavors, remember to be true to yourself; don't let others inappropriately influence your decisions because you will forever wonder if following your own mind and heart could have made you happier and more personally successful.

This lesson came from me when I was younger I hated gymnastics and had no desire to participate, yet I remained in the sport despite the unhappiness that ensued. I spent hours at the gym working hard to keep my coaches happy. I began contemplating whether or not I could remain in the sport, and my supportive parents did everything in their power to aid me in my decision. Despite my fear of change, I switched to a new gym where I learned that I was not to practice for the coaches or work to please them, but instead to practice for myself and attain my own goals which were fueled by a deep yearning to achieve.

Then, I realized that at the previous gym I was doing gymnastics for the wrong persons and working hard for the wrong reasons: to keep others happy. From then on at my new gym, I decided to start doing gymnastics, I knew it should remain a part of my world. After rekindling my love for the sport, the long days of practice filled with sweat and tears were easier to endure because I knew this sport was crucial in my life. Looking back, I realize that had I not overcome my fear of change, I would have missed out on a beneficial lesson regarding individuality and striking forth on my own. While most of us are dealing with the transition from high school to college, remember that this change will help spark a new dimension of your individual character and that change is not always detrimental, but more often than not a building block for developing a stronger mind, body, and soul. If your path requires drastic change seek this distinction with perseverance and diligence. As individual adults, the pleasing illusions of youth might forever fade away, but you must live each day with the same vigor which flourishes in the "spirit of youth." If all of a sudden this spirit diminishes due to a wrong decision, enliven the impulsiveness of youth and journey down a new unventured path. Remember while following any path in life remain enthusiastic of youth and fiery heart, like Homer says in the Illiad, "who dies in youth and vigor dies the best."

After finding what it is your heart burns for, keep with it and don't let others bring you down. If you are questioned or criticized, simply persevere. This philosophy is one thing I love about ASA teachers who are supportive. They never criticize or question who you are and what you want to do. Your identity remains intact. In college, students should find a supportive environment such as the one at ASA and immerse themselves in it and continue their individual pursuits. Once in this environment, students can then feed off each others hard work and motivation which will help push them through all of the bumps in the road along their way to finding a place in society. Remember when you are discovering your new world, to choose something that. "tugs at your heart, something that's your aspiration, something that's your dream. You owe it to yourself."

Class of 2000

  • Valedictorian: Marta Abrams
  • Salutatorian: Imran Malik

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's Class of 2000 Graduation Ceremonies held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Valedictorian Speech by Marta Abrams '00

Marta Abrams

As I stand here before you tonight I would like to make one thing clear… Now understand that there will be no graduation gowns, caps, or tassel's to be turned, so if you came expecting that, do not be disappointed. Yes, this may be somewhat of a unique graduation, but then ASA is somewhat of a unique school. Actually, that is exactly why we chose ASA; we all had high hopes and very definite goals. Our presence here marks the achievement of a very special goal. For all of us this goal of graduation required diligence, perseverance, and determination. We have all chosen ASA for different reasons; yet, we have all benefited in the same ways by our choice. This choice is reminiscent of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken", where he metaphorically describes a dilemma, and I quote:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as long I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth. -Robert Frost

Every one of us for some reason or another made the decision to trek down the ASA road that was more unknown. This school is not a typical school by any means and each of us allowed our journey to proceed on the grassier path that "wanted wear", the ASA route.

I must admit that within our senior class, finding a common denominator amongst every student is not an easy task. For, the diversity and individuality of this class is what makes us an amazingly unique group. Sure, we were all born in 1981 or 1982 and some time ago the Muppet babies were our heroes. And yeah, we all once liked to play Candy Land and Chutes And Ladders; girls we liked to play with our Cabbage Patch Kids, while you boys were busy tearing apart your transformers. But, sometime after our slap bracelets were taken away because they were dangerous, we stopped buying into these fads and began blossoming into individuals. Like any other school this senior class has all sorts of different kinds of people; the only difference is each clique here at ASA consists of one person…YOU.

