Woodside High School Unity Mosaic Speech and Video

A speech made by Frank Steglinski at the Unity Rally on Friday, Jan 20th

Hi Woodside. My name’s Frank, and I’m a senior. Before I get to my main point, I want to tell you a few things about myself.

For most of my life I’ve been an introvert. Something about going up to other people, looking them in the eye, and carrying a full conversation with them scared the living daylights out of me. Just so you guys know, I was thinking of another word, but I felt like “daylights” would be more positive. Anyways, when little, eighth grade me found out I was headed to high school, I was convinced that it would be the worst experience of my life, and that I was headed to hell on Earth.

Turns out, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I mean, of course it’s not like I magically gained people skills as I stepped into 2nd period Spanish, that morning on September 2013. And I sure as hell wasn’t the most popular kid on campus. Even now, I sometimes screw up. Everyone does. And that’s where I want to broaden my story into one that I know everyone here can relate to, because Woodside really is a place for everyone.

As many of you know, the presidential inauguration was today. In a moment of time when there’s so much hatred and bitterness between different political bandwagons, a lot of places in this world can seem like suffocating bubbles where there is no room to act or think independently without the judgement of others. Add this hatred between different people, communities, and nations to the very real issue of climate change, about which nothing meaningful is being done, and there’s going to be times in the next four to eight years when the world seems like a very miserable place indeed. It’s going to be during those times of darkness when your actions and your relationships with other people will mean the difference between continuing to pass on the hate, or creating islands of light within the dark ocean that people can come to for safety, acceptance, and hope.

You guys, I have a feeling that Woodside High School is going to be one of those islands in the near future. I can say this with confidence, because it already has been. Not just for plain old average me, but for my LGBTQ, immigrant, and minority brothers and sisters as well. Every single one of you here has, in some way or shape, made this place a happier, more loving, and brighter one than I, or anyone else who has found friends here, could ever have imagined on our first days of school as freshmen.

But don’t think of the impression you’ve left on this school for future underclassmen as the end. Because you and me, we have all of our lives ahead of us to do, to the rest of the world, what we’ve done to Woodside. In this room, I see future teachers, and future doctors, and future community organizers, and future public servants. Future change-makers, and innovators, and CEOs. I see future Presidents, and Vice-Presidents, and Secretaries of State. You don’t believe me? Take a look around you. We’re surrounded by the best facilities, some of the most knowledgeable and experienced teachers, and the bright minds of our fellow students. On top of that, we’re in a state known for its wealth, knowledge, and culture.  No one is better equipped to turn this world into humanity’s best than you guys.
So reach out. Form connections with the people around you. Learn from each other, and grow together as agents of progress. Put in that favor for someone who needs one, and above all, don’t ever forget to use your power to protect those that don’t have any of their own. Because you, me, and the people around us, young people of every size, shape, color, and belief system: we are the keys to this world’s future. And let’s continue being the keys to the future. Thank you.

(Thanks to Frank Steglinski for allowing us to publish his speech)