Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coxsackie-Athens High School Valedictory Speech 2010

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Here I Stand
Erica Goldson


        There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." 
The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast - How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I
really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" 
Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."
        This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.
        Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.
        I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.
        John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.
        H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not
      to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)
        To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?
This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.
        And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.
        We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.
        The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be - but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.
        For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.
        For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.
        For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.
        So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.
        I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

"Graduating with honors will provide many advantages when applying for a doctoral degree, as it's an obvious demonstration of your capabilities as a student and a professional."
 

406 comments:

  1. Wow -- heard about your great speech via another unschooling mom on Facebook and found your blog as I tried to verify it myself on-line. Loved your speech! I'm appreciating the tremendous work ahead of you in reclaiming those parts of your Self you seek to re-integrate, as well as the Joy in Seeing and Living clearly, which you obviously are doing now.

    Congratulations!

    ~ (another) Erica, in New Paltz

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  2. Thought provoking, outside-the-box ideas. If you were an employee or decision maker working in our public-education system, what specific changes would you implement? What type of feedback did you receive after your speech? Enjoy your journey, I suspect it will be fascinating and fruitful.
    Kim

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  3. Like "(another) Erica", I heard about it through another unschooling mom's Facebook and was looking for verification before I shared it around. *Awesome* speech! Thanks so much for speaking these words to people: I hope they take root and help make a difference!

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  4. Thank you for your wonderful speech. I, too, am here to verify the speech and have now shared it on FB. [Seems us unschooler types tend to question what we read] I am spreading this far and wide. As a former High School teacher and current unschooling dad I am glad that you were able to get through the system and spread the word. Good luck out in the world. Keep both eyes on the path.

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  5. Every so often in today's society, we learn of someone that has graduated and began the journey into humanity. My hat is off to you for not only beginning this journey, but in declaring it within your community.
    Our educational system is broken. We don't teach thought, life, compassion, humanity or living. We teach only to the tests. Every once in a while, if you are lucky, you come across a great teacher, like Donna Bryant, that opens your eyes to life. Giving you the strength and courage you need to open yourself up to all life has to offer.
    I am glad that you found that one special teacher and was given the opportunity to share with the world.
    Continue now on your journey with great conviction and strength. Continue to seek experience, love, life and all that matters to who you are. You can go far. You can go greatly. The choice has always been yours.
    Good luck!
    Eley Standridge

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  6. Bravo, bravo, Erica! I'm posting your speech/link on my blog. It too real guts to stand and say what you say and I commend you. You are wise beyond your 18 years and I know you will succeed in your pursuit of your dream.

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  7. Wonderful speech Erica! I think you are off to an excellent start!
    Peace and Laughter,
    Cristina (homeschooling mom of three)

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  8. It was an absolute pleasure and delight to read this when it came through on a UK home education forum. All the very best for your future - I'm certain you have a very bright one ahead of you, no matter what you choose to do with it!

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  9. homeschooling/ unschooling mom here. just wanted to congratulate you on your emancipation from institutionalism. perhaps you have a future as a teacher ;)

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  10. You are going to do just fine. You have the ability to put your thoughts into words that stir so many emotions into people. I hope that my three sons have the courage you displayed in your speech as they grow up. Enjoy life and I pray you find your place in College that helps you to cultivate the self you wish to become.

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  11. I'm so glad that it wasn't just me thinking these things in high school, I'm now out of college and found that experience not much better. I didn't really do the school hunting I was supposed to, but I got that degree everyone seems so happy for. But, it's still a lot of teaching down to the students who don't learn in the lecture setting and not a lot of room for challenging the professors with tenure. I feel like I have to through this in there as well, I graduated in the top 10% of my class in high school, which was the only reason I didn't search for colleges--I was granted scholarship to the University of Arizona (which is a good school if you get the right teachers) then I moved out of the state after 2 years at that school and signed up with the affordable California State University (which needs a lot of work and the few good professors are amazing).

    College is not what I would call "mind opening" if you already think the way you do. If you already see the flaws in the established system, you will see the same flaws in college.

    Maybe we can work together to change it to be a truly child-centered, free-schooling, exploring atmosphere?

    Best of luck,
    Sarah Caine
    sarah.a.caine@gmail.com

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  12. Just read this via The Well-Trained Mind forum. I was valedictorian of my class almost 20 years ago and knew how to work the system too. College wasn't any better. If anything, I cared less and streamlined more. The good thing was that I finally let go of my desire for the letter grade, but even that was more about not doing "extra" than it was about caring more about actually learning.

    I home-educate my kids and am re-educating myself now. Its amazing what elementary kids can learn and care about!

    I encourage you to read the writings of Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the early 1900s, who stressed how much a child cares is more than what he or she knows. Charlotte Mason taught rigorous curriculum but with a focus on the beauty of life and spirit.

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  13. Wow, I graduated from high school over 30 years ago - but I felt EXACTLY like you. So it seems things have not changed in a long time. I hope your ability to verbalize what so many others feel will help to change the situation!

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  14. Oh and one more thing - let your dreams and imagination thrive (even though the educational system we have in America doesn't nurture those things).

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  15. Brilliant speech, and summarizes so much of what it took me over 40 years to learn. I have a feeling I'll be reading about this young woman again -- I can't wait to see what she writes and creates!

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  16. I just wanted to thank you for sharing this speech. I am still enjoying the tingles of inspiration vibrating up and down my spine. I hope it is okay that I forwarded it to my Facebook wall. Well done, thanks again, and all the best!

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  17. Thank you so much for having the courage to get up in front of your teachers, your classmates and their parents and saying this! You articulate my own feelings during high school, and to echo so many others here, university is no better. It took me until I was 28 or so to be able to articulate these feelings in an intelligible way myself, and now - despite my better judgment - I'm back for more of the same at a higher level as I pursue a Master's Degree. I took five years off after graduating with my bachelor's, a decision which no doubt helped me to see behind the veil, as you have, and at such a young age. I tip my hat to you, madam.

    The 'we' of which you speak is taking shape before our eyes, for those with eyes to see and it is an honour to count you amongst us, the children of the new paradigm. It's a hard path ... a bit like being a secret agent in hostile territory, or a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind (although in this case, that one eye won't make you king.)

    You are very lucky, not to mention perceptive, to have found the work of John Taylor Gatto. If you liked that you might also appreciate the work of Charles Eisenstein, particularly his book The Ascent of Humanity ... I expect it will both open your eyes just a bit wider than they already clearly are, and perhaps even help you to articulate the vision we can all feel bursting forth from our hearts ... 'The more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible', in Eisenstein's formulation.

    Again, thank you. I've been at an astronomy conference for the past few days and grinding my teeth at their studied ignorance of reality ... too much of that grinds down the soul. Reading this was rejuvenatory.

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  18. Oh! And I should mention, I found this when it was linked by <a href="http://www.sott.net/'>Signs of the Times</a>, a news aggregator run by a team of hard-headed mystics who have made Truth with a capital 'T' their one over-riding commitment in life. You may perhaps find it a valuable resource.

    Also, I've linked this speech on facebook. I want everyone I know to read this.

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  19. Dear Erica,
    Wow! What a powerful valedictorian address! Please don't lament your past 12 years as wasted time, as opportunities lost. Your thoughtful and thought-provoking words stand as proof that you survived the experience intact. You may have been slowed down in your personal evolution a bit but I have no doubts that you will rebound in a very big way during your college years. Congratulations! Thank you for reminding us homeschooling parents that we are on the right track despite all the resistance we encounter and the doubts we may experience along the way . I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your great adventures to come.
    Warmest regards,
    Joan Champi

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  20. This is amazing! Thank you for putting it so much better than I ever could have! I am a homeschooling mom and this speaks to me!

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  21. Didn't some long lost relative take a video of your speech? I hope you'll post it to YouTube - It will really have a huge impact there - most of us well trained slaves don't like to read. My best wishes to you Erica, you are the change we need now!

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  22. Erica, you have a tremendous gift to share with the world...the gift of wisdom. King Solomon himself asked for wisdom and was blessed with great wisdom and riches. Your wealth is in the passion that moved you to not only write those truths, but in the courage that moved you to action in speaking them before a mixed crowd of believers, unbelievers and soon-to-become believers. Bravo! I am so anxious to hear more about you and the movement that this is in perfect alignment with; not just the deconstruction the education system as we know it, but the rediscovery and reclamation of the freedom that it our birthright! Cheers for your awakening and congratulations on your wise use of the opportunity you earned.

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  23. Good one Erica! ... This should be required reading for every grade school student. Please keep that thought and may your journey be filled with wonders and happiness!

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  24. Erica,

    First of all, excellent speech! I think it should be required reading today on the level of the United States Constitution.

    Second, I would like to give you a link to the web site for a movement I recently started, with the goal of ultimately breaking the young people free of the shackles of indoctrination, by the power of the young people demanding and taking what they need. It's called the Restroom Laws Movement, and I'm encouraging students in the compulsory school system to stop asking permission to use the restroom, as the school gains tremendous power over the students when the students allow such basic functions to be controlled by those they allow to be in authority. The web address is http://RestroomLawsMovement.com/ In particular you should check out the open letter.

    It seems that we are working for the same thing. I hope that you might get back to me and we can converse on the subject. I think that you have a most worthy goal.

