Founder's Day Speech | By Teresa Velasco

Raise your hand if you ever had Ms. Bonnie for a teacher. Okay now Mr. Stefan. And Mr. Leon. Fantastic. I’m in my third year of high school, which may seem so far away, but I promise, by the time you’re where I am, it only seems like yesterday that you were 10. Time is a funny thing like that. Anyways, These were the teachers I had who are still here working at this wonderful school. My upper el teacher, Ms. Kristen, who’s moved to Oregon, I’m face book friends with her.

I never had a bad teacher when I was at keystone. My teachers were my friends, and I felt like I could talk to them about anything that was on my mind, especially the older I got, because I’ve learned there’s a correlation between your age and your talkativeness.

But that relationship with teachers that you all are fortunate to have here at keystone is one that I loved, and appreciated all the more once they were no longer available to me. High school is a very different world from keystone.

They say that you don’t know a good thing until it’s gone, and I find that is especially true with this school. While I was here, I enjoyed myself and I learned and I grew up and this school was an integral part of who I am today. But it wasn’t until I had to leave this school that I realized how valuable it is, and what a valuable education it provided me with. Very few are lucky enough to have the education that you have and I had.

This school has teachers that care about you. Teachers that have time to answer your questions about math and English and history and life. Teachers that are invested in who you are and who you are becoming. You are with the same teacher all day, every day, for three years. And while to some of you that may seem like a limitation, I promise you, it’s a blessing. These teachers know who you really are, and help you become the best version of you that you can be. They learn your interests, and your hobbies; your strengths and your weaknesses, and they want to see you succeed. If your teachers have those qualities, then you have some truly amazing teachers.

This school’s first priority isn’t your grades, because you don’t get grades; it isn’t whether you turned in all your homework, because you don’t usually have homework; it isn’t your test scores because you don’t usually have tests. This school’s first priority is whether or not you are learning. And since that’s the focus of this school, you actually end up learning, which is a novel concept, and when you really learn—you aren’t just rote memorizing, and then regurgitating facts and dates and Spanish conjugations for a test, which you forget immediately afterwards—you are going to retain information better, do well on your AIMS tests, and be able to carry the information with you for more than a week.

This school allows you to learn the things that are important to you, that interest you that you actually want to learn. If you want to learn more about Nigeria, or cobras, or constellations, or Greek mythology, you can go do research, make a presentation, or simply just learn about things that you are interested in. The reason why this is so great is because scientific study after educational study after psychological study proves that if students are allowed to learn about things that they find interesting, and are given the time and freedom to delve into those topics, you will enjoy the learning process more, you will, again, retain information better, and you will be motivated to propel your own learning in the future. And that’s what keystone is all about, right? You research what you find interesting, or start community service projects or fundraisers whenever you feel that you need to make the world a better place, and I think that’s fantastic. If you don’t already, you’ll appreciate this fact later on.

While keystone may not make you a life long lover of school—because really, who likes waking up early, and once you get into high school there’s homework and AP exams and SATs and ACTs and all kinds of fun things like that—no, you may not be a life long lover of school, but if this school does what it set out to do, then you will leave a life long lover of learning. And I think that that is the best gift any school in the world can bestow on its students.

And we have Ms. Sherry to thank for that.