By Gina Kim
Speaker-at-large Keanu LyDay described Central Coast New Tech High School’s Class of 2018 as “ohana,” which means “family,” he told his fellow graduates at Saturday’s commencement ceremony in Nipomo.
That’s the difference between New Tech and other high schools with over 2,000 enrolled students, along with the unique type of 21st century learning that embodies innovative education, LyDay said.
“Our freshman year, there was still dirt over there, and our campus was half the size it is now. We’ve faced unique experiences,” he said.
“We have experienced education so powerful that it’s shaken up the system and has proven to be an example of what education should look like.
“We’ll stay connected as a family, because you can’t break up a family like ours,” he continued. “As we leave here and start our next journey, continue to prove your doubters wrong. Continue to put your best foot forward.”
On a final note, LyDay quoted Jimmy Dean: “‘I can’t change direction of the wind, but I can always adjust my sails to get to my destination.’
“So when times are a bit tough, LyDay said, “find your inspiration, value, remember those answers, and if the wind changes, simply adjust your sails.”
Like LyDay, other student speakers emphasized the meaning of family, what it meant to be a dire wolf (the school’s mascot) for the last four years and the decision to join an institution that was so different from other public schools and embodied unconventional ways of learning.
“This is the last time I’ll see all of you in one place in the foreseeable future,” said Geoffrey Smith, one of three class valedictorians. “We got something special here. We’ve spent countless hours procrastinating together and gave presentations with three-quarters of the people sitting around you.
“Without each and every single one of us, this high school experience wouldn’t be quite the same,” Smith continued. “So, on this last day of us, I want to take one last moment to take in the feeling of us. I don’t know about you, but to me, this feels like home.”
In his speech, Associate Student Body President Joseph Gocke also thanked his fellow graduates for being his third family throughout the last four years, and highlighted some of 2018’s greatest accomplishments — from the establishment of the Robotics Club “to the best athletes New Tech has ever seen.”
“The only way I think we can be better is if we went to the Olympics,” Gocke said. “Oh wait, we already did! Thank you, chemistry!”
“I came to Nipomo knowing nobody — just my parents and sister. Now, I can proudly say I have three families: I have my blood, work family and now I have you guys.”
Gocke added: “Coming to this school was one of the best decisions of my life; otherwise, I would’ve been lost among 2,000 other students in a big school. New Tech helped all of us grow and I’m proud to be a part of that growth.
“We’re not the first, or second, but the third graduating class. Well New Tech, third time really was a charm,” he said, which was met with cheers.
At the end of his speech, Gocke told the students to look for a bag taped underneath their chair. As each student ripped open the bag, he gave them one final reminder to keep in touch as a family:
“We have an Instagram handle you can follow for our 10-year reunion,” he told the class. “If you don’t have Instagram, it’s OK. I bet you have my number after all the team contracts we’ve done,” which was met with laughter.
Principal Christian Holst delivered the final message to the graduating class of 75 students.
“Thank you to every one of you that took a risk with your fellow students on this journey,” he said. “When you joined, New Tech was in its third year and for many, it was still an unknown.
“I can safely say thanks to you all, New Tech is not an unknown, and we’ve come to our own. You helped shape and define this educational program.”
He added: “You created art with math, engaged in political discourse with actual politicians, and in order to walk across the stage, you had to give a defense of learning where you had to argue that you gained the skills necessary to be college and career ready.
“New Tech, like Asgard, isn’t a place; it’s a people. You heard me say this before, and I’ll say it to you one last time: You all are beautiful people. And now, it’s time to be beautiful somewhere else.”