    My email is brandon [at] restroomlawsmovement [dot] com

    Peace,
    Brandon R. Farmer

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  26. Rock on! I'm reposting this to my own blog, where teachers like me are building a movement to improve education and grow Thinkers like you!

    --Sabrina
    [at]TeacherSabrina on Twitter
    http://failingschools.wordpress.com

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  27. Absolutely amazing!! You have a good grasp on so many things that I never realized until I was a parent and wanted the best for my children. Congratulations on getting through the system! I am sure you will go far in life, you are already on a great path!

    ~~Sommer, homeschooling mom to 4 children who are allowed to be who they are and think their own thoughts.

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  28. It sounds like you learned a lot, Erica. Good luck on the challenging path you have chosen. It is wonderful that there are young people like yourself who will take us forward. It took me a long time to learn to think for myself; you are way ahead of the game.

    Eleanor, HS Class of 1958

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  29. Congratulations on being able to master the institution and see through it at the same time. Your description of the purpose of the educational system is spot on. I suggest to you that you consider the question "Why should we pay to live on the planet we were born on?" because it is the need/greed for money that warps the educational system in the way you have described. When we abolish the idea of needing jobs to make money to pay for things, we will all be truly free to learn rather than merely being trained to conform.

    Kellia HS Class of 1973
    I will send a copy of your speech to some blogs I know. Here is a link you might find interesting:

    www.abolishhumanrentals.org

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  30. I saw the link to your blog on a friend's Facebook page this evening, and it goes to the heart of my own "mission in life" as well! I am an American expat, teaching high school in Finland. While the system here has its own serious problems, encouraging original and critical thinking, I must say, works a lot better here. Intro to Philosophy and Intro to Psych are required courses in order to graduate, and those lead to a far more active exploration of the students' own minds. I'd like to see the same introduced back in the States. Interested in going further in promoting this cause? If so, please get in touch!

    David Huisjen
    dhuisjen2@gmail.com
    (also fairly easy to find on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter)

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  31. Great piece Erica.

    Check out School Sucks podcast.

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  32. My two sons, 2 years old and 9 months old, will both be home schooled. If they ever have a desire to attend public school they will have that choice; but only after reading your wonderful speech. It really hammered home all the things which compulsory education fails at, that homeschooling/unschooling can provide. A class size of 2 is far better, after all, than a class of 30-60. Thank you again for your inspiring and thought provoking insights.

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  33. Great speech and outside-the-box thinking.
    You'll enjoy this article:

    http://www.theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/print/

    Solitude and Leadership

    Posted By William Deresiewicz On March 1, 2010
    The lecture below was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October of last year.

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  34. Tremendous speech! I encourage you to check out these two links. They will expose you to a whole new world of people who have learned to think for themselves. The education I have gotten from these sites has been invaluable and I believe you will think so too. Good luck in the future.

    http://mises.org/

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/

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  35. I have great respect for you. The decisions you made put you in a position to shed light on this issue, whereas I felt the same way, and decided to abandon the system instead.

    I wish you luck, and I hope that you continue with your search for truth. The future is in our hands, only we can undo the damage the system has done.

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  36. Blown away by a person so young. Maybe a new kind of humanity is possible. May my children see it, too. Thank you.

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  37. You have a large group of like-minded people and patriots at www.dailypaul.com. Your speech was just posted there, and there are many comments which you'd probably like to read. Dr. Ron Paul is the champion of the ideas and philosophy you espouse. It's called Freedom. And www.dailypaul.com is where you can educate yourself and engage in activism to help the Cause.

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  38. Well done!! I am in my 30's and realized that I had a slave's education as well. I was reading Plutarch's Moralia "The Education Of Children" vol. 1 and livid with all the time and waste in my public school years. It's great that you were equipped to see through the lies and delusions.

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  39. I found this on a facebook link as well, good to see you've started your own blog - this thing is going viral!

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  40. Erica, what a beautiful and insightful speech. I am a math tutor and Montessori teacher-in-training and I write a blog chronicling exactly the issues you discussed in your speech. (I was also one of the few, lucky Americans who almost entirely escaped traditional schooling.) I wondered if I could quote your speech in full (with attribution of course). It deserves to be quoted and shared as widely as possible.

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  41. That is possibly the best valedictorian speech ever given. I'm not sure if you yourself are a Ron Paul supporter but your speech is actually on the www.DailyPaul.com website. This is how I became aware of your speech. Not only are you intelligent, you are very open-minded. I think that's a rare thing to possess. Congratulations on graduating high school and being valedictorian of your class. Good luck in the future!
    -Jason from Long Island

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  42. Erica, you were able to put into words how many of us feel - not only in the United States but around the world. Rest assured that you are NOT ALONE in your dreams and efforts. Each of us is doing our part to create awareness and save the next generation from the mediocrity and slavery that thwarted the potential of millions of eager students in the past. Share your message far and wide - I will help in any way I can (starting by sharing the link to your blog on my website, Twitter and FB).

    - Pilar, Montessori guide

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  43. What an amazing speech! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I am a home schooling Mom with much the same "soapbox" as you. You are an inspiration for me.

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  44. This is so inspiring now that I am struggling with studies and really frustrated that I don't excel that much. Carry on. :)

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  45. There is a place in this world for everyone! It will be especially interesting to see your journey & destination! Good Luck & get to work :)

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  46. Dear Erica,

    I have travelled the path you travelled. I have learnt that money does not motivate me. I have realised that my passion to help others, to make a difference in their life, gave me much more satisfaction than working in a bank, selling an buying currencies making profits for the bank.

    I became a homemaker eight years ago and lost my compass in my life. Then, by all miracles, or through the prayers i have made to the Lord, I was shown the way how to make full use of the gifts God has given me.

    I didn't realise i was creative. I just thought i am good in many areas but master of none. But now, i have learnt to combine my creativity and my writing skills to write with passion matters that are close to my heart.

    I am unsure what you are doing at the moment of this post, perhaps you might have chosen to join the corporate rat race. Or perhaps, like what you have said in your inspiring speech, you are pursuing your passion.

    Thank you so much for saying the words right out of my heart.

    I believe there are many people like us in the world who are 'misfits' trying to survive in the system our government has made for us.

    Take care and God Bless you in whatever journey you take.....

    Karen Lee Huey Shyan
    http://karenleehs.blogspot.com/

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  47. Erica, this is a wonderful and inspiring text. Thank you for sharing! I totally agree with you that testing people is holding all the people down. The boundaries set by tests and school restrictions that tell when a person is 'good, better, best' limits vast populations in their achievements. Your eloquence is breath taking and inspiring.

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  48. Erica,

    Your valedictory speech is one of the strongest signs of hope I have seen in a long time, and I've been sharing it freely with people young and old. I teach high school English in Colorado and I'm particularly interested in how and what you tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, did to encourage you to open your mind and ask questions. If you have the inclination I would be very interested in knowing more. My email is: garland.aaron@gmail.com.
    Also, you referenced John Taylor Gatto in your speech. Have you read his latest book "Weapons of Mass Instruction"? As you mention starting a pedagogic or educational movement you might be interested in what he calls the Bartleby Project, an excerpt is posted at this site: http://www.oldthinkernews.com/Articles/oldthinker%20news/invitation_to_an_open_conspiracy.htm
    All the best on your most exciting adventure.
    Aaron

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  49. WOW. That is fantastic. I wish I had your insights when I was 18. It took me to my 40s to really understand. You might be interested in this:

    http://www.szandorblestman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=255:to-the-graduates-of-the-government-indoctrination-centers

    It's not as eloquent as your speech, I could only hope to be so eloquent. I am sure you will go on to do great things for your fellow man, for one so learned and full of empathy as you can only succeed. It makes me proud to know that young people are beginning to wake up and discover the true meaning of freedom in spite of the constant indoctrination and brainwashing the corporate establishment bathes them in.

    Szandor Blestman

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  50. Hi, Erica, I was forwarded a link to your speech via the Commission on High Achieving Students of the National Academic Advisors Association. I think you have beautifully captured my own concern about the schooling system in the U.S. becoming more of a certification process than an educational experience. I am really interested to see where you end up going for your college education, and hope that you follow through on your commitment to start (or join) a movement to change pedagogy.

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  51. Hi Erica,

    I printed out your speech and passed it around at my massage school in Syracuse, NY, where we are being subjected to 3 1/2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week of rote memorization of science textbooks--and we are all adult learners, ranging in age from 19 to 60 (that's me). You put into words what we are all feeling. Somehow it helps. I hope you go into education, or journalism, or public service--or all three! You are talented and wise, at such a young age. --Karen

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  52. excellent thoughts, thanks for having the strength to step out and say what you feel! I felt the same as you after graduating top of my class 20 years ago, but never had the brass to verbalize it, I just skirted to system to make it work for me.

    You should also read about Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd). I think you will be able to relate to Dr. Oliver DeMille's analogy of public schools being conveyor belt education. Good luck with your future endeavors, I think you have many adventures ahead of you!

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  53. Great speech! I've shared it at http://www.facebook.com/downsizedc

    While I was not a valedictorian, I did well taking tests in school and have forgotten most of what I "learned." But I know you're better prepared to face the uncertain future than I was (Gatto wasn't writing books when I was in school!). Best wishes, and I hope to see more of your writing!

