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4 minutes reading time (708 words)

For Gabe Rothenberg, transformation

AHS graduation speeches: 2019 class gift

Gabe Rothenberg, Class Counsel representative, an Arlington High School speaker on June 4, 2022. At right, 2019 class gift, showing the old school.

Good afternoon class of 2022, parents, friends, families and beyond. 

Before I begin, I’d like to recognize the hard work and impressive leadership of our class president, Nishaad [Vinayak]. I’m sorry that Nishaad is not speaking today, but his accomplishments over the last three years speak for themselves. So let’s give him a hand.

Over the last few months, walking through the links every morning on my way to geography class has become kind of entertaining. Despite the old hallways’ sweltering heat and stale smell, glancing out the windows that overlook the courtyard -- or the dirt mound that used to be the courtyard -- has been weirdly fascinating. There’s a certain suspense in seeing which classroom crumbles next, or guessing when the clock tower would finally crash down.

Bittersweet goodbye

It’s been a bittersweet kind of goodbye. Sure, the old buildings were far from perfect, but watching through the glass as classrooms I once learned in, the auditorium I performed in, and the cafeteria we all ate in got torn down, it felt as if I were witnessing memories being thrown away into a construction dumpster. But luckily, that’s just not the case. 

I realize that years from now, I’ll still remember Ben Racicot’s Friday announcements, driving to the Cape for the boys’ hockey game, ping-pong club, Mr. Dangel’s public-speaking class and who can forget the banjo-playing dinosaur. And I hope you all will hang on to your good memories, too.

The transformation of the building we inhabited, mirrors our own growth as a class. Just four years ago, we walked up the steps and through the pillars of what was, to us, a brand-new school. We still had fidget spinners in hand, and “Astroworld” was completely dominating the music game. 

But we transformed, too. Some of us learned how to 3D print their own fidget toys, and others composed incredible pieces of music of their own.

Our other accomplishments as a class are nothing short of exceptional. We’ve started up multiple businesses, we’ve had 34 all-star athletes recognized, and two league MVPs honored in our senior year alone. We’ve also totaled 2,670 hours of National Honor Society community service, and over 20,000 hours of community service as a whole.

*Pause for claps.*

That’s far more than we were required to do, which shows our character. Whether it was working with food banks, cleaning up the bike path, assisting people in Ukraine, or taking a stand against gun violence, our class clearly wants to make a real difference in the world. 

Class highlights

Our obligation now is to continue facing problems, and challenging ourselves. But there isn’t just one way to do that.

  • One of us, Paris Bishop, is training to become a pro wrestler.
  • Robbie Khazan, our class’ “most likely to be a billionaire” superlative, started a nonprofit that provides free coding classes to kids, including children in Kenya.
  • Then there’s Collin Cooper, who plans to become a National Park ranger.
  • And Audrey Loeb, a future rower for UCLA.
  • Our grades’ official photographer, Sophia Gould will be studying graphic design.
  • *And Dhruva Ram has written and composed . . . an entire musical! Can you tell I run the future-plans Instagram account? I could do this all day. *Pause.* The point is, each of us has our own unique path to take, and as you can see from these examples, the possibilities are truly limitless.

*Pause.*

The transformation we hope to see in the world begins with us. So let’s push ourselves to rise to the occasion, and fulfill that promise through action.

When we come home to visit, Arlington High won’t be the same. And neither will we. But some meaningful things will remain: the memories we share, the spirit we possess, and our desire to make an impact. That’s why our place at Arlington High School is solidified forever (and I mean that literally, we’re placing a time capsule in one of the new walls).

Congratulations seniors! We did it. 


This expression of opinion at the 2022 Arlington High School commencement was published Monday, June 6, 2022.

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