Graduates say it's great to dream big ... or small

The Class of 2012 at Jonathan Law High School learned how to be loud a long time ago, said Shelja Patel, class salutatorian during graduation exercises Tuesday night.
The graduating senior said her generation learned the trait from rap artist Snoop Doggy Dog when they were just starting out in the world.

“Seventeen years ago we listened to his hit Crazy, and the class of 2012 learned to drive you crazy,” she said. “The class of 2012 can hurt your ears, but we don’t bite. The class of 2012 can get in your face, but we don’t sting.”
She thanked teachers and staff at Law, saying, “Thanks for letting us be who we are, even when it hurt your ears.”
And apparently while loud, they are dreamers. Class Valedictorian Bhaswati Chattopadhyay talked about the dreams they shared, and how she and her classmates started high school with dreams about what they wanted to become as adults, visions that may have changed since their kindergarten days of dreaming about being astronauts.
“Regardless of the paths our dreams have taken recently, here we all stand today, with our old astronaut dreams, some of us under the height requirement and without 20/20 vision, and all of us affected by NASA budget cuts,” she said. “We must accept that all the dreams we’ve every had are not going to come true — not because of external circumstances, but because we have all personally grown beyond those dreams.”
She said dreaming will be a constant, and collectively, the class will continue to dream of a better world.
Jenny Taing, salutatorian at Foran High School, told her fellow graduates that dreaming big is fine, but it’s okay to dream small, too.
“Sometimes we feel like dreams are only for those who are extremely passionate, or those who have a talent,” she said. “And then we worry because we feel like not having one means that we are lacking in some way. Everyone always says to dream big.”
But dreams don’t have to be lifelong journeys, she continued. They can be short and simple, and piece together to create a meaningful life. She recalled that when she was in sixth grade her dream was to talk with a British accent. Later, she set her sights on retracing her family’s journey by visiting her grandfather’s village in China and her father’s village in Cambodia.
“These little dreams may seem nothing more than random impulses in life,” Jenny said. “But truthfully, they have the ability to describe you so much better than you can describe yourself.
“So take the time to invest in every interest, whim, and dream,” she continued. “Even if it doesn't lead to an epiphany, or a brand new outlook on life, you'll enjoy the journey.”
Thomas Bassine, valedictorian at Foran, spoke not of dreams or rappers, but about feeling connected to one’s life and world.
Thomas said he believes one of the greatest ills people feel is a disconnect from their jobs, responsibilities and family life.
“People do not like to feel like their precious energy is wasted on impersonal forces beyond their control, and certainly, for me personally, the feeling I loathe more than anything else is alienation from what I am doing,” Thomas said.
He advised his classmates to be a real participant in everything they do, even the most mundane of tasks, and to draw strength and learning from even the most difficult chores.
“An old expression goes, ‘Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,’ but for me I consider the term work more liberally as a synonym for thoroughly engaging in life itself,” Thomas concluded.
The speakers, along with school officials and class presidents, voiced their farewell words Tuesday evening at Jonathan Law and Foran High Schools. Between the two high schools, more than 460 students graduated.