    James Wilson
    http://www.downsizedc.org
    http://independentcountry.blogspot.com

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  54. This is truly perfect- The fact that you managed to get this beautiful, scathing speech out before they cut your microphone is amazing to me- What a wonderful advocate you are and will continue to be. I hope that you will continue to speak out boldly- It won't be easy- The system tries to keep drowning dangerous, dissenting thinkers, writers and voices. Just keep getting back up! Your family should be very proud of you! -LaurieACouture.com

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  55. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him.

    I'm, among many other things, a worker, and a good one. I find these two sentences insulting and condescending, especially in that it conflates work with slavery and makes a dichotomy between workers and "thinkers."

    a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change.

    As much as I hate corporatism, not each of us is a unique and worthy snowflake. Everybody could be going to Montessori schools and there'd still be the future marketing pukes, used car sales scum, and HR twits.

    Further to a previous point, everybody could be going to Montessori schools and we'd still need toilet cleaners, telephone line repairfolks, waitstaff, and other workers.

    Incidentally, John Taylor Gatto, being a libertarian with some serious privilege issues around women's and poor people's educational history, should be taken with a grain of salt.

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  56. Eric,

    Regarding the above comment posted by "Belle Gunness" I would point out that you imply quite clearly, I think, that by "worker" here you mean someone doing the rote work they are commanded to do by persons in positions of authority, not the work of a person pursuing his or her life calling, or, equally a person who has chosen to serve others and by making that choice acquiesces to the noble work of caring for those who can't adequately care for themselves. This later kind of work is quite different from the tedium of mindlessly being a functionary, a cog in a great machine.

    Perhaps our commentator's insights into the venality of marketers, car salesmen and human resource employees is accurate in so far as their behavior is concerned. Nevertheless, I personally prefer to think of those people as being on-deck, so to speak, to wake up, rather than scum to be condemned.

    I didn't find that your valedictorian's speech implied that were we to have an educational system that taught young people how to think that everyone would grow up to be a poet, a doctor, or a professional dancer, among other coveted professions. There is nothing wrong with either going to a Montessori school nor repairing a telephone line (we still have those don't we). My impression from your speech is that you want to make sure that every telephone line repair person in the future is equipped with the skills of HOW to use his or her mind.

    Finally, I believe I have read nearly every word ever published by John Taylor Gatto, many of them several times over, and never have I come across a single slight toward women or the poor. In fact, just the opposite, he is as far as I can tell one of the most vocal champions for women, the poor, minorities and high school drop-outs, to name a few.

    Keep up the good work and don't forget to check out the Bartleby Project.

    Yours,

    Aaron

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  57. As a product of the public school system, I had absolutely no interests or passion for anything myself. I did not know how to think for myself or even what I thought about things, only what I had been taught to think, what was expected of me. Just did what I was told. I am just now in my mid-40s finding myself, thinking my own thoughts, finding interests and passion. Two sources have helped me in that regard, Charlotte Mason's educational ideas: "For the Children's Sake" and "A Charlotte Mason Companion." And most recently, "The Artistic Mother" by Shona Cole. Shona is an incredible woman who has helped to realize that it's okay to have interests and passions and to pursue them, that it's not only okay, but that it's vital for my well being and mental health. She lays out in her book the steps to take to follow your dreams and interests. She has been such a help to me. I am leading a group of women through the projects in her book through my blog, www.artisticcreationswithtrudy.blogspot.com. We encourage and support one another as we go through this together. This is an incredible journey. I am finally not just doing what is expected of me, but I am using my own mind and becoming the person God made me to be. It is also helping me to help my children to pursue and realize their dreams as well as my thinking changes. Shona's blog is An Artful Life at www.shonastudio.blogspot.com. It's never too late to pursue your dreams.

    Trudy
    www.artisticcreationswithtrudy.blogspot.com &
    www.sewingwithtrudy.blogspot.com

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  58. Erica,

    Congratulations on your excellent speech! I strongly recommend that, if your interested in the subject and still haven't read this, that you check out Ivan Illich's wonderful book, deschooling society:

    http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

    And, also, André Gorz Adieu au prolétariat, here in ts english translation:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7wxpl7sYYCYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Andr%C3%A9+Gorz+Farewell+to+the+proletariat&source=bl&ots=K4D5Gh2fLi&sig=CiQ0GzCsEMDuQOii_YtSsKMgAIg&hl=en&ei=hJxSTNCqOKeWOOjl-J4O&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Best regards,
    Matthias

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  59. Your speech was truly amazing! I'm sure you know by now, but it's caught on like wildfire among the 'truther' and 'patriot' groups on the internet. The Rockefeller funded educational system was setup for indoctrination and nothing more. If you're on facebook, i'd love to pick your brain on some topics. http://www.facebook.com/skuthan

    Mike

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  60. As an educator myself, I am inspired. I hope you keep blogging!

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  61. Absolutely fantastic speech - I can only fully concur with your sentiments entirely. Looking back when I was in school, I think I mostly mastered how to retain the necessary information to help me pass the exams than I did learn a lifetime skill to facilitate me into innovating, inventing, moulding, engineering, painting, assembling something truly remarkable.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not doing too bad, but in the immediate aftermath of leaving the education system I always felt I could have been pushed or guided that much better as we’re all capable of great feats with the right application... nonetheless its never too late.

    Looking at all the comments above, you are an inspiration to many and undoubtedly you will only go on to do great things henceforth.

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  62. Dear Erica,

    Would it be okay for LewRockwell.com to reprint your piece?

    Thank you for your great speech.

    egarris@lewrockwell.com

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  63. I see the request to publish above, and it has been published on lewrockwell.com today (July 31, 2010.) This is the most popular libertarian website in the world. It's going to get a *lot* or readers.

    Congratulations Erica!

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  64. I just gave a speech about roots and passion last month. I believe that they are two of the most important things to any human being. I think you've hit my opinions about education dead on. Thank you so much for expressing the things that many of us find so hard to!

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  65. thanks, perhaps MR. Obama, will put you to work with others. seems many responders here want to work with you, Bill Dare, Ottawa, canada

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  66. Why did the Hudson Valley _Daily Freeman_ newspaper (June 26, 2010) not quote any of this speech but instead these wise lines: "“Remember to hold onto your value system, your work ethic and, most importantly, your humanity,” Goldson said during commencement exercises on Friday. “It is these qualities that will guide you further on your journey.”

    Which is the actual speech?

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  67. An interesting speech, but I must say I can't really relate. I was also a valedictorian about 40 years ago. I will admit that there are many aspects of education that are boring, routine, mechanical ... and absolutely necessary! Education is not all about personal creativity, random explorations, and entertaining topics. The lion's share of education involves building a base that allows you to become a fully rounded vibrant individual in the future. Somebody must at some point taught you how to form a grammatically correct sentence which enabled you to write the speech you gave. I suspect at the time you learned grammar, it was probably not much fun. Likewise for spelling, math, history, science, and on and on. You talk as though education is the end of the journey. In my opinion, education is just the beginning. Now is your chance to take the basics that have been taught to you and use them to make something unique, useful and beautiful. All three things, you will find are important. It is truly a waste to reinvent the wheel. You can argue "useful" I suppose, but as a practical matter you are going to have to feed yourself and creation of the useless will not help you do that. (And, yes, I do think things like art and music are useful...). Finally, I would hope that whatever you decide to do with your life, it will add to the beauty of our world. Keep true to at least these three principles and your education will not go to waste.

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  68. I came across your speech today through an educators' group on Diigo. Wow! I'm a college professor and I worry very much about us "conditioning" our students rather than truly inspiring their independent and life-long learning. Many of your ideas relate to some that I developed on my Academic Evolution blog. You might check this out: http://www.academicevolution.com/2009/01/dear-students.html

    I'm sure you will be a great success and inspire many.

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  69. I am a raging conservative. And although I may not agree completely with someone’s ideals, I sure can appreciate the beautiful message that was delivered.
    I am a small business owner, and have no animosity toward corporatism or materialism (if you can afford it). I also understand money makes the “world go round”, and it has, and will forever be the catalyst to most motivation. I also, do not see this as a negative, and nor do I believe this must change. I do not ponder or bemoan how “mean” or corrupt the world is. I quit looking on the outside and started looking on the inside. News flash: The world is not going to change. So what are you (collective) going to do to make it a better place, and at the same time, achieve your own happiness?
    Erica is right; teaching children to be passionate in their pursuits is not being taught. Instead, towing the line and doing what you are told is the norm. Why do you think most people are workers? They are taught, and have a front row seat to what a worker is. They are taught the only reason you work is to pay the bills. I define a “worker” as: someone who goes to work, puts in their hours, collects a pay check, and hates every minute of it. Whether you are a janitor or you work on Wall Street, and this is your everyday routine; you are a worker. If there is no passion you are conditioned to be a worker. Take for instance the kid in school that was a total cut up in class. You know that kid who couldn’t sit still, talked too much, didn’t listen to the teacher and lived to make people laugh. The same kid that all the “good” students looked down on while they were doing all that extra credit; he’s now the next Jim Carrey. This is the kid who followed his passion and bucked the “system”, and is now living to his potential. By the way, who decided to look down on stay at home moms? If there ever was a profession that was made up with the thinkers and the adventures, it is the stay at home mom!!
    I loved this speech! It gives meaning on so many different levels. And depending on who you are; it can be received in the manner in which it was given.

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  70. Erica (and all of those who commented) - I would *HIGHLY* recommend each and every one of you read Linchpin - by Seth Godin. If you have read it, recommend it to your friends. It has much to say about these very things... and expounds on them even further.

