Mid-Pen said goodbye to the Class of 2019 on June 1, when 24 seniors received their diplomas at the school’s 39th commencement exercises.
In a long-standing school tradition, any senior who wanted to was invited to speak at Graduation. The five students who spoke this year represented a class that, despite its small size, was as diverse as any graduating class in recent years.
Jeannessa Lurie ’19 reflected on the many individuals–friends, parents, and teachers–who have helped her grow from the middle school student who wanted to attend Mid-Pen because of its dragon mascot to the college-bound senior who has found new confidence as an artist, musician, and athlete. “I would like to thank all the teachers here for giving 100% to their students.” she said. “No matter what you are struggling with, there is always a teacher available to help you. Mid-Peninsula has built us all up and given us the foundation for our future. Now that you’ve got that foundation, keep building upwards, dragons!”
Dramatically reaching into the folds of his gown and removing a roll of green and a roll of yellow duct tape, Nathan Cooper ’19 drew an analogy between the sticky tape and the important memories made in high school. “Now the thing with duct tape is that things stick to it... things like our friends, our families, and the accomplishments and memories we’ve made as people and students,” he said.
After being home schooled in middle school, Rebecca Newman ’19 said she learned both independence and self-advocacy in her four years a Mid-Pen, but that wasn’t all. “While gaining independence was a key part of my Mid-Pen journey, I gained something equally important: a Mid-Pen family,” she observed. “Without such a loving and wonderful community during this transformative time, these four years wouldn’t have gone by so quickly."
Expressing thanks for the full scholarship he received to attend Mid-Pen, Ernesto Valencia Arevalo ’19 recalled how scared, nervous, and excited he was to travel from his native El Salvador to attend school in the United States. It was the kindness his classmates and teachers showed him that immediately convinced him he had a home here. "The most important advice I have from what I learned on my first day of school is you should never stop being kind.” he said. “It doesn’t matter how small or big a gesture you do. Being kind, caring, and accepting of others will make a difference in someone’s life.”
Chi Hin “Davey” Feng ’19 spoke about the challenge of coming from China with what he thought were solid English skills, only to realize how much he still needed to learn. “Instead of being made fun of for my accent and misuses of grammar and words, as I certainly would have if I decided to go to a larger high school, what I received from Mid-Pen was care, support, encouragement, and countless hours of one- on-one writing assistance. Over the span of four years, all of my teachers have not only imparted me with the invaluable knowledge needed to go beyond high school into college and what’s beyond, but they have also acted as a light in my life, which inspires me step by step.”
This year’s alumni speaker was Kenia Miranda ’14, who encouraged students to persevere through even the most difficult times. Kenia recalled being brought to the U.S. as a child by her mother, who was seeking asylum while fleeing the domestic abuse she had experienced in Mexico.
“If there is anything you should take away from my story, it is that your struggles do not define you,” she said. “They make you stronger and more persistent on your dreams. They make you resilient to withstand any adversity that you may face. Your struggles have the potential to guide you in the direction of what you are most passionate about.”