• Arcadia High’s Graduation Speech From Its Principal

    Below is what AHS principal/Deputy Superintendent David Vannasdall said at the 2012 AHS Graduation ceremony.

    The class of 2012 has faced many challenges in a difficult economic period of budget cuts, staff reductions, and the construction of new facilities.




    Your class has experienced many historic firsts.  Your class participated in the extensive WASC Accreditation process giving student voice to the entire process and contributing to a prestigious Six Year Clear Accreditation (the first time in decades).
    Your class participated in the phone banking, precinct walking and get out the vote campaign to successfully pass Measure A which will raise 3.4 million dollars a year for five years. For that we owe you a great debt of gratitude.  This is a legacy that will not be forgotten, by your school or the entire Arcadia community.


    Your class was the first in AUSD history to experience a “Snow Day” missing school due to the wind storm.


    It is also important to recognize and celebrate the life of Alice Zhang, whose life was tragically cut short in a fatal accident.  We have a seat in the senior line up, decorated in Alice’s favorite color purple, to celebrate her as a runner, classmate, and friend to the class of 2012. We miss you Alice!


    So, after FOUR years of working alongside you and witnessing this unique quality of resiliency, I am confident today to proclaim that you have represented yourselves with pride, dignity, and confidence, upholding the tradition of excellence that will continue to be strong in Arcadia schools.


    This year alone, your class earned top honors in many areas of Academics, Arts and Athletics:


    Your class produced 35 National Merit Scholarship finalists, with an unprecedented 97 students being recognized as Commended Students, double the usual number.


    The Constitution Team won the California State Championship for the second time in three years, and finished 3rd at the “We the People” National Finals in Washington DC.


    Percussion placed 4th at the World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.


    World Guard finished 8th at the World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.


    Marching Band had an exemplary year winning sweepstakes or first place at every competition, then marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.


    Advanced Drama took 2nd place Sweepstakes at the Shakespeare Competition this year and 1st place at the Musical Theater Competition of America where schools from all over the nation participated.


    The Orchestra once again received Gold Medals for their performance in competition at the Heritage Festival in San Francisco.

    At the Diamond Bar Show Choir Spectacular, Chanteurs brought home a 2nd place in their Triple A division and 3rd place overall.


    One senior earned the opportunity to compete for one of four places for the US at the International Chemistry Olympiad Competition.


    A Food Science student won first place at the Art Institute’s Best Teen Chef Competition.


    Academic Decathalon finished 4th at the Regional  Competition which earned them a spot at the State Championships, and where team members collected 9 individual medals.


    Destination Imagination qualified 5 teams for the State Competition.


    One senior qualified for the FBLA National Competition.


    Mock Trial Team went to State Championship for the third time in three years, placing 10th among the 32 counties represented.


    Six students placed in the top 21 of the Pasadena Bar Association’s Second Annual Speech Scholarship Contest which put Arcadia High School in 1st Place.



    Orchesis Dance Team performed in their finest

    Charity Show ever.


    Quiz Bowl earned a trip to the National Championships in Atlanta, GA; one of only a few schools qualifying three separate teams.


    Science Olympiad Team placed 4th in the State Finals.


    Ocean Science Bowl placed 2nd in Regional Competition


    With this class as seniors, Arcadia High School earned a top ranking in both the US News and World Report and Newsweek publications of high schools in the United States.


    Science Bowl won 3rd place in Regional Competition.


    Speech and Debate Team placed 3rd in the Qualifying Tournament and sent 12 students to the State Championships.



    Football, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Girls: Volleyball, Tennis, Golf, and Soccer, and Boys: Golf, Tennis, and Volleyball, plus Swim Team all won Pacific League titles and made it to CIF finals. Seven track athletes made it to CIF individual finals.


    5 ROP students won medals at the Los Angeles County Office of Education for the Outstanding Student Recognition Competition


    And the list could go on.



    But we all know, that after all the accomplishments and awards are given out, experiences and relationships are what life is all about, and what makes Arcadia a very special place.  As our student speakers have shared today, high school is not a single event or a check off on the list of life, but instead, high school is a journey with each challenge and celebration serving as a teachable moment.


    Your journey has not been alone.  Today you sit in front of 8,000 people who have invested directly in your education.  Education is a community business and is only successful when people are willing to invest their resources in your future.


    I want to challenge you, as very soon-to-be alumni, to carry on the Tradition of Excellence by giving back to this great community with your time and resources.


    As our nation and state face very challenging times, I stand here today with hope and confidence that you will be the voices of reason, the soldiers of peace, the protectors of our precious resources, the great inventors, and the ones who will dare to inspire and dream beyond what you are told is possible.


    It has been an honor to be your principal and I am proud of each and every one of you.  I thank you especially for your support and patience with the construction on campus and I can be confident knowing that you will take with you to college the finely tuned skill of finding street parking.


    Wherever your future may take you, please remember you will always be an Apache and have a home here in Arcadia.


    I look forward to your future success.


    Thank You!


    Will Dr. Joel Shawn, Superintendent of Arcadia Unified School District, please join me at the podium?


    I, David Vannasdall, Principal of Arcadia High School, certify that these students have met the requirements for graduation from the Arcadia Unified School District.


    Dr. Shawn, it gives me great pleasure to present to you the Graduating Class of 2012.


    (Joel accepts the class)


    Thank you, Mr. Vannasdall.  As principal of Arcadia High School, Mr. Vannasdall has presented me with appropriate verification that those assembled have met the requirements for the high school diploma as set forth by the State of California and the Arcadia Unified School District.


    Therefore, on behalf of the members of the Governing Board, and Administration, I do accept the members of the class of 2012 as qualified candidates for the high school diploma.


    (Joel sits down, David comes to the podium)


    Staff, please prepare for the awarding of diplomas.

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