Now, within my own clique, I like to refer to myself as a questioner. Even as a child I could not simply accept any answer, hence "why" has always been my favorite word. I vividly remember always asking my grandma, Millie, why she constantly bestowed complements upon everyone she encountered. From the bank teller to the beautician, her complements have always been heartfelt. Her response to me is, "A smile is a curve that sets a lot of things straight." For me, that was the greatest response. From that, inquisitiveness became my driving force. This questioning characteristic navigates me towards my achievements, and my willful integrity is the fuel that ignites my audacity to explore any realm. However, I cannot continue to give myself full credit for my accomplishments. For, the spirit that shines here with me tonight is the aura that belongs to my Mimi. Radiantly and energetically in 1926 she too stood in front of her graduating class and delivered her Valedictorian speech. I know that she is not physically here with me tonight, but I am keenly aware that a part of her flourishes within me. However, I am fortunate that I am able to share this special evening with my Poppy. With that same appreciation, I recognize how my parents never trivialized my eternal quest for a balanced development. Instead, they always offer enthusiasm and insight into both my wants and needs. My sister, Rochelle, and my little bro, Stephen, also definitely deserve gratitude. They have always kept my life entertaining, and together we all gave my parents many headaches. I feel so fortunate that my family does not only include immediate family. My extended family consists of my amazing friends. Whatever nickname we choose, whether it is TNS, or The Girl's my sistas have provided me with the greatest memories and lessons, but most of all we accumulated our unique unit. We always told each other that we are going to look back on all the times we cried and laugh, but now that separation is approaching, we are finding that we are actually more susceptible to cry at the times we once laughed. Together we have experienced a labyrinth of emotions, and believe me we left non-unsaid.

And with that, I can say that each of us here tonight appreciates the efforts made by others to help us achieve our graduation goal. Indeed, each of us has been plagued with some degree of senioritis, yet as Maggie prayed for an elixir, Pam, Sandy, and all the other teachers continued to keep our workload furiously focused. However, we still took every necessary stride towards this graduation day, even though it was so difficult to concentrate and hold onto our attention during all of this excitement.

And now, in the midst of all the excitement, we are experiencing mixed feelings. We all ponder: "Am I really ready? Do I want to leave my friends and family? Who is going to be my caretaker?" This hesitancy towards the new only exists because the old is both familiar and extraordinarily comfortable. However, realistically we are ready, we will make new friends, we will envelop ourselves in a "homey" situation, and believe it or not, we will begin to take care of ourselves. I know this because we are all prepared.

Every one of us should feel extremely fortunate for the quality education we have received. School was never a bore, not only did we learn from our teachers and counselors, but we also learned from each other. Together, whether at school or the Taj Mahal study hall, we attained knowledge that textbooks could not provide. We have been taught to analyze situations while tackling the predicament until insight prevails. I now notice that even the simplest daily routines can be filled with acumen, if you are willing to not take life for face value. For instance, driving during rush hour the other day I, amongst other drivers, sat in the car cursing at the traffic ahead of me. But, in the carpool lane to the left of me, cars were zooming by just because they carried passengers. At that moment I realized ASA's successful strategy.

This simple analogy is the key to triumph. It is plain and simple, if we ride together we arrive at our destination quicker. Conversely, if we want to wait for success to come to us – we will be stuck in traffic - frustrated - and very alone. By no means would I have believed that school could enlighten me on such a universal concept, but ASA proved me wrong. I even remember the butterflies that swarmed around my stomach while I anxiously awaited my ASA interview, but after Dave greeted me in his cowboy boots and with his laid back manner the butterflies seemed to fly away. I have never before witnessed a school as a whole so committed to paving the road to success for each individual student. In a sense the teachers make it difficult to fail. Because, as a student it is so wonderful to observe teachers who sincerely care, and are dedicated to enlightening us and helping us achieve. Consequently we are forced to do well, even though at the onset the task seemed insurmountable.