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  71. Ten thousand high fives-- “A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.”~Isabel Paterson http://bit.ly/duBNdZ

    ~Becky
    http://www.facebook.com/becky.chandler1

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  72. I am an educator and I was overjoyed to see someone so young speak of the importance of passion, to see someone stepping back and being critical of what is going on around them and to have the courage to use a forum given to them and express their feelings. Bravo! I will have my students read this and challenge them to live up to your challenge. Thank You!

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  73. @Erica: I salute you. May your tribe grow and prosper. Your country needs many more like you. Should you want to continue your lesson in critical thinking, here you will find the Blue Pill:
    http://csper.org/renaissance-20.html

    "In times of change the learners will inherit the world, while the knowers will remain prepared for a world that no longer exists." ~ (Eric Hoffer)

    Keep learning Erica, there is a new dawn waiting. Peace.

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  74. Wow. I'm in my 40's and still unlearning things I learned in school and learning how to follow my passion. Last night I had a dream that I was coaching a college student to use college as an opportunity to discover himself and what he loved. He was asking me how he would know if he loved something, or if a certin path was the right choice. I responded that he would be able to tell by the amount of joy and passion he felt. He was scared to try. He thought he had to do what was expected of him and was afraid to waste time exploring, considering, playing, dicovering, thinking, learning and enjoying. I'm sure I was talking to that part of myself that still wants to explore, play and discover where my joy and passion are. It's NEVER TO LATE! Enjoy the journey Erica. I'm sure you have many wonderful adventures ahead!

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  75. Excellent Erica. Right on. There is still hope for the youth! The study group that I belong to meets weekly to discuss topics like this, the dangerous path our beloved country is heading towards. Enlightenment may be the answer. I certainly hope so.

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  76. Truly courageous and impressive! You are so fortunate to have had that teach that helped opened your eyes and she was fortunate to have you for a student and willing to open them. Highly recommend checking out Sir Ken Robinson. He did a piece on bringing on the revolution which is on Ted. Ted has many excellent and inspiring pieces. Gives one hope for mankind.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

    Best to you in your future adventures.

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  77. i am soon to be entering my 63d year and it's taken me the better part of my life so far to acquire the wisdom and perspective you have acquired already in your brief span of years... i deeply respect your thoughtfulness and even more the courage to speak your truth... yours is the kind of speech we should hear from our leaders - and we would hear it if they were indeed leaders worthy of the name...

    you and all of us who think in similar fashion have an extremely difficult part to play in this life... we frequently feel like voices crying in the wilderness because we are... it will be tempting - sorely tempting - to lay down our principles and beliefs and simply go along to get along... in fact, sometimes simply in order to remain sane and whole in any given moment, that may occasionally be the wisest course... nonetheless, despite all the obstacles you will face and the contingencies you will have to work with, i hope you never lose the ability to think for yourself and to listen to that still, small voice inside that recognizes truth...

    i don't believe that what you have to say can be disseminated widely enough and, hopefully, you won't mind that i am posting it in its entirety on my own blog, with full credit and a link back to you, of course...

    http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

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  78. You are amazing. Straight up.
    I wonder what you are taking in university next year.

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  79. I'm in a teaching class right now, this popped up on a blog I frequent. How marvelous!! You're dead-on, and it's not just the students but the teachers who get bad education so the cycle continues.

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  80. Congratulations Erica on a brilliant assessment of our education system and the corporatocracy that it prepares you to become a faceless cog in.
    I have been in the advertising industry for 23 years, directing commercials for the last 10, and have become acutely aware of the pervasive dumbing down of our populace by both the education system and mainstream media. Very impressive that someone your age has already become so enlightened to the way this country operates. Keep fighting, stay strong, and spread the word.

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  81. Hi Erica,
    I'm a PhD student who's currently teaching introductory college Composition and Literature classes to students your age, and it warms my heart to hear someone so young already get the important points that I aim to teach every day. While you will have classes in college that both encourage and expect the rote learning you've come to disdain, let me assure you that there are college instructors and professors who, like the commendable English teacher you mention, care more about broadening minds than maintaining test scores. I wish more of my students had this mindset when exiting high school, and I'm confident that you will do well in whatever field you choose for yourself.

    Best wishes in your future!

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  82. Nearly brought me to tears. Thank you!
    I got "out" in 8th grade and did independent study through a couple of school districts. I was able to customize my PE regimen, do community service and take any classes at any school that I wanted as electives, and work as a musician and with my parents, before I graduated at 16.

    I'll see you on the news!

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  83. Developing passion, exercising creativity, and implementing creative solutions are best developed under a mentor, not via classroom instruction. Our American public educational system is not going to abandon classroom instruction, because it cannot afford to. The kind of interaction that helps children develop into thinking, passionate adults should come from parents, rather than expecting an educational system or a teacher in the front of the classroom to instill this.

    http://blog.sloppyedwards.com/educational-breakdown/

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  84. Erica,

    along with many, above, Nice Going.

    also, it may helpful to check into starting a 501(c)(3)..

    (a simple WebSearch, along the lines of: "Starting a 501(c)(3)" will begin to resolve some of the 'first steps')

    it will, I believe, allow you to see additional facets of the *Topic that you are beginning to delineate.

    as always, if you'd have any Q:s ...

    Sincerely,

    Mark E Hoffer.

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  85. Hello, Erica -- Congratulations, for your speech suggests that despite your concerns about "indoctrination" and "brainwashing" you have achieved a creative clarity far beyond your years.

    "Teaching to a test" is not learning, as most people will agree. But if test results are how people (teachers, students, schools) are being "judged" (by school boards, legislatures, Congress, the President) then teaching-to-the-test is a /logical/ outcome. It's basic economic theory.

    There are real issues here and obvious conflicts. For example, "critical thinking" -- reasoning that begins with questions -- runs headlong into "children should be seen and not heard" and "because I said so" and other family practices that discourage questioning and encourage deference to authority.

    Kathy @kegill

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  86. Erika, congratulations on a fabulous presentation! You "get it." Not only that, but you know how to be intellectually provocative in moving others to "get it" too. I'm currently writing a book for young people that takes a similar approach and shares similar values.

    You not only have wisdom, perception and passion, you also have virtue, an exceptional ability to communicate and more courage than most people I know of any age. You are an inspiration for all of us. Bravo!!!

    For your information, I originally found your presentation on LewRockwell.com.

    http://www.lhaltd.com/speakers/cheatham/index.html

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  87. I'm an ex-educator. Ex because I never felt I could truly do what I felt was best for the students and I got bored. Your speech is extremely well-said and dead-on. I hope as life unfolds for you you find that you're not sacrificing your ideals. May God, and fate, be kind to you.

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  88. Thank you so much. Your courage to challenge the system in such an utterly poetic, no symbolic, no punk rock manner is immensely inspiring. Your words struck powerful resonance in me, it's a feeling I'd like to stay. I will continue to challenge the systems that bind and seek personal enlightenment, as well contribute my own perspective in order to impact society. The late comedian George Carlin would have been proud to know youth like you exist. Today I read an elegant battle cry, feeling a little less alone in this illusion called American culture. I still can't get over the fact that you actually said this in your speech. So damn cool.

    -vincent

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  89. Erika is right. However, change must start with my classroom. More student led classes, more innovation, more inquiry, more creativity.
    Thanks Erika

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  90. Good job Erica! Can't say my experience was the same as yours, because I graduated in 1954, and my education has served me well through half a dozen exciting careers. Please do not sell yourself short! You are already writing much better English than most college students, and you have more passion behind a worthy cause than most people of any age. With respect and affection, Paul

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  91. Thank you for your insightful speech. Excellent grades in college will certainly open up opportunities for you, but good grades with internships, volunteer work, study abroad or other experiences that with enable you to reflect and to explore your surroundings will change your life. You should be proud of how far you have come and of the development of your critical mind. Please do remember your own advice, and do not let college hinder your curiosity. Best of luck with all that follows, Erica! -J, college administrator

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  92. bravo Erica.
    your speech is my mission.
    :)

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  93. I am from Canada and your speech is spreading the internet, and I hope that continues. I can't imagine the courage it took to say this and I wish you all the best. The world needs more people like you!

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  94. What a wonderful speech, Erica. Thank you for saying it well. The "factory school" problem has been getting worse for more than 20 years (when my own two started ischool). It's too bad it took this long for a successful student to find the will and the voice to put it succinctly, but thank you for doing it! There are pockets of highly creative people making a real difference in education today, but they won't be widely heard until and unless the public wakes up and gets it. Your speech really helps with that. Congrats and best of luck!

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  95. Erica,

    If the speech I've found at random on the internet can truly be attributed to you, you are a remarkable, and incredibly self aware human being. Congratulations on being who you are.

