John Walker’s 8/31 Assembly Address with Student Body President Dante DeCarli

Very deep is the well of the past…let us go there now.

JW: We have a question before us here today: in which year was this school opened on this site? Let’s bring forth our student body president to resolve this: Dante DeCarli!

JW: Mr. President: when was the school opened on this site?
DD: “1961.”

JW: That’s a long time ago.  And who was president of the US in 1961?
DD: “John F. Kennedy I believe.”

JW:  JFK! How serendipitous that this Catholic school was opened during the term of our 1st Catholic president! Did JFK have something to do with the construction of this facility or was that just a coincidence?
DD: “I believe that was just a coincidence.”

JW: You may be right.  And how are your math skills?
DD: “Pretty good.  I’ve been well educated.”

JW: Then you can tell us: what’s 2011 – 1,961?
DD: “50.”

JW: Amazing!  And what does that mean about this year? “It’s our Golden 50th anniversary on this campus!”
It’s our 50th anniversary on this campus!  So we have a lot of history to celebrate this year. Of course, we were a school long before we moved to this campus.  When was this high school founded?
DD: “1918.”

JW: That’s right.  So this year’s sophomores will graduate from college on the 100th anniversary of SV high school.
And the parish, that gave birth to this school, when was that institution founded?
DD: “Can I use a lifeline?”
JW: Yes.
DD: “Can I phone a friend?”
JW: No.  Because you may not use your cellphone inside school facilities.

DD: “Then I’ll ask the audience.  Sebastian Gallegos!  [Yes Mr. President.]  When was this school founded?  [1857.]  1857.”
JW: That’s right, it’s 154 years old, 1 year older than the city of Petaluma.  Thank you Dante, 100% correct, here is your prize ( a baseball), and 3 cheers for our president!

So I want us to think for a moment about what we’ve just learned: this school is 93 years old: that’s a lot of tradition, and you are all now part of that tradition.

Many of our graduates from 50 years ago are still a part of this school; they send their grandkids here, they serve on the board of regents, they come to our games and performancesNine of our current staff members are graduates of this school; some of our teachers teach their own children and grandchildren.  We are all one body and you are woven into the fabric of this tradition. It will carry you into the future like a tide.

It’s going to be up to you to build that future, and the options that you have will depend largely on what you make of yourselves in the time you spend here.

The teachers, coaches, staff, administration, we are here to support you.  But you must take the initiative. Is Coach Galloway in the house?  I have a question for coach Gllwy: is it permitted in football to carry a teammate across the goal line?

“No, that will be called back.”

That’s the point: you must achieve success on your own power: you must take the initiative to make contact with your teachers, engage yourself in your studies, be passionate and earnest about your school activities.

So I am asking you today to make that commitment for the sake of your own success and for the good of this community.

We have rules, we have dress codes, we have discipline.  Our rules will never be about vengeance or taking pleasure in punishment; they are always about creating a more excellent atmosphere for community.

Why have a dress code?  Here’s why: every educator and behavioral scientist will agree: people perform at a higher level when they look sharp.  Why do you dress up for a job interview?  It’s not to impress the interviewer, it’s because you have more confidence and self-esteem when you look good.  You stand up straighter, your gaze is more alert, your head is clear, you look your fellow human beings in the eyes.

Why insist on punctuality? Because we want you performing at your best, and we encourage you to be ambitious in your accomplishments.

Why demand mutual respect and compassion? Because we want an atmosphere designed to create excellent human beings, we want to provide opportunities for inspired creative growth.

We have new facilities this year that are gifts from community members; let’s show our gratitude by taking care of our school.  The arcade, our new lockers, the schoolfront, the school did not buy these, we couldn’t.  These are gifts from community members who love this school – imagine the sacrifice required to give these gifts – the field was also a gift to you personally so that you could become more excellent scholars, athletes, and artists.  You must be worthy of these gifts by taking care of this campus and becoming more excellent human beings in the service of your brothers and sisters.

Seniors, class of 2012, set the tone for the underclassmen.  And let us all promise to welcome and support the freshmen, class of 2015.  Finally, happy half-century to St V on this site!