My experience at ASA has been nothing but wonderful. I feel that I can speak for the entire class of 2000 and acknowledge everyone's hard work towards making this day a feasible feat. ASA has given us the foundation we will need to succeed in the fast pace world in which we live. I am glad that I chose the less traveled ASA path, because as Frost noted:

I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence:/Two roads diverged in a wood and I/I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference.-Robert Frost


Salutatorian Speech by Imran Malik '00

Imran Malik

Distinguished guests, the honorable faculty, my fellow students, and of course, Mr. Charisma himself, David Arnold, welcome, on my behalf, to the Commencement Ceremony of the first graduating class of the New Millennium. The leaders of the future, we the Class of 2000 are the epitome of charisma, congeniality, dedication, talent, and, of course, as seen through Dallas Garrison, hard work. Aware of our tremendous accomplishments, we would love to take full credit for our success (which some of us will), but without giving credit to the faculty, we wouldn't be doing justice to Alexander Smith Academy. An unparalleled environment, our school has allowed us to mature into responsible, knowledgeable young adults prepared to address the challenges of the future.

Today is a distinguished day, a day that will never return again. It is our day to celebrate our accomplishments, as we start to realize what we have achieved. However, what makes today such a cherished day (besides the fact that you have me speaking), will be our myriad memories at ASA. One day, we too shall reflect on our "good old days" remembering our daily antics that actually made school kind of "fun". Never will I forget the day, when our Physics class performed a trajectory lab with moving cars in the parking lot, which by far was he most enjoyable and educational class of all time. And I want to thank Mrs. Kennedy, who knew you had such a great sense of humor, and I want to thank you for entrusting us with such a responsibility, but I have the feeling that lab went into history never to be repeated again. Nor could I over look the time when Pam took us to see the play "Damn Yankees", somewhat striking to a native New Yorker like myself, but a life's worth experience nonetheless. My friends from Room 101, which the writer George Orwell remarked as an insidious threat to society, know all too well that Pam gives meaning to literature. And despite her daily reprimands, that I've grown to love, I can safely say I will always remember her as my friend who motivated me to reach the next level.

Words can not explain the level of individualistic talent here today. Our unity, however, is in our ability to lead. Today, I am a leader amongst leaders prepared to make my dream into a reality.

Thus, I must congratulate the graduates of today, who are undoubtedly prepared to become the role models of tomorrow. First off, I must congratulate Marta on her much deserved achievement and thank her for her advice when I needed it the most. Then there is Robyn Atlas, who showed me over the past 2 years, that even Calculus could be fun! And I will dearly miss you Robyn, especially your comical renditions in the future.

In addition, I must bring light on future celebrities amongst us. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have amongst us a few, who will one day become household names across the nation. Without hesitation, I must recognize Umar Suhail, whose striving career as a boxer promises him a place in history next to none other than the one and only Peter McNeely himself. Then we have Vernon Henry, whose classroom antics prove him to be the undisputed Drama Queen, I mean King, of the new Millennium. And finally, our most guaranteed celeb., without a doubt, my dear friend, Eric Schmidt, shall one day make his way to the White House with his witty employment of humor and politics. This brings me to a very important. Ladies and Gentlemen, reflecting on the past year, I can sincerely say that there has been divine presence in getting ALL of us here today. Come ON, after all, even Eric is present and enthusiastically ready to graduate on time. And Eric, I think Maggie will take credit for that one...

So as we move on into the future, not only do we leave JR behind, but we leave our memories and achievements as we head forward to a new tomorrow.

Before I leave, I must thank the two most important people in my life, without whom this achievement would not be complete. Mom/Dad, words cannot explain what you guys mean to me. I want to thank you for your gracious support through thick and thin. You uplifted me when I was down and provided me with the courage and vision to succeed and I would feel honored to dedicate this one to you guys. Let me reiterate: Thank you parents, Thank you teachers, Thank you ASA, for without you I could not have utilized my potential and make tomorrow what it is today.