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  96. this is one the speeches that should wake up humanity all around the world...
    i'll put in right next to mario savio's speech (utube : mario savio)

    its refreshing to see that there is a generation still out there that can smell something is seriously wrong with this system ..but cannot find the mechanics and science of the so called MACHINAERY...

    u are living in lucky times as the MACHINERY is close to being HACKED
    the gears that runs the whole show is actually ur birth certificate..and the original or its value being a deposit or collateral placed in teh social security account
    ( downlaod a banking dictionary and blacks law dictionary ...certificate , security means money
    ur NAME is actually a business name that the govt sets up for u at birth to do commerce
    NAME in law means credit ...that is why they have placed it as collateral

    utube : birth certificate + stock market
    utube : meet your strawman
    utube: intro to human rights 3/20
    utube: P4 occult world of commerce

    MAN is the SOURCE of credit ...HUE_MAN becomes the RE_SOURCE of that credit for compnanies and govts...

    this is one the speeches that should wake up humanity all around the world...
    i'll put in right next to mario savio's speech (utube : mario savio)

    its refreshing to see that there is a generation still out there that can smell something is seriously wrong with this system ..but cannot find the mechanics and science of the so called MACHINAERY...

    u are living in lucky times as the MACHINERY is close to being HACKED
    the gears that runs the whole show is actually ur birth certificate..and the original or its value being a deposit or collateral placed in teh social security account
    ( downlaod a banking dictionary and blacks law dictionary ...certificate , security means money
    ur NAME is actually a business name that the govt sets up for u at birth to do commerce
    NAME in law means credit ...that is why they have placed it as collateral

    utube : birth certificate + stock market
    utube : meet your strawman
    utube: intro to human rights 3/20
    utube: P4 occult world of commerce

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  97. utube : birth certificate + stock market
    utube : meet your strawman
    utube: intro to human rights 3/20
    utube: P4 occult world of commerce

    the reason ur COPY of the birth certficate is on bond paper is because it can be converted into a negotiable instrument and deposited into ur Social Security account ..
    until then the govt is trustee to that account and uses it as collateral for the national debt
    the intersest on it is paid through the income tax
    so till we deposit the birth certifacate into the Security account the govt is trustee and can right checks on it ...
    f we do deposit (as common law merchant bankers as is declared in 1640 by the british courts, we are no tjust common law man and woman we are bankers and can negotiate remedies given to us) , then we become co trustees to the account and can wwrite check s off of it..ie turn a bill into a bill of exchange or cheque when asked to pay ..
    google : a4v.pdf
    to understand the contract we are under when our parents registered us at birth

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  98. they dont teach you this a school because the govt will have to be responsible with the social security account ..as they will have a reduced tax revenue stream to support the needless negative businees of wars..ie.war on nations, covert wars, war on terror, war on drugs ...and other casino games..
    this is because people wont have to be citizens (googel : legal definition + constitutor) and can work for free ...and create more sustainable economies with minimal cost to the environment..
    this is the summary of what is a huge subject ...it can be understood only with a lot of intiuition and reading about how the banking system is connected to our daily lives form birth
    we have been given commercial remedy but the govt wants us to be asleep and working as sailors on the citizenSHIPs instead of finding out that we are in actual fact the merchant co owners of the citizenSHIPS and can steer it any way we want to with us writing cheques on the social security trust account
    it is all based on SHIPPING LAW and we are all considered lost at SEA
    utube: Money and Justice (p.s. You are officially "dead")
    but before 1666 all men and women were declared not just common law man BUT common law merchants ..this was in 1620's by King JAmes courts..
    google : THE DISPATCH OF MERCHANTS by Willaim Avery
    ur merchant name is now entering into commerce ...
    u can use ur remedy (birth certificate ) to drive the citizenSHIP between PORTS with its PORTPASS or PASS_PORTS or choose to be a sailor on it and work to pay the INSURANCE payments and interst payments on the national debt(income tax) from ur Salt payments held in a SALAR (salt vessel) ie SALARY..

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  99. Well done, Erica. You have unknowingly inspired young people across the country with this speech. You may have been aware of this, but John Taylor Gatto has launched an initiative to break one of the tools of conditioning that this system wields against us; It's called the Bartleby Project. He is urging students across the country to simply write across the top of standardized tests "I would prefer not to take your test." It will take a certain boldness to do this, but you have proven that there are those who have what it takes. Check it out at my website: http://oldthinkernews.com/Articles/oldthinker%20news/invitation_to_an_open_conspiracy.htm

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  100. Thank you Erica! As a learning specialist working with college students I continuously teach them about the difference between a student and a learner. One of my students found your speech and sent it to me, as it aligned with what she learned in our program. Your words are remarkably on target. I encourage you to continue to DEMAND more from education. As an educator I did not take offense, rahter I said YES! There are many of us who know what is wrong with the system but educators are not the ones making the decisions; you are ritht that politics and the almighty dollar are in charge. Moreover, this should not be an excuse for educators to continue to take a back seat and bemoan the system. Many thanks for pushing us as educators to stand up and fight for the learner.

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  101. Thank you for putting into words what a lot of people are thinking. I am the parent of 3 boys and I hate that all they learn in school is how to take multiple choice, standardized tests. I hope you continue to spread that word and make a difference. Bravo!!

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  102. Earlier I asked why the Hudson Valley Freeman quoted Erica Goldson's speech as follows:

    "Remember to hold onto your value system, your work ethic and, most importantly, your humanity,” Goldson said during commencement exercises on Friday. “It is these qualities that will guide you further on your journey.”

    The lines quoted are also available on Free Graduation Speeches website:
    http://www.find-the-words.com/free-graduation-speeches.html

    In fact it appears that Erica herself turned in a "fake" speech to that administration, perhaps worried that her actual speech would be censored. This is reported in a correction published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2010/07/27/news/doc4c4e6e1988751898874838.txt

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  103. Hey Erica,
    I gave a speech kinda like yours when I graduated from college in 1984. I had no clue where I was going or what I'd do in life. Now, just a few weeks ago, my wife and I have published a book that is on the NYTimes best-seller list. Life's an adventure, as you seem to understand. We'd love to send you a signed copy of our book, if you'd be interested in reading it. I think (hope) it's an example of what can happen if you refuse to accept the conventional wisdom and keep asking questions. Get in touch if you'd like a copy (sexatdawn.com), and best of luck with your continuing adventure.

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  104. Hello Erica.

    Thank you for your inspiration and courage to speak out before your entire school and by sharing those very words through the wonderful invention that is the internet. I am writing to you from across the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal, and this proves that a loud voice will always be heard, no matter the distance, time or strength it takes.
    Never silent your mind, no matter what fears you might have. All these comments prove that you are not alone and that you will never be alone while fighting for a truely evolved state of mind.

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  105. Very very excellent. You are a very smart young woman, and I hope you keep us out here in the internet world informed of what amazing changes you are making in the world.

    You have articulated perfectly why the educational system totally and utterly failed both my husband and I, and why we will be unschooling our future children. Thank you for speaking so boldly, and take any flak you get about this with a grain of salt. Out here on the other side of the educational regime, there are a lot of us who are bitter and contemptuous about being stuck in The System for so many years without being able to make a change.

    Best of luck and lots of love to you,
    Alex

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  106. Always continue your pursuit of the Trivium and quadrivium method. If everyone learned these tools, the current systems in place would crumble down.

    The Trivium
    : [1] General Grammar,[2] Formal Logic,[3] Classical Rhetoric

    The Trivium (which pertains to Mind)- the elementary three.
    [1] GRAMMAR (discovering and ordering facts of reality comprises basic, systematic Knowledge)- not only the rules developed and applied to the ordering of word/concepts for verbal expression and communication, but our first contact with conscious order as such. This is the initial, self-conscious technique used in properly (discursively or sequentially) organizing a body of knowledge from raw, factual data for the purpose of gaining understanding (through logic) and; thus, also organizing the individual human mind. It is the foundation upon which all other "methods of organization and order" are built. Special grammar properly relates words to other words within a specified language like English, Russian, or Latin. General grammar relates words to objective reality in any language and applies to all subjects as the first set of building blocks to integrated or fully mindful, objective knowledge. A body of knowledge which has been gathered and arranged under the rules of general grammar can now be subjected to logic for full understanding, which, emphatically, is a separate intellectual procedure.

    [2] LOGIC (developing the faculty of reason in establishing valid [i.e., non-contradictory] relationships among facts yields basic, systematic Understanding) it is a guide for thinking correctly; thinking without contradiction. More concisely, it is the art of non-contradictory identification. The work of logic is proof. Proof consists of establishing the truth and validity of a concept or proposition in correspondence with objective, factual reality by following a self-consistent chain of higher-level thought back down to foundational, primary concepts or axioms (i.e., Existence, Consciousness, and Causality). It is a means of keeping us in touch and grounded to objective reality in our search for valid knowledge and understanding. Logic brings the rhythm of the subjective thoughts of the mind, and the subsequent actions of the body, into harmony with the rhythm of the objective universe.
    This is the intended tone of the entire letter: to amicably synchronize individual mental processes, and their attendant actions, with the processes of our surrounding natural, factual existence over the period of a lifetime.

    [3] RHETORIC (applying knowledge and understanding expressively comprises Wisdom or, in other words, it is systematically useable knowledge and understanding)-
    to explore and find the proper choice of methods for cogently expressing the conclusions of grammar and logic on a subject in writing and/or oral argumentation (oratory). The annunciation of those conclusions is called a statement of rationale, the set of instructions deduced from the rationale for the purpose of application (of those conclusions) in the real world is called a statement of protocols.

    The Quadrivium
    : [4] Arithmetic,[5] Geometry,[6] Music, and [7] Astronomy.

    The Quadrivium (which pertains to Matter & Quantity)- the advanced four.

    [4] MATHEMATICS- number in itself, which is a pure abstraction; that is, outside of
    space and time.

    [5] GEOMETRY-
    number in space.

