Mike McMahon AUSD
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by Benjamin Hoffman

2004 Alameda High School Valedictorian

A lot of people look at graduation, and say that it will give us new oppprtunities,
I think its more than that, I think it gives us many new responsibilities
We live in a world where people of different nations
Fave starvation, extermination
Expolitation, or discrimination.
Based solely on race, religion or sexual orientation
These are the problems that we are facing
Perpetuated by lack of education
But here we are at our graduation.

For the past four years in this community
We've had a unique opportunity
To get a chance to truly see
The value of growing up in unity
And it'll take just a sec
If we take time to reflect
Bout the great effect
How we learned to connect
Protect and respect everyone we meet
Without expecting to collect
And all of this in an atmosphere
That provided not a thing for us to fear
And I'm being sincere when I say I hold dear
The value and promise of these past four years
And we have a responsibility
Because of our recent history
To promote an end to slavery
And poverty, and adversity
Wherever it may be
Until the world is free.
Free from the confines that define
The lives of so many people are resigned
To be living, without giving
Any hope that mankind is not blind

But much of mankind is blind to the suffering that exists
And our first obstacle is going to be conquer ignornace.
But we got to start at home
Gotta conquer our own
Before our true potential can finally be shown
Its been so easy to get caught up in only thinking
About doing drugs or drinking,
Or tripping over how your grades are sinking,
Or that girl you thought you saw winking.
But those days are in the past,
And although the may have been a blast,
This graduation that's come at last, will be marked by contrast.
We are stepping out into a world that's real
Where people feel that they have to steal
Without another way to deal
With the task of finding a meal
No longer is hiding in ignorance acceptable,
No longer can these lives be expendable
Its time for us to put aside the bull
And be commendable and be dependable.
The problems are complex, and have potential to perplex
So we must always continue learning, whateve happens next,
And after teaching ourselves, we got to teach another
We gotta treat the world as of it were our younger brother
Never stop learning from cradle to grave
To gain strength from the brave
And fight for the enslaved
Cuz only through education can this world be saved

If we're not unaware, there is a chance we just don't care
And as we see other despair, we just say "life's not fair"
But this I can't conceive, cuz I know we all believe
That when we care for one another, there is nothing we can't achieve
Today's event will serve as a testament
To represent, the great extent of our discontent
As we lament
A grave injustice long ago
Today several Japenese graduates are recognized
For an opportuinty that they were denied
Replaced by internment, and tear-filled eyes
And as we remember with regret, and stifled tears
At the same time we are given hope, that these are better years,
Today, people from opposing sides
Of violent historical divides
With their hearts and minds open wide
Can be seen walking hand in hand.
This is what Alameda had been all about
But as we all go on our own different routes
We'll encounter intolerant people day in and day out
But its important to recall
That these people weren't born with such gall
It just how they were taught since before they could crawl
And that leaves us with hope, that there's a way off that slippery slope
And all these people need is for us to toss them a rope
To help them replace thier ambivalence with tolerance
And beign to appreciate our every difference
As they find some sense, and stop acting so dense

So we've recognized the problem and want to participate
In ending hate, and yet the world awaits, with us trapped behind a gate
A gate created by fear
This 9/11, orange alert threat
White powder in the mail making you sweat
Insane with duct tape and cellophane
In this arcane campaign to abstain from pain
Every time we see the world getting scarier
Our first response can't be to build another barrier
We got to tear them down, and stop sounding the alarm
And instead open our hearts and open our arms
To embrace the world, and all of those in need
From those who bleed, to those that can't read
In order for us to move ahead
We gotta get out from hiding under our beds
Instead of continuing to spread the fear we've been fed
And once we're not afraid, we will refuse to fade
And answer those who've prayed
For someone to come
To their aide
But I fear most
Is that with all the problems we host
You'll think the world's toast
And all that's left is a ghost, cold and morose
From coast to coast
And lose all hope, cuz we're not even close.
And as we see the depression
Caused by years of oppression
And violent aggression
We get the impression
Of such lost impressions
Have become resigned to the repression
As we ask ourselves the question
I'm only one person, what can I do?
Well to this I remind you all, history is made by only a few.
Never let your apathy, impede your sympathy
To the point where you fail to see
To unlock the chains and set the world free
Never underestimate
A small group willing to dedicate
Their lives to something great
With intellect, courage and humanitarian trait
And in the four years that I've gotten to know this class, I believe THAT is our fate.
Our lives will have meaning and we'll have stories to tell
Fighting to the end as the world goes to Hell
The journey won't easy, and we get beat
But at least we'll be right there, and have a front row seat.


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Last modified: July 6, 2004

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.