As for the Class of 2000, I should like to say to you, who are about to embark upon your careers, that you are now guardians of a sacred heritage. So, go forth into the world armed with courage and vision, loyal to the standards this great school has represented for many years. May you all serve faithfully with ingenuity and the courage to embark in your own distinctive ways for only then will you leave ASA's mark on the hands of time. I wish all of you the best of luck. Farewell my friends; "We should live for the future and yet should find our life in the fidelities of the present." Carpe Diem.

Thank you,
Yours Truly

Class of 1999

  • Valedictorian: Estella R. King
  • Salutatorian: Teal De La Garza

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's Class of 1999 Graduation Ceremonies held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Valedictorian Speech by Estella R. King '99

Estella R. King

I never imagined myself making this speech, but it seems that David Arnold never had any doubt. I distinctly remember the first time I met David Arnold. I was a below average eighth grade student desperately trying to find a school where I could fit in. I waited nervously with my parents in the lobby and then appeared an extremely tall man wearing jeans, boots and a starched collared shirt who greeted me by saying "This is our valedictorian." That instant faith from a stranger is great motivation for a future student.

Four years have passed since I first stepped through ASA's doors and entered into a situation that would change my life. Throughout these four years, I have struggled to reach my goals with my family, teachers, and friends beside me each step of the way. If I were uncertain, they would advise me; if I fell, they would lift me up; if I succeeded, they would cheer me on.

The pure strength of this school lies within the hearts of the teachers. They were the reason that I came here each day. I always entered this school with anticipation, never intimidation. These teachers not only teach us the knowledge that comes from books, but also the knowledge that comes from living life. They fulfill their roles as teachers first, yet they never neglect their roles as mentors, confidants and friends.

ASA has been an experience for all of us. It may have been educational, spiritual, or emotional, but hopefully it was memorable. I can honestly say that it will be difficult for me to say goodbye and leave high school because ASA has been a never weakening constant throughout my early adult life. As a result, I am extremely confident in saying that ASA has adequately prepared me for the roads ahead, even though they are uncertain and uncharted.

I would like to dedicate my achievements to my parents who gave me the generous opportunity to attend this school. They always believed that I possessed potential that was hidden deep within, yet they never pressured its emergence. They have always pushed me to strive for my goals while giving me the freedom to make my own choices whether they led me to good fortune or a hard earned, humble lesson. They have always supported each decision I made, and they never looked upon me as a child but as a person with a capable mind.

I have learned many things about myself as a result of this experience. I have learned never to give up on myself or the ones I love, and I now know that I can accomplish anything if I am determined enough. I am finally able to find strength within myself instead of depending on others. I have built friendships here that will endure the test of time and I will never again have the fear of being unhappy as long as I fight for what I want in life. The greatest gift that ASA has given me and that can never be replaced is an outstanding education, and I will always be grateful for that. Notable author, Dr. Seuss, summed up the thoughts I have had as I am about to start a new life. He wrote, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the person who will decide where to go." I am now able to believe this statement because of my family and ASA.

Thank You.

Salutatorian Speech by Teal De La Garza '99

Teal De La Garza

Although I'd love to give myself credit for having taken this on without a bit of help from the past, I can't. The truth is I'm blessed to have had a million helping hands along the way. I couldn't quite mention them all, even if I tried. I feel really classy standing here among the ranks of the ... well, I guess I can call us scholars ... that I stand amongst. There's Mr. Jacobson who I can honestly say is the most ingeniously witty person I have ever known. I often find myself waking up, from cackling so hard the night before, my pallet sore, and my stomach overcome with laughter pains; all after a late night of hilarity with Scotty. Without Miss Keller, our trio is not complete. I should call her a paragon for achievement and describe her as ever capable of striving towards satisfaction. I admire her courage in eliminating all obstacles that stand in her way. It wouldn't shock me in the least to one day learn, that she has found her opportune and propitious happiness after promoting a band, known as the "Bouffant Staff", to the top of the charts. Then we have Mr. Mandola, whose charming and coy way of turning a phrase has kept me reeling and whose determination and hard work in tennis have kept me cheering. Last, but not least, is Miss King, whose inexorable strength, sheer will, and tenacity will bring her far in life. Estella will travel to unsurpassed heights and I realize that one day I'll be able to say I knew her. To say the least, I'm thrilled that I can stand here and say these are but a few of my colleagues at a place called Alexander Smith Academy. Started by a man with a business mind who we encumber with the credit of creating a special world where we have recognized our potential. This place is a high school and we call ours ASA.