    [6] MUSIC OR HARMONIC THEORY-
    number in time.

    [7] ASTRONOMY-
    number in space and time.
    a. Number
    b. Geometry
    c. Harmonics
    d. Cosmology

    Taken from www.triviumeducation.com

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  107. Congrats.

    Erica, is this really you, or did someone publish your speech in the one entry blog?

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  108. It takes a lot of guts to say such a speech - so great props to you. I definitely share the sentiment, having gone through a similar experience myself.

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  109. Erica -

    Outstanding work. I submitted the story and link to Matt Drudge and hope he posts it on his site. I found you through Joseph Herrin's site parablesblog.blogspot.com and linked to my "Homework" page.

    Very best wishes,

    Steve

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  110. Amazing speech - If you ever want to get a blog online I own wiredwebwork.com and will gladly hook you up! If you don't know what to do in life - be a writer; you are very talented! contact me @ mikehobgood.com if interested

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  111. You're a true American hero, young lady. Wish I had had an ounce of your courage in high school. Don't ever let them shut you up--you're exactly what this country needs.

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  112. Erica, You're my hero. Thank you for so eloquently saying what needs to be said. Rock on.

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  113. Wow - what an amazing thesis. I feel that way of so many students that come to work with us. They are great test takers, but fall short in terms of ability to solve more complex problems.

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  114. Oh fuck yes.

    This makes up for every day the education system saps my passion for teaching. I hope you become a teacher and try to educate instead of train.

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  115. Erica, you have amazing wisdom beyond your years and above your teaching! Thank you for speaking up on behalf of all future generations of students. As a homeschooling mom I am thankful to have the opportunity to allow my students to work at their own pace, pursue their dreams. use their common sense, take risks and sometimes fail, and do anything they choose with their lives. I am excited to see what you will do in the future!

    In Christ, JulieBeth

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  116. Hello Erica,
    I am very impressed by your audacity and your clear articulation of your views. I have been an educator in the very same system, and now work in higher education. For the most part I agree with what you said in your speech. I believe some of the problems lie in the expectations we set for today's youth through the worthless culture we've created. No one takes ownership of their education and since education is "every American's right" it gets watered down to the least common denominator. I am glad you did not fall into that trap and sought to excel nonetheless. The knowledge you learned - the facts and figures and memorization - will serve you well and as you continue to apply what you've learned to your life you will grow even more in your wisdom. I have shared your speech with a number of influential contacts of mine who work within the education system - both in the US and overseas. Congratulations on the stir you've caused. It was a brave thing and I hope you continue to articulately challenge what so many people accept without question.
    -Greg

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  117. Erica,

    While most commentators here have offered more advice on other ways of staying enslaved to this world system, I must offer different advice. It's rare to hear someone (especially so young) have the perspective that you have. What it boils down to, is that even if you were one of the ones you talked about (that ones that wrote music or doodled etc), we are ALL SLAVES in this world. Even if you died with 1 billion dollars to your name - so what!

    See it for what it is...this is a prison planet...and there is only 1 way out and that is a graveyard (oh yes, ain't I the morbid one). I'm just being realistic. We came in with nothing - we leave with nothing.

    The bottom line is - the Bible. Come to know the only one that can free us from this slave planet and that grave. Jesus Christ is real and he is alive and he has overcome this evil world and if we follow him - we too can overcome. PS - one of the other 'systems' that has totally brainwashed masses is religion - so don't go there either. Seek a personal and eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ (the REAL Jesus - not the fake one you always hear about). Don't be proud - like 'they' teach us to be...be humble.

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  118. To those complaining about how the word "worker" is used, there's a big difference between taking any job because you choose to do so and taking it because you cannot imagine anything else. When Thoreau wrote about people leading "lives of quiet desperation", it was because even then most people stopped wondering and seeking, stopped becoming, and settled for what was placed before them. They stopped asking "why" and settled for "because."

    Children are motivated by wonder, by questions, but such a path is unpredictable in the short term even if it may lead to greater things in the long term. Our social system, now more than ever, is based on numbers, so our education system turns people into numbers for the sake of comparison, for the ease of comparison that takes away matters of judgment and responsibility.

    Actually, there aren't that many basic questions, although many variants, many paths that lead to the single destination of wisdom. Although we worry that allowing students to follow their own questions would lead to chaos, since a part of the mind also desires order, there is no tumbling into real chaos, only more complicated means of measuring what is being learned and what may need to be added.

    What wasn't addressed in this excellent speech is the fear each generation has of the younger generation, a fear you can find in writings going back to the Roman Empire, always asking what's wrong with this younger generation. Older generations fear both the change the younger generations may cause and the power or status that could be lost. As part of that older generation, I know it's our responsibility to help the younger generations bring about change, to surpass us eventually in both ability and wisdom, not merely in how many toys we can afford.

    In the times I've been able to teach college, I've seen what people can do when given the time and internal motivation in place of external discipline. The trip was often messy, sometimes painful, but the results were beyond what a teacher dreams of, and far beyond what can be measured on a standardized test graded by a computer.

    Forrest D. Poston
    http://www.philosophyandnonsense.net

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  119. Erica,

    Please put a Creative Commons license on this speech to encourage others to use it or to create similar speeches.
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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  120. Awesome speech.

    I see that you have a gazillion links and recommendations lined up already. I have one more:

    Free State Project

    We're doing a lot of interesting things in New Hampshire. If public schooling ever gets a major overhaul in the U.S., it will happen here, as a result of our efforts.

    We would love to have you here, helping out! (I moved from Texas. It was worth it.)


    Just one more option, anyway. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. (As if you need it. Ha.)

    - Will

    PS: John Taylor Gatto spoke at our Liberty Forum last year.

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  121. I am 29 so have been out of high school a while now. I wasn't the valedictorian or even close to it. I was an intelligent kid who chose to follow my passions and disregard my schoolwork, despite being told my future was in jeopardy by doing so. THANK YOU for making the kind of speech someone like me would have made but never got the chance to. They give the valedictorians the microphone for a reason, but luckily you weren't too late in your realizations to have an extremely impactful message.

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  122. Wow, brave (but true) stuff to say directly to school teachers and administrators.

    I put together lots of possible solutions for the jobs issue here, but you probably would not have learned about most of them in a mainstream school (especially a future involving a basic income, a gift economy, resource-based planning, and/or increased local self-sufficiency in stronger local communities):
    http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery

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  123. Bravo! I am a homeschooling mom and former public school educator who grew up not too far from you.

    I'd like permission to post this on my own website. There's a heated debate happening in response to a John Holt article I posted entitled "The Right To Control One's Learning" happening right now over there. I'd love it if you'd respond with your thoughts.

    Read all you can about John Holt, Rudolph Steiner and the others you mention and above all, keep on speaking out!

    ~~Terri
    www.homeschoolinflorida.com

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  124. I just want to say reading this has given me hope for the future of humanity. You "get it" and we need more like you. Congrats!

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  125. Thank you so much for getting to a point where you would be heard and then still having the courage to say what needs to be said.

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  126. Before reading this at another website http://purplepathe.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/here-i-stand-by-erica-goldson/ - I thought most of the kids today were just lost. It is so refreshing to see a REAL Valedictorian Speech, and I do hope this circulates EVERYWHERE!! It is like: Kids - wake up, even if your parents and society aren't - there is work to do! I still have hope for America and for humankind after reading this - THANK YOU!!

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  127. Erica, I am considering to print your text in my newspaper. See 16rounds.com. 16Rounds To Samadhi is an independent, free, not for profit publication. Please let me know if I have your permission to publicize your text. Thanks. -Mahat

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  130. We are learning to achieve financial freedom in an out of the box way. No paper document can help you. Only the willingness to help others better their lives. You should check out our website. Be blessed!

    www.feelthejuice2.com

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  131. I've sat here trying to think of a way to express how impressed I am with your ability to express such important thoughts during such an ideal event but have come up with none. My desire is to help your words spread like wildfire through the internet and show my support, so I needed to add my two cents here and I have shared your speech on Facebook. Keep truckin', babe. You have an amazing mind and try not to let it be stifled or bogged down by the seemingly insurmountable task of forging through the mess of "sheep" our society has become. Thank you for the hope you offer through your awareness.

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  132. Incrediblie ! The most outstanding speech I've ever listened ! Let's give her Big Hands by standing ovation ! Awesome !
    Pls visit my son's YouTube site ;
    http://youtube.com/herohascome

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  133. I loved this speech so much I created an audio file of it at
    http://metamind.us/audio/graduation.wav

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  134. Erica, do you know who J. Krishnamurti is?

    checkout his foundation and schools here: http://www.kfa.org/

    You were meant for this. Feel free to contact me about it anytime if you like to discuss more: mindrevol.now@gmail.com

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  135. Bravo Erica! Excellent speech! I totally aligned with your statements. If you haven't heard of this or seen the film, Zeitgeist: Addendum; take some time out and check this out- I think you'll find it very interesting: http://vimeo.com/13770061

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  136. Hi Erica,

    I am writing from a Montessori School near Chicago. We have sent the video of your speech to our parents, posted it on our Facebook account, and are interested in having you come to talk to our parents. What we have in mind is about an hour to an hour and a half with a small group of parents in a small classroom setting. We have about 150 students, and about 90 families.


