Salutatorian Ian Sills’ speech at the 2019 San Benito High School commencement ceremony
To my family, words cannot express my gratitude. Desde el momento que nací mamá y papá, abuelo y abuela, ustedes me han apoyaron y enfatizaron cómo seguir adelante. To my friends, thanks for always showing me a good time. Vanson you’ve been beyond a best friend, you’ve been a brother. Evan, I can’t wait to see you become the CEO of Union Pacific and build an art deco skyscraper in Hollister. Trent, literally, thank you next. And Sean, my BLF, or Best Lanky Friend, I know you’re going to have a blast at Berkeley, but go, Cardinals! To my teachers, thank you for your guidance. Mrs. Lee who held my hand as I cried over not being able to read the word “orange” at Miner Elementary School in San Jose. Mrs. Barr who structured us unruly kids at Cerra Vista. Mr. Smith who inspired a sense of academic interest and empathy in us all at Rancho. Mr. Moore who gave us nightmares about note-taking. And Lastly, Mr. Johnson, one of the smartest faculty members on campus, alumnus of Berkeley (Again, go, Cardinals!), and after 37 years of dedication and instruction who has decided to retire, you will be missed. Lastly, to my classmates, I venture to say that we’ve accomplished quite a feat.
And not only have we labored, studied, struggled and accomplished so much, but we have done it at a truly remarkable time. Never before have we seen the advent of such great technological change. Truly, the bond between Silicon Valley and our small rural city has never been closer.
This year we achieved what some believed to be impossible. In years past whenever one would walk to class, they oh so courageously took the risk of embarking on a perilous crossing. No amount of social dilemmas or physical ailments compared with the struggle and fear of crossing the infamous Nash Road. Now after so many years and oh, so many thousands of casualties, the great divide between our school has been sealed off—Nash road has been closed! (And it didn’t even cost $5 billion in fencing). Current and former Balers, we may now walk from history to English without the fear of becoming history. Rejoice, Nash Road is closed! Yes, yes, the future of the school like the future of my fellow classmates is bright and full of opportunity.
The class of 2019 is the most prepared and well equipped class to leave the congested parking lots of our school. My fellow classmates have taken the philosophy of enlightenment thinkers to heart and incorporated, logic, reasoning and above all, skepticism into their life. We no longer merely obey the commanding, tyrannical sound of a fire alarm and assume our well-being is in danger. Ha! We scoff at the mere sound of it! We now hear that all too familiar noise and deduce it as the consequence of a fellow classmate’s experiment with vaporized gas. We are ready to challenge the presence of fake news and misinformation, so prepare for a surge in well educated young adults going to the polls in 2020. Although we will no longer have the well balanced, unbiased information of Baler news to guide us in our daily lives, we will now have go to the most reputable sources for information: such as our friend’s tweets, snapchat stories, and of course… meme pages. Our childhood paralleled the rise of the smartphone and social media. Thus we have developed a broad command over social media, which has allowed us to speak our minds instantaneously across thousands of miles. Where in years past, people were constrained by verbal communication, we all have the power to be rational, eloquent activists waiting to denounce instances of injustice across the world. And, this is no more emphasized than when the entirety of our school put our differences aside and united to unearth who the owner of Hollister memes was.
All attempted jokes aside, guys, we’re about to start a new chapter in our lives. Wherever life takes us, let us all take comfort in the fact that we hail from a special place. Whether your family has been here for generations or you moved here in the fourth grade like me, Hollister means home. We are about to embark on a monumental crossing. For some of us, we’ve spent our whole lives waiting to take these steps and know exactly what lies on the opposite side. For others, the crossing is not merely an intermediate step to a location, but instead a vehicle driven by chance and destiny which will open up the wonders of life regardless of life path. The time has come y’all. Like the gates between Matson and O’Donnel, the gates of high school have closed. It is safe to cross over. So go, go on and cross Nash road into your future!