What makes ASA different from the rest of the world? The existence of our allowed individuality and each of us donates a bit of our flair to Dave's planet. We join those who have mocked the difference and made giant steps in the directions toward the rest of their lives. Maya Angelou, writer and poet, devoted one of her novels "to the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and the gods and sing their songs." We are indeed strong birds of promise who have rebelled in every direction possible, attained excellence in the most perishing of adverse possibilities and still remain exactly where our goals demand us to be.

I haven't written a book of any sort, so, I regret to say I cannot leave one to my fellow graduates. What I can do, however, is dedicate myself to informing them just how incredible they all are. No one can tell you enough how special you are and no one ever will. I want to remind you convincingly of the fact that we have succeeded. It can be said that we have found who we are. As I stand here tonight overwhelmed with the eighteen years of memories I am forced to look back upon, I wish to thank those of you who lead us on selflessly in our battles to incorporate good-bye into our summer agenda. I can acknowledge even in myself an inherent desire to resist change, yet, it is detrimental to our lives that we push on unheeded in our journeys to educational bliss. And to anyone out there crying on the inside, but sustaining the biggest smile of the outside that they can manage, I revere your efforts. This my fellow graduates is to benefit us. This is the end of our childhood. And suffice to say that I can understand the tears that so many of you have yet to shed, because smiling on the outside is what I have been doing all along...

Class of 1998

  • Co-Valedictorians: Alexander Almond and Claudia Ziegler
  • Co-Salutatorians: Amy Lauren Cole and Rebecca Sue Lee

The following speeches were given at Alexander-Smith Academy's 1998 Awards Day on Thursday, May 7th at 11:00am, in the school library.

Co-Valedictorian Speech by Alexander Almond '98

Alexander Almond

Our School. Alexander-Smith Academy. The school that has helped shape us to what we are today. Individuals. We thrive on it. The school thrives on it. This is what I appreciate about this school.

On my first visit to ASA, I experienced what probably every single one of us experienced - The Big Man. A tall man dressed in hardcore western wear proceeded to show my mother and I around the non-conventional school. He was up front and loud, yet warm and genial. "What kind of school is this?" I'm sure we all asked ourselves - AND probably more so, our parents. But the fact is, it felt right. Later, when I attended the school, I discovered that, like Dave, we are a school of individuals, all united by a common bond. That bond is the greatness of our school. RESPECT. ENCOURAGEMENT. LOVE. These things flow through all of us here at ASA. That is why I am able to say we are like a big family. All headed on separate paths. All individuals... Encouraged and striving to become better...individuals.

Co-Salutatorian Speech by Amy Lauren Cole '98

Amy Lauren Cole

When I think of ASA, the first words that enter my mind are dynamic, comfortable and unique. I often recognize that ASA does not have a place for everyone when they enroll here. Instead, every person here has carved out their own place within our community. We, the students, conjure the spirit of our school. We realize how fortunate we are; few can say the same. Our school does not mold us; at ASA our personalities are nurtured and respected, our ingenuity is at once challenged and encouraged. Students here are accepted because they show promise. That promise is nourished and developed in this environment. Our brains are picked and tested daily, as are our social skills. It is my hope that years down the road, you will all look back at the time you spent at ASA and realize that your presence, words and actions all helped shape the identity of the school. We are a dynamic society here, unique in our own constituency and relationships. I'm glad to have been a part of it.

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