Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - June 10, 2011

Class of 2011

This year's graduates share their experiences and their hopes

by Glenn Wohltmann

Thirteen years of work comes to a culmination today with 1,166 members of the class of 2011 scheduled to don caps and gowns and walk the stage to receive diplomas and accolades from faculty, family and friends.

That's in addition to the 70 from Village High School and 10 from Horizon high School who were scheduled to receive their diplomas on Wednesday.

Commencement, as the saying goes, is the beginning, not the end, but while they're looking to the future, some graduates are also thinking about the past. The Pleasanton Weekly asked for essays from some members of the class of 2011 to share memories of their time here and what they hope for the future.

A new pair of sneakers

By Xanth El-Sayed, Amador Valley High School

When I get a new pair of sneakers, I am immediately struck with a feeling of excitement. Every day I eagerly slip them on and every night I reluctantly take them off. Eventually, they wear out and I am forced to venture out and buy a new pair of shoes.

In many ways, my past four years at Amador Valley High School were like going through a pair of sneakers. When my parents told me I would be attending AVHS in the fall, I was nervous but I was also excited for the new experiences my pair of "AVHS sneakers" would bring me. I discovered that I was right to be excited: Both academic and extracurricular opportunities flourish at Amador. In my four years alone, I was able to take a multitude of AP and honors classes as well as become involved in many extracurricular activities, such as Leadership, Friends in Service to Him (FISH) club, and Amador Valley's We The People Team (or Competition Civics).

While my experiences at Amador have helped me try many things and go through a plethora of experiences, my time as a high school student is done. As I move on to study at UC Santa Barbara, I will use my experiences at Amador to help guide my path in college. I might pursue a degree in biology after taking AP biology at Amador. Or I might combine my experiences on Amador's Competition Civics team with those of AP biology and pursue a career in environmental activism. Even though I am not 100% sure of what major I might pursue, in the end, I can only hope that the friendships, opportunities and experiences I have walking in my new pair of "UCSB sneakers" parallel those I had in my four years at Amador Valley High School.

Pleasanton, Class of '11 and Words of Wisdom

By Stephanie Munro, Foothill High School

The fast-paced atmosphere I have come to know and "love and hate" at Foothill High seems to suddenly be caught in slow motion. From yearbook signing to teachers desperately sharing every life lesson they can, it's all a haze and we are beyond ready to move on. Yet, even as I join the throng of high school seniors counting down the days to graduation, I can't help but reflect upon my past because my future wouldn't be possible without it. Now we're all reveling in our title as Class of '15 when we need to always remember that we were part of '11 first. So though I look forward to my upcoming adventure at Pepperdine University, I choose to always remember my time at Foothill High.

Rallies, football games, tests galore ... every chant, every ticket, and every study session is still etched into my mind. It was definitely a challenge to balance Foothill's rigorous academics whilst keeping my social life afloat. I would be lying if I said stress never got the best of me, but with the help of Pleasanton's wonderful teachers, I somehow made it work. It was with their support that I sent backpacks to children in South Africa, organized HealthQuest, stood in front of the Rotary as a Student of the Month, and proudly accepted awards for citizenship, leadership and civic engagement. Besides learning statistic chi-squared equations and reading 17th century Spanish sonnets, Foothill High and its teachers taught me the ultimate lesson: I have something to give back to the world beyond straight A's.

Above all, I want to thank you, Linda Gullick, for making me first realize life's true importance and all that Foothill has to offer me. That's why you'll be handing me my last award: my diploma. So as I shake your hand on that stage today, I look forward to sharing my moment of clarity of everything I have done and everything I will do. I will finally understand.

What does it mean to graduate?

Jasmin Talisschim, Village High School

It means to achieve one step and enter a bigger one next

Growing from a teen girl to a lady

Becoming independent by receiving your diploma

All of the hard work finally paid off

You tried your best to succeed

Parents are enormously proud

Friends cheer and celebrate with you

You finished a large chapter of your life

That is indescribable to write

The words "giving up" are forgotten in the past

Because you made it this far and showed

That you can last

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