    You can check out our webpage, http://www.countrysidemontessori.org, and our facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Northbrook-IL/Countryside-Montessori/142979822380126?v=app_2309869772&ref=ts#!/pages/Northbrook-IL/Countryside-Montessori/142979822380126.

    You can contact me at your convenience.

    Best Regards,

    Lisa Sanden
    Director of Development
    Countryside Montessori School
    countrysidemontessori.org847-498-1105

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  137. Erica : I would like to interview you for www.ednews.org You can click on my name at that site to see my other interviews and to see that I am legit. I would send you 8-9 questions via e-mail and you could reply at your leisure. Let me know. My e-mail is Michael.Shaughnesssy@enmu.edu

    Hope to talk to you soon

    MS

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  138. Wow, and thank you, there's hope for humanity yet! Please keep writing, speaking, sharing this message. It's time we end conformism in the US and the world and as you said, teach children to tap into the motivational force of their passion vs. survival or greed. I keep telling my 13-yr. old that the MOST important thing in life is to find, and do, what she is MOST passionate about, then figure out a way to make a living at it. What a world it would be if we were all taught to do that. I remain a cock-eyed optimist, because with the help of young people like you this message has a prayer of taking hold and spreading to critical mass.

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  139. Erica,

    I hear you will be attending SUNY Buffalo. If you are not already aware, the founder of the Free State Project, Jason Sorens, is a professor there. You can find him on facebook or email via jsorens(at)buffalo.edu.

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  140. Very well defined. But this is not limited to American Education system only. Education is the world spread crime today. Where 'Human resource' is being produced to work as ATM.
    Many time I ask students to make a list of problems they see at personal, social, national or global level. Then I ask them to classify these problems into three catagories a. because of uneducated people only, b. because of educated people only and c. because of boath. Most of the problems are found to be because of educated ones, eventually by people having higher degrees. So, where are we heading with this education system.
    Today we are having human beings full of skills who can handle any problem in mobile, computer, ca etc very intelligently....but we hardly have people on this planet who can handle problem with spouse, son, daughter, father mother, neighbor, colleague or any other human to human relationship. That's our education system today,
    No wonder there is so much of global warming and family warming.. all together killing us, society, nations and planet....
    Manish Sisodia (India)

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  141. That was one of the best speeches I have ever read, anywhere. I have felt this way about school and practiced "love of learning before attaining the best grades." I eventually paid a price --as a premedical student in a competitive environment-- when I saw shortcut-taking peers surpass me. Medical schools only see numbers, yet I want to maintain my values. What is the solution? To work twice as hard to keep up with peers, yet learn the material? This would be ideal, though difficult. I am lost within the competition for medical school- I learn when I can, but my intensity is geared toward accomplishing my end goal.
    --Jenna from Florida

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  142. Thank you. You gave me back my faith in people. All the best, and I hope you find an actual 'interest'

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  143. I don't know how I missed this.

    If you ever want to chat about making an impact, please feel free to reach out.

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  144. Perhaps you should have chosen a different major.

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  145. @ 18 no less. If only more of us grasped this sentiment at an earlier age. It took me nearly 7 years longer than yourself to realize I'd been duped and planted into life's little filing cabinet, tucked nicely into the folder entitled 'retail buyer' alongside those folders where my closest friends and colleagues were tucked: accounting, law, banking, etc., all with the same programmed motivation.

    4 years later and I'm happily outside that filing cabinet...or almost. Let this speech be inspiration that it doesn't take much time or effort to wake up and remove yourself from the hypnosis. The reward is recapturing your childlike creativity and impassioned energy, without so much as a trifle of concern for your relative fiscal wealth.

    Ignorance is not bliss and it's not an excuse when it stifles your natural ability to contribute.

    Best of luck and I hope to meet you and others like you down the road...

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    but precarious U.S. role Louis Vuitton Handbags as a middleman.

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  147. Young lady, you are wise beyond your years. How refreshing to see your insight and your courage to stand in front of your peers and teachers and speak the truth. Please continue your efforts for change as you move forward--the country needs voice such as yours. Wishing you light, peace, happiness and continued courage to action.

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  148. So.. I don't know you. I just started college. For our first actual English class, our teacher showed us the video of your speech and printed this out. Excellent.

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  149. ask yourself
    what is red
    what is blue ( look up the dictionary and have a good laugh, then few by few you might see what it really mean )
    what is water assuming h2o do not make any water
    why is there the letter W in the alphabet (no AA BB CC as far as i know , think of it you ll find out)
    learn numbers by yourself number 6 ( aka dead according to Hollywood) if you wanna a chance.

    NOW last but not least, what do you have where you mix 1/3 of green +1/3 of blue + 1/3 of yellow. the real think is in the 1/3 concept.... some king of infinity, some kind of 18 23 112 216.

    have a sweet dream number 6.

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  150. Erica, first and foremost BRAVO. As a teacher and librarian (in higher ed.) but most of all as a mom, I proudly read this. I consider myself to be my daughter's first teacher. And while geography and the game of life require me to send her to "school," I do not depend on it to educate her, to teach her to think for herself and to question....everything.

    Clearly someone in your life did help you find those elements of your path in life....and that path shall be an interesting one. The more you look Erica, the more you see. And you see alot.

    Safe journey,

    Another avant-garde teacher named Donna :)

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  151. You are amazing. I am so happy I came across your video, which led me to your blog page. Words of such wisdom. I am going to share your video to all my friends on facebook. I live in Australia, and our educational system is much like that of America. Lately, I have begun questioning everything I have learnt to be "true" and "factual", even in my current University studies. My teachers seem to be getting annoyed with my constant questioning *hehe* but I enjoy standing out in the classroom, because its making others start thinking outside the box. You are so right about how we are each unique and each have something special to offer this world. Along with our uniqueness I believe we are "one" in that everything we say and do will effect the world and the people in it as a result of our vibrational energy... something not accepted by mainstream science. I wish you all the best in everything you do. x :)

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  152. This is so intimately close to my own personal beliefs regarding education. I am also one of the "enlightened."

    I wrote the following in my blog yesterday and was redirected to this speech in order to catch a glimpse of someone else who has seen the same light. Bravo, and thank you for utilizing your role (as empty as it may be) for such an important purpose.

    My post:
    http://curseofthepiazza.blogspot.com/2010/09/rethinking-purpose.html

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  153. Good luck with your life, as you find it unfolding before you. Take heart in the poem, "Desiderata," realize that sometimes 'living' gets in the way of "life" that you seek. Beware, but be awed, too. Good days, bad days, they're a-coming. I wish you the best, you sound so much like my daughter's rants at her unhappiness with High School (and later, college) "education", and how it almost prepared her for what was expected: work as a drone. Incidently, if you're looking for a really challenging mentally & physically career...try being a firefighter. 8^) be sweet, good luck.

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  154. Marvelous speech; and good luck with college. The world can always use more thinkers, and from the looks of things, you're off to a great start.

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  155. The future of our species is brighter with people like yourself. You have the heart/mind/spirit to do great things. Whatever your heart decides is your path, follow it to the end. I will see you there. Namaste

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  156. you are inspirational...i have just seen and read your speech....you have made my heart full of joy....and my faith is made stonger by your heartfelt words. I have shared the link with everyone i know....bless you....onwards and upwards.
    huge hugs...jen xxxx

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  157. WWW.DISCLOSE.TV found it awesome!

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  158. Great read--I look forward to seeing what you do with these astute acknowledgments. You should definitely check out my FIRST ever post on my new blog, Hunt When Hungry. You can find it here: http://huntwhenhungry.tumblr.com/ ! It's all about how millennials and people generally need to reclaim their authentic selves and save their savage while freeing themselves from the chains of cultural hegemony. I think you'll find we have similar thoughts--anyhow, I'm interested to hear what you think about this post.

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  159. You remind me of what Saint Thomas Aquinas said:

    "The philosopher and the poet both begin in the same place: wonder."

    Enjoy re-creating the world.

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  160. Erica, I wonder if you read Seth Godin's Linchpin. Your thoughts reflect Seth's proposition and analysis - instead being machines of following what the current education and work system is designed to produce we should become Linchpins of society - artists, dreamers, thinkers, social changers - as a result indispensable leaders in our society. If you have not read his book, you might find it amazingly aligned with your thoughts.

    I'm though so very impressed with your speech. Thank you for this.

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  161. Comments must get lost in the fray by now, but I just wanted to say that I love this speech.
    :)

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  162. Well said. The history of public education in America *is* the history of subjecting the population to government control. That is our systems expressed design and purpose. It is the Prussian school model, look it up.

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  163. Nice speech, and I hope you find college much preferable to HS!!

    Jake Towne
    towneforcongress.com

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  164. Found this when it was first posted. Bookmarked and just came back for another read. So good.

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  165. This speech video is on youtube. Called Valedictorian speaks out against schooling.

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  166. Excellent! As a frustrated teacher and J. T. Gatto fan, I 100% agree with you and hope you keep blogging!

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  167. I graduated in 2008, and now am a Junior in college. This is a great, and makes me happy to see. Keep up the good work.

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  168. Thank you for doing what a hero does, risk your own benefits, risk in general, for the sake of others.

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  169. I have tears running down my face as I thankyou from the bottom of my heart for making that speech. If only a few people took it to heart you have made a huge difference...and I know so many more are seeing it online. Your speech was just what I needed to jump start our homeschool year, to inspire me that much more to do so much more for my kids. I thankyou for having the courage to make a speech of that magnitude and will pass it on to everyone I know...

    www.ourbrokenroad.blogspot.com

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  170. If you like John Taylor Gatto and H L Mencken, read Richard Mitchell, The Underground Grammarian. All his books are free online. I go back and read them all often. Hilarious and so true.

    In my nightmares I am still in high school.

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  171. By writing this speech you have validated your educational system :)

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  172. Hey so there are rumours around you're a Marxist...true or not? I am a 23 year old dude who dropped out freshman year because I understood the same ideas you put so spot-on in your speech. Some say, "well look how smart and humble she IS...isn't that proof that the system works...and I say, well she either came up with it on her own, or it was spoon-fed parroting...My advice to you...run FAR away from this nightmare that is society while you can, learn street smarts and self-suffiency and practical skills (painting, music, building, ect.) but i think you already might know this... =}

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  173. a song, for all of you...Bloody Revolutions

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  174. Thank you Erica. Reading your speech moved me to tears.

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  175. Great speech. Learn as much as you can, war in America is sooner then many know.

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  176. THANK YOU! Thanks for being a free thinker and sharing that outstanding liberty of the mind w/ so many who might respond appropriately and continue the needed change we require both individually and as a nation of people. I will share this with everyone I can.

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  177. And yet it is almost unbelievable that you have come out with such an amazing capability to analyze in such profound terms not only the educational system but the society surrounding you. We definitely can change things.

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  178. > By writing this speech you have validated your educational system :)

    Sure, there's some value to be had in the traditional high school education, I actually enjoyed mine, because I chose not to view it as a competition, but did try to naively learn. But let's not go rubber stamp it because someone takes a pen to paper, mr happy-I-peed-on-her-post. The system sucks.

    There's a lot of commanding from the peanut gallery, all saying "you should" ... you are young, and obviously motivated, so you'll follow a lot of leads.

    What KAY_D dropped, while not the most grammatically sound, is the heaviest.

    This is your life,
    as good as it gets,
    it doesn't get any better than this,
    and you're dying, one minute at a time.

    The country has been undergoing bankruptcy proceedings for decades. The maritime law for commerce is enforced in martial courts. Tax without representation (apportionment) is for folks who correspond with .gov agencies via their capital letter entity. We're all the constitutional equivalent of bygone slaves. By participating in a financial institution's contract, you're bound to be responsible for the national debt. Congress is the biggest stall tactic in history - people refuse to break out of the mindset of the two party system.

    The Internet is the tool. This is the education you were looking for, it's not a competition.

    At 42, my epiphany was 2 years ago, watching the 401k's balance plunge. Being well entrenched in a mortgage, I am not in a position to be nimble. Once out of debt however, it's game on.

    Thanks of course & congrats I think. Mebbe see ya around!

    spud

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  179. Hi Erica,
    I was so moved by your speech. You speak with such courage but also with great compassion. I strive to speak with both courage and love. Sometimes I get so angry that I forget that what I really want to express is love.

    I am doing the work that you call people to do. I would love for you to join me in doing what I'm doing. Here is my first experiment: hilearners.tumblr.com.

    Things are happening so quickly that I am creating a business to create this new environment for learning. My partners and I are putting together the business model. I hope you will contact me. Let's talk about it. blake at alumni dot utexas dot net
    Blake

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  180. Hi Erica,
    I found this out recently too. before your speech, but its is from the book Education by Ellen G White. She wrote about this over an hundred years ago. Such as thing of home school and self dependent.

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  181. Erica,

    I would like to send you a copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (don't know where to send it to). Reading it would give you an idea of how to focus your independence and uniqueness. If you have read that I would suggest reading Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and the Virtue of Selfishness as, in my opinion, it would be a great way to begin to understand why the underlying comments and speeches you have made are correct.

    Peter LePort, MD

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  182. Well done. You have nads young lady!
    All the best to you.

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  183. Wonderful speech! Wonderful insights. There is a group of grandparents who are working toward unlocking education - allowing students learn by participating in real-life experiences in their communities.

    http://grandcommunitesacademy.blogspot.com/

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  184. Awesome speech. Now do something about it.

    I've seen a few people recommend some reading to you. mises.org is awesome. "Atlas Shrugged" is awesome. Also "The Fountainhead", "The Alchemist", "The Pilgrimage", and "The War of Art" are essential.

    It's funny to stumble upon your link. I was discussing education with a friend a few weeks ago, and we laughed over him saying, about the educational system in our country, "..all they do is fucking destroy knowledge. They destroy real knowledge." After being out in the world, among my peers, it's quite evident. Meeting so many people who "don't read" or who's passion is "Coors Light".

    You've got some good ideas, now it's time to kick some ass. There are more of us out here, as evidenced by these comments. Let's go!

    M
    michaelneverstops . com

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  185. Absolute amazing speech.
    -Homeschooling mom

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  186. WOW! You get IT! And it's absolutely beautiful that you get it at this age. Getting IT at this age means you have a longer time to do something about it and change what you see that you don't like. Many people don't realize the things in your speech until they are far too old to do something about it! I wish I'd have gotten it at your age. H.s. and college would have been different for me.
    All of what you're talking about is why I desire to homeschool my son when he's old enough. All of what you're talking about is what I've been ranting about for awhile now.
    Your speech should be anthologized and taught so that students don't continue on that one eyed path with the one goal in mind. We all must take a look around occasionally and do some navel-gazing to see what we're really after and what we're really learning on this journey.
    Simply amazing!

    I wish you all the best in your future. Get out there, explore the world, make a change--the change you want to make, not one someone tells you to make.

    Do your thing!

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  187. Oh, and would it be okay for me to use your speech in my composition courses?

    Please respond (either way) via the comment feature on my blog.

    http://nicoletn11.blogspot.com/

    Thanks either way.

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  188. as a teacher, i cannot tell you how true your words ring. its a humongous task to stand up to break down goliath walls as a teacher you feel like david, but when you do so in the name of children, the pebble in the sling really does knock down goliath. goliath meaning statewide, national laws, media, politicians, school staff, even some parents, most times thinkg opposite of helping students learn, they just don't realize it. your words inspire me to inspire my students and go against the pressure to be a teacher in a box who makes test takers not learners. i feel like 1 soldier in a battle against 10,0000 strong for those against your viewpoint. if you pray, please pray for teachers as we are the soldiers in the trenches who see the faces of children everyday.
    for the learners, a teacher

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  189. Erica, thank you for sharing that video. I say the future of our children is very bright with you being in it. Keep it up!

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  190. So heartening! I homeschool my children so that they won't awaken in the late teens and early 20s like I did...like you are now. I want them to be awake now - while still children. Creativity is often lost to test-taking and the world is a lesser place for it. Boredom is often a good thing, and when coupled with a few learned skills, can create beautiful minds capable of anything. Congratulations on your awakening. I am glad that you are here in the world.

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  191. Kathy from San DiegoSeptember 26, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Erica, I'm so happy to see you join YAL. On Friday 9/24 Jack Spirko featured your speech on

    http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/

    He named you person of the month. He's a successful entrepeneur and never went to college. I guess he never did well in school because he's kinda ADHD! He would like to interview you for the show. If you're interested please call 866-658-4465.

    Wishing you all the best.

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  192. Thanks for posting this thoughtful speech that resonates so well with Postman, Gatto, Jensen, and many others who would like to change the system.

    One thought: It might be more helpful to introduce John T. Gatto as "former NYC Teacher of the Year and New York State Teacher of the Year", rather than "activist critical ..."; I've found that people hear "activist" and "critical" as "crackpot" or "fringer", and dismiss him without hearing.

    May our numbers increase, and may good changes come.

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  193. Fear is the first step on your amazing journey. It's the feeling of liberation.

    I heard your speech via the "Survival Podcast." The guy who runs it heard about it, and wanted everyone to hear how great it was. There are people who support you.

    What schools do to their students is terrible. But you don't have to be that, and you're too smart for it. You have just begun, and you can do anything you want. I wish you the best of luck.

    www.MartinRoseHorror.com

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  194. I followed a link to your speech via Twitter. Thank you so much for making it! I am a University lecturer in Australia, and I'll definitely be showing this to my teacher ed students next year...these messages are so much more powerful coming from students like you.

    Although the speech is full of amazing quotes, I thought this was a particularly excellent question:
    "when I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful, or forever lost?"

    As someone who went from high school, to uni, then straight back to school as a teacher, then back to uni as a teacher of teaching (!) I honestly can't answer that question. Except to say that institutionalism is everywhere, not only in education...and that success is a tricky thing.

    Thanks again!

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  195. Erica,
    Like so many have already said before me, amazing speech.

    As a parent , my hope for you, is that you have done a proper search and applied to the college/university that is the right fit. One that ,in it's declaration of goals statement shares your educational ideals.

    My son also graduated this summer . We have always stressed to him money is secondary, you need to be passionate about whatever you choose to do in life as a profession.
    He graduated top 10% in his class , he has choosen a demanding field (Electical/Mechanical Engineering) . The first day of classes, his Engineering professor addressed his class with a short welcome speech. The gist of the speech told the kids to seek out what they love , to find the job they'd do for free , that is how they will know that choosen field is the right fit for them . His college stresses this "passion" ideal.
    This is how we knew this was "THE" college for our son.
    I hope you have been as fortunate in your selection.

    Best Wishes